Thursday, 24 November 2016

You have to leave the world behind in order to be of some service to it… (Katha Upanishads Week 11)

~ by Adele

 - Mahatma Gandhi

What’s it been like being you the past week? Would you want to be anyone else? Is here okay?

“You’ve really got the best thing going on by being you”, Steve says. There is no one else more suited to you for your own enlightenment. You have absolutely anything you could ever want right now for your own ultimate growth.

Of course…for this growth to take place, and for our wish to work with what we’ve got to come forth, we must be our own number one cheerleader. We could read all of the scriptures, attend countless Satsang, breathe and backbend ourselves into oblivion…but unless we bring the teachings into ourselves and make them our own, they won’t truly sink into our hearts.

We must connect with the teachings in such a way that we can let the universal message come through in our own unique voice. Otherwise, we are just being ‘told’ what to do. (And nobody likes that!). These teachings are naturally flowing in from the universe it’s very self…from a higher place that will connect to the higher self within you. So the higher self in you must start to become the speaker, the supporter and the butt-kicker to the ‘little’ you. The other voice that you choose to follow. This is the wise one that knows that what I’m doing in any given moment isn’t always good for my ultimate evolution. But my goodness, doesn’t the ‘little’ one put up such a fight! The saying is true…old habits really do die hard. Our job then, is to muster all of our power, all of our courage, to be behind this voice of our higher self, to agree with it, to listen to it – even if it takes everything we have. Of course, it gets easier the more we choose to go with this one, but it is undeniably tough work. Which is GOOD.

Not only is this the number one thing that you can do for your own evolution, but it is also the number one thing that you can do for the evolution of the world. We do not need to go out there and ‘sort the world out’. In fact, we can’t. We can only, and only ever take care of our own energy, and simply be an example.

We discussed tonight about our human tendency to hold strong opinions on things, even ‘good’ strong opinions being a hindrance to us. We can protest and fight and call on people to be better as much as we like, but it is not our business to wake other people up. It leaves us feeling powerless and frustrated with the world. We actually have to leave the world behind a little bit in order to be of some service to it. It’s doing its own thing – we of course wish it well, but it’s not our concern. The only concern we need to have is with ourselves. And raising our own energy is a huge service to the world. It is the ONLY way to serve the world. If every single person focused on raising their own energy, everything else would naturally transform.

Personally, I feel I’ve learnt this massively on one level. I’ve realised through years of trying, (and I have really, really tried!) that it is not my job to ‘fix’ anyone. And I don’t want to either anymore. Sometimes, if we’ve been on a bit of a journey ourselves and we’ve done some work, we can feel like we could help others by giving them some tools that have helped us. Of course we can, and this is beautiful, but it isn’t ever our responsibility whether someone chooses to do the work themselves or not. Although it seems genuinely loving, it is actually the total opposite to make someone your ‘project’. You can’t ‘fix’ anyone, you can only love and support them and wish them the best. But we have to let them go through their own process and ultimately, they have to do the work themselves. And thank goodness for that too, because making YOU your own project takes enough of your energy, right?! :)

Tonight, we reach the last couple of paragraphs of the invaluable teachings of the Katha Upanishad. Yama closes his teachings with words of loving wisdom. The first of the three reads:

"When all desires that surge in the heart
Are renounced, the mortal becomes immortal.
When all the knots that strangle the heart
Are loosened, the mortal becomes immortal.
This sums up the teaching of the scriptures."

Yama is sharing the journey that is before us all. We, one day at a time, transcend our desires, and our grip on life to continuously break open the heart. Doing this is very simple but not easy work. We go through the stages we’ve learnt so far, of first accepting whatever is, and then going THROUGH everything that it brings up in us. There is no easy way out of this one, for the ‘going through’ is an essential part of the transcendence. The ‘going through’ part brings up all the nitty gritty pieces within us and those are our assignments – to open to those parts. Those angry, jealous, judging, clinging, panicking, guilty, lonely, whatever else pieces are all the seeds that we get given to work with and they’re there for reasons. They are in fact always opportunities for our own growth if we can keep enough space from them to see that. The closer we are connected to that voice of our higher self by raising our energy, the further we will be from these. The more we drop our desires and our demands on life, the more we can open our hearts to what life has to offer. And your Bhakti is taking you there.

The second paragraph:

"From the heart there radiate a hundred
And one vital tracks. One of them rises
To the crown of the head. This way leads
To immortality, the others to death."

This one explains that whenever we surrender our grasp, and we transcend a situation, our energy rises UP towards this one track to the experience of immortality. The world will always be challenging us, and trying to pull us into its unfair mesh. It won’t stop. We could get mad at it and go nowhere, or we could turn the experiences inside and move UP.(Of course, we help nudge it along with a little yoga and breathing!)

And the last paragraph….like all good stories, ends with love (of course!)

Yama lets us in on the secret. He says:

"The Lord of Love, not larger than the thumb,
Is ever enshrined in the hearts of all.
Draw him clear out of the physical sheath,
As one draws the stalk from the munja grass.
Know thyself to be pure and immortal!
Know thyself to be pure and immortal."

We can pretend we know what ‘munja’ grass is (imagine peeling back a blade of grass to reveal the fresh bright green piece within!), and envision this Lord of Love residing in our own very heart. Always there, ever present. A smiley little Lord, his chubby cheeks flushed red with the colour of love! I’m sure it could also be a Goddess of Love too, whatever you feel it as. Sat right there, on the rightful throne tucked safely deep in your heart, waiting for you to break them free.

This one is present in the heart of everybody… and we can seek him out by continually choosing to keep opening, until the heart bursts open with his love. YOUR love.

 - Hanuman, Rishikesh

So can see him? Can you feel this one?
Go out into your outer world and see if you can find this one within. Even if you have abandoned him in the past, he has never abandoned you. He is right there, waiting for you. His little face will light up when he sees you searching for him, and he will say:

There you are. I’ve been waiting for you your whole life.
Welcome home.”

Om Shanti

Adéle x

Saturday, 19 November 2016

You did not come here just to 'get through it'.... (Katha Upanishads Week 10)
~ by Adele.

Throughout the journey of the Katha Upanishads, we’ve been absorbing the teachings of Yama (the Lord of Death) in order to live a fuller life.

We’ve been open to shifting our focus from what’s happening TO us from life into what is happening FROM us into life, we’ve explored the willingness to die to what we think we know, and we’ve set off on an endeavour to open to the whole of life into oceanic consciousness.

We know that our energy (or our Prana), is our life momentum, and we protect and raise this life force by making more Shreya (beneficial) energy choices.  We know that our ticket to heaven is on this Earth and is earnt by our journey through life rather than an alternative to life. And for this, there is no shortcut! Through this work of managing our energy, we start to become more aware of that which takes our energy from us, and get to see opportunities to choose differently. Although of course, this takes some doing…as we naturally become quite invested in our poor energy choices over time. We may have become convinced that this is what I ‘should’ do, or that this is ‘the only way to live’. But as we become more and more attentive and our Bhakti for more LIFE comes forth, we start to get curious for new possibilities. What if I didn’t react in this old habitual way? What if I didn’t shout at this person? What if I didn’t hold back from speaking my truth today?
These little moments of breakthrough are POWERFUL, and the more we triumph over the force of our conditioning, the doors open for a new possibility in life and the bigger we grow. Allow yourself a second of internal applause at these ‘little’ moments…for they are in truth, BIG.

So we’ve taken on this journey through Yama, and at this point, we’re assumedly on-board with what he’s given to us. Of course, there may be some initial resistance….there is undoubtedly work to be done, every day, every moment. But we feel the pull of the other one within us…the hungry one, the one who wants more…the one who says YES to life.

This week, Yama doesn’t mess about or fluff it up. He gives it to us a little boisterously…and we’re totally ready for it:
He says:
"Get up! Wake up!
Seek the guidance of an Illumined teacher and realise the Self.
Sharp like a razor's edge is the path, The sages say, difficult to traverse."

Truly testing our desire to discover the immortal, he calls us now, in this life time, to wake up. He pushes us to make the decision to stop our luke-warm, half-hearted, conditional relationship with life and tells us to demand more. Of course, this can only be done through us and by us alone. And that Bhakti is there inside of us right now, either screaming a loud ‘yes’ or just whispering a little one. But it’s there deep within, and will be knocking to embody its power sooner or later.
And Yama’s not the only abrupt one. The great Swami Sivananda gives it to us even a little bit tougher still!

He says:
"Eating, drinking, sleeping,
A little laughter! Much weeping!
Is that all?
Do not die here like a worm.
Wake up! Attain immortal bliss!"

A worm. A….worm. Okay, Sivananda, you’ve got me. No thank you, I don’t want to die like a worm. I would quite like some immortal bliss.

Swami Sivananda

Sivananda’s words are powerful. He asks us, is that all? Can we really be satisfied with a mediocre life? Did we really come into this life just to ‘get through it’, to make it through another ‘okay’ day? This is in no reference to our life situation, our jobs, our relationships or our circumstances. He asks instead, can you look back at the end of each day and see what you did that day for your own evolution? Can you ask yourself what you can do better tomorrow? Continually expanding yourself, opening yourself up, in order to become the ultimate instrument for the divine. (But of course…not overnight).

As I am sure is the same for a lot of people, for me the desire and internal feeling that there must be more to this life is what led me to Yoga. And it seems that once we’re on the path, it’s a one way track – there’s not really any going back. Sometimes I feel like I take two step forwards and one step back, and a little dance happens. But when I do fall back, the contrast is now too big for me to ignore. To go back to an old way of being just isn’t possible, truths cannot be forgotten once remembered, and although sometimes it may feel as if we’re being dragged….the only way is forward. I know you share this knowing with me too.
Look back to a year ago and see the person that you were and notice how life has expanded you. Even if it ‘broke’ you, or it felt like it left you in a pile of pieces on the floor…it didn’t. It has cracked you open. And your being here, protecting the flame of your Bhakti between your palms, still willing to participate, means that you have already taken part in your own opening. Keep. Going.

So we notice our ‘no’, embolden our ‘yes',
And this week, we take a shot of Sivananda into our desire to awaken to immortal bliss.

Shakti Om

Adéle x

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

"Know The One and Know All" -  (Katha Upanishads Week 9)
~ by Adele.

Last week we spoke of the beautiful ocean and wave analogy; comparing the physical versions of ourselves as waves, always connected to the vast ocean of life. And even when we start to buy into the belief that we are ‘separate’ from the ocean or the other waves, it doesn’t matter. We are always connected – there is no separating the wave from the ocean. Our process is just one of continuous remembering, and allowing ourselves to relax back into the bigger energies. Ahhh...

We do this by getting daring enough to welcome in the whole of life, even the nitty gritty parts of it. As they are all specifically ours to experience. In fact we cannot get to experience that which is beyond life without going THROUGH life first. There’s no other way! 

So we continue to deepen in our courage to let go, and start to fall more and more in love with the experience of being unified with life. Of course, “you” do not go, and you’ll even still probably keep those strange personality quirks of yours! But you choose more and more to merge into the ocean, to fall back into life. Something has started to give way inside your wave and you know that you’re always connected, even when you may sometimes feel disconnected. Instead, you’re able to watch from a deeper place what’s happening, even if you’ve ‘lost it!” There starts to be an inner calmness, even if we’re not behaving particularly calm at the time.

Of course, this connection changes our experience totally, and especially with other waves. Instead of comparing our wave with the wave next to us, or getting jealous of what that wave over there can do,  maybe we can relax a little. We can say, “Wow, check out what that wave can do!”, and wish that wave the very best life it could EVER possibly have. (Rather than perhaps deep down hoping that wave might slip and fall on their arse!)
How beautiful would it be if we could start to see the other waves as “brother” or “sister”, instead of “danger” or “competition”? Knowing fully that wishing one wave the best genuinely from our hearts, does in no way diminish our own potential. We can start to appreciate all the forms of the waves – how the ocean takes form in a guitar-playing wave over there, a hair-dressing wave over here, and a great-mum wave right next to us. It also changes our perception on the idea of death; when a wave runs its course, where does it go? It merges back into the ocean doesn’t it? It’s not gone. Maybe there is a different way to look at the idea of death, maybe we are just breaking out of our bodies into a new life, and merging back into eternal life. 
“May you relax well back into the ocean my dear”, we could wish our fellow waves. Isn’t thinking of it this way so beautiful, so full of total love? I think so.

When we know, or rather remember, this deep connection as the truth it is, we can also notice when we start to contract from it. Then moment to moment, we can summon up the courage to keep on opening to each experience, each time taking us deeper into our ocean. This is of course, ino ‘easy’ road. But what would the ocean of life say to us if it were to come up and speak to us?

Steve jokes in his deep ‘ocean’ voice,
“It would probably say:


“Huh….okay, so you mean I don’t have to worry about anything…at all, ever?” Steve asks life.

*A long pause*


*another long pause*

“I am taking care of everything”.

Well thank God for that! It’s almost so funny when it’s put this way, because then what about all this time I’ve spent worrying and fixing and planning and doing?! And sometimes we even dream of not having to do all those things, but there’s a part of us that still thinks we know best and that we have to! It doesn’t mean that we get complacent, but rather the opposite. Choosing to be part of the flow of life is a constant commitment. But when we see that life really does have a bigger plan for us, we start to trust more and more. Of course, life will not remove the challenges and lessons that we need to go through, but it will ultimately give us way more than we could ever go out and take from it. 

And this life, this ocean knows all. It know everything it needs to know at any given time. And when we connect to this one, it will also flow through us, giving us everything that we need to know too. Therefore, meditation is not a ‘time out’ or a luxury, or a relaxing technique. It is instead, to tune in to this ocean of knowledge and wisdom which is available to us always. So we can know all we need to know at any moment, and we can stop worrying about controlling it all so much. Phew. Cool.

And so we come to the simple but profound message of Yama’s this week:
“Nachiketa, can there be anything not known to the Ocean, when Everything is part of the Ocean? - Know ‘The One’ Nachiketa, and you will know All!


Adele x

Monday, 7 November 2016

So how does 'Living Yoga' sit with the Traditional Paths?

Living Yoga is a synthesis of the 5 great paths of Yoga into a single, cohesive way of life for the enlightenment of the whole being.
Bhakti Yoga = The cultivation of a DESIRE for freedom
Hatha Yoga = The cultivation of LIFE-ENERGY
Gyana Yoga = The cultivation of the WITNESS
Raja Yoga = The cultivation of CONCENTRATION
Karma Yoga = The cultivation of EGOLESS - ACTIVITY

A human being is not one dimensional. A human being is multi-dimensional. Each of the five Yogas works on one of the five dimensions of the human being:
Bhakti = Emotional dimension
Hatha = Physical dimension
Gyana = Intellectual dimension
Raja = Mental dimension
Karma = Ego dimension

Honoured and practiced collectively as a 'Living Yoga' these five Yogas give rise to a super-functional, emotionally-intelligent, fully-rounded, supremely-alive, self-realised human-being.

The five Yogas support each other, keeping the process of enlightenment in balance and guarding against the excesses that can manifest when one path is followed exclusively:
Bhakti = Emotionalism
Hatha = Misuse of powers
Gyana = Dry detachment
Raja = Isolation
Karma = Messiah complex

Traditionally one was encouraged to take one of the five paths according to ones' natural tendencies:
The Bhakta would travel through the 'heart door',
The Hatha Yogi would travel through the 'body door',
The Gyani would travel through the 'door of the intellect',
The Raja Yogi would travel through the 'mental door',
The Karma Yogi would travel through the 'service door'.

The pilgrims on each path would tend to stick together. The Gyani's would rarely cross paths with the Bhakti's, the Raja Yogi's would seek isolation from the world, whilst the Karma Yogi's dived into it and everyone gave the Hatha Yogi's a wide berth. Each path tended to feel superior to the others and looked out with some disdain.

Sadhguru shares an old story to illustrate this point (using 4 Yogas and Kriya instead of Hatha):
"It happened once. Four men were walking in the forest. The first was a gnana yogi, the second was a bhakti yogi, the third was a karma yogi, and the fourth was a kriya yogi.
Usually, these four people can never be together. The gnana yogi has total disdain for all other types of yoga. His is the yoga of intelligence, and normally, an intellectual has complete disdain for everyone else, particularly these bhakti types, who look upward and chant God’s name all the time. They look like a bunch of idiots to him.
But a bhakti yogi, a devotee, thinks all this gnana, karma and kriya yoga is a waste of time. He pities the others who don’t see that when God is here, all you need to do is hold His hand and walk. All this mind-splitting philosophy, this bone-bending yoga, is not needed; God is here, because God is everywhere.
Then there is the karma yogi, the man of action. He thinks all the other types of yogis, with their fancy philosophies, are just lazy.
But a kriya yogi is the most disdainful of all. He laughs at everyone. Don’t they know that all of existence is energy? If you don’t transform your energy, whether you long for God or you long for anything else, nothing is going to happen. There will be no transformation.
These four people customarily can’t get along. But today they happened to be walking together in the forest and a storm broke out. It grew very intense and began raining heavily. They started running, looking for shelter.
The bhakti yogi, the devotion man, said, “In this direction there is an ancient temple. Let’s go there.” He’s a devotee; he knows the geography of temples very well!
They all ran in that direction. They came to an ancient temple. All the walls had crumbled long ago; just the roof and four columns remained. They rushed into the temple; not out of love for God, but just to escape the rain.
There was a deity in the center. They ran towards it. The rain was lashing down from every direction. There was no other place to go, so they moved closer and closer. Finally, there was no alternative. They just hugged the deity and sat down.
The moment these four people hugged the idol, there was a huge fifth presence. Suddenly, God appeared.
In all their four minds the same question arose: Why now? They wondered, “We expounded so many philosophies, did so many poojas, served so many people, did so much body-breaking sadhana, but you didn’t come. Now when we’re just escaping the rain, you turn up. Why?”
God said, “At last you four idiots got together!”
If these dimensions don’t walk together, human beings will be one big mess. Right now, for most people, these dimensions are aligned in different directions. Your mind is thinking and feeling one way, your physical body is going another way, your energy another way. Yoga is simply the science of aligning these three dimensions."      ~ Sadhguru.

In the last century some great Masters started to recognise the importance of bringing the five Yogas into a more integral system for the rounded development of human beings in the coming age of 'information and technology'. Two most notable exponents of an integral Yoga were Swami Sivananda and Aurobindo.
We are currently living through a time in the west where only a very limited form of Hatha Yoga is being taken as the 'whole of Yoga'. Some form groups according to the way they practice asanas and look with disdain at the other styles! This is all ok for a time of course, but as Living Yogi's I am hoping we can take a broader and more universal message of Yoga into the world that reveals the true depth and wonder of each path and then fuses them together into a singular spiritual bullet that no aspect of the ego can survive.
~ Steve.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Outrageous Openness.... (Katha Upanishads - Week 8)
~ By Adele.
It is okay to feel broken and wounded sometimes. It really is. Your pain, sadness, discomfort, confusion and anger are not signs of your “spiritual weakness”; they are important and precious parts of you that just long to be held. Can we hold these inevitable feelings as unique invitations not to turn our back on our experience? Not to try and ‘think’ ourselves out of feeling something? Our beauty lies in our willingness to keep saying ‘yes’ to letting all experience flood in; not just the good parts, the “spiritual” parts and the happy, positive feelings, but to all feelings, to feel them all fully, at last. To stop trying to “fix” whatever is happening, or telling someone to “look at the bright side”, but to instead accept that invitation to break away a part of our boundaries, in order to leave us bigger. What a huge relief it is to know that whatever we are feeling, it’s not ‘wrong’. There’s nothing wrong with you, in fact you’re so completely perfectly imperfect as you are. I write like this not to you, but in speaking to myself. I hope in reminding myself, it may remind you too.

“If you’re looking to experience the Eternal, stand where you are and open the doors”

If we want more life, if we yearn for our experience of life to expand, we must expand our capacity to feel. The way to feel more aliveness is to dive totally into our ‘right now’ experience, whatever that may be. If you’re feeling grumpy…Are you going to fight with your grumpy experience? Or are you able to work with it? Can we relax into resentment, patiently be with pain and stay with sorrow because we want more LIFE? We have become so accustomed to running from experiences and feelings we don’t like, we don’t even have a structure to deal with them when they do inevitably win!
But each time we do choose to open to whatever experience that we are having, we start to break down our boundaries, to open to a deeper place of stillness. We call this “dynamic stillness”, which is still but also very, very much ALIVE. And each time we dip into this dynamic stillness through expanding our openness to the whole thing, a chunk of our fear slips away with it. We start to become a little cooler with change. On top of this, allowing ourselves to open to it all means our level of compassion for others grows. How can we ever relate to another’s pain when we run away from our own? We can only experience each other to the degree that we are open to the experience of one another. If we think we have “better things to experience”, we miss what’s in front of us, which is always, always the perfect experience to be had.
We’re all just humans breaking out of our cocoons, through perpetual openings to life. And it’s really cool because we’re not supposed to get it ‘right’ all the time. Sometimes you’re supposed to lose it, sometimes you’re supposed to want to kill inanimate objects. But the more and more we open to those experiences, there starts to become somebody ‘at home’ within us that watches these things happen. Something separate that has agreed to co-operate with that experience, with life. And the more we can experience, the more we can expand to the eternal. If we say “no” to the experiences we don’t like, we cut ourselves short. We only get to try half of the cake. It is very difficult to go through life saying, “Oh I want to experience life, but only THESE parts, that suit me, thank you”. (Again, I write to myself, to the Adele that does this!)
Tonight we explore two beautiful analogies. For me personally, analogies have the power to put something into such a way that direct explanation could never do. It is the simplicity of analogies like this which clicks within my heart because it feels like it suddenly becomes so…obvious. Sometimes a huge “ahhhh” of wonder runs through me, but rather than feeling like a new piece of information has just rocked my world, it feels more like a reminding – a coming home to something I already knew. I hope that you also know this feeling.

The first one is simple, straightforward and beautiful, from another Upanishad. It uses a piece of gold to describe your infinite vastness. You can imagine a fixed piece of gold jewellery, perhaps a gold necklace. Then you can imagine that this gold necklace is taken over heat, which causes it to melt. And once it melts, it becomes malleable, right? We can shape it into a ring, or a few rings, or maybe even into a little golden Harry Potter wand (If you want). But whatever form or shape it takes, it is still essentially gold at its core. 
This gold is like you. You are made out of the one energy that grows the flowers and gives birth to galaxies. The same one which runs through all of life and everyone around you, just manifesting itself in different forms. Essentially all from the one same source. It is all life, it is all you. 

The second analogy is one that allows us to experience a taste of our vastness and our connection to all that is. It describes the waves in the ocean, and how each wave is a unique expression of the ocean. The waves aren’t separate from the ocean, they are the ocean. Every wave is connected to the whole of the ocean, it has the ocean underneath it and within it, doesn’t it? Has anyone ever seen a wave “going solo”? An escaped wave, making its way down the high street? Saying, “I’m an independent wave and I don’t need the ocean!”
When we look at the ocean, we already know this. It is obvious to us that the waves are part of the ocean, and the ocean is the waves. We are like these waves, and we are connected to and part of this great ocean called life. Beneath us, within us, never separating from us. And this ocean is the whole of life, all of it is life – the good, the bad and the ugly. 
When we decide to close down, to say “no” to any experience, we draw a little line through our wave and try and declare separateness. Leaving us feeling totally disconnected from our love, our pain, our joy, our sorrow, from that which connects us to every single other wave. This little line is an activity we call the “ego”. It’s just an activity that happens, there’s no judgement about it, and it’s not “us”. But it feels like we cut ourselves off from life. Of course we don’t, and we can’t, but we’re not flowing with life when we do it, we’re fighting with it instead. How weird would it be if we saw a wave declaring war with the ocean? 

This is what this little line does. This desperate attempt to separate from the ocean is what causes wars, what causes suffering, what causes misery. But the more we choose to drop through this line by opening, we become more permeable, and more connected to the infinite ocean of life and to all other waves. The most powerful thing we can do for another person is to see their ‘oceanness’. To see their connectedness to all that is and to also to you, no matter how contracted they are – how built up their line of separation is right now. Instead of waves making opinions about other waves; “Oh this ones too small, this ones too big, this one’s not doing what I want it to do”. The ocean knows that all the waves are part of itself. 

And just as we become into the form of a wave in an ocean, the wave must go back – it eventually recedes back into the infinity of the ocean. So is anything ever really lost? Or does it just simply join back into the whole? Perhaps the fear of death is the biggest brainwashing of them all. Maybe death is just another experience to open to and we will also pop out of that experience too into a bigger life.

I don’t normally make these blogs personal, but today I’ll add my 2piece if it’s accepted. I’ve recently come to recognise that if I just continuously try to ask myself to open in difficult times, it feels almost like there is a shield being removed from my heart. That sounds like it would be a blissful beautiful happy feeling, but it’s different than that. I have tried before to force my feelings and experiences into something that they’re not, I’ve tried to smile away pain and avoid fear. A deeper part of me knew that I was denying myself life and that those feelings were a valid invitation to go into them. I start to feel closed and I can feel that in my heart. This cuts me off from life and from those waves around me. When I feel this now, I try to avoid the urge to run away and I softly ask myself “open”, “open”…”open”. Each time I do this it feels it opens a bit more space in there, a bit more room to hold everything, more understanding to truly feel the people around me. It’s not an excited, happy, everything’s great feeling, but a more down-to-earth sense of deep ‘okayness’, which brings a different, more concrete feeling of happiness. 
Just like our experiences, thoughts, feelings and sensations, the waves rise and fall continuously without our control. Waves of life dancing in the vast ocean of who we are. None of the waves of life can harm me, detract from me or add to me. Whatever wave appears, the ocean holds the deepest acceptance for it. They already hold their home in what they are. And what we are is vast enough to hold it all. 


Tuesday, 1 November 2016

You can only grow out of your own soil…(Katha Upanishads Week 7)

A quick recap of the Katha Upanishads journey so far…

In week 1, we learnt of Nachiketa and how he came to meet Yama, the Lord of Death, and how he came to be granted his 3 wishes, or 3 ‘boons’.

Week 2, Yama taught us that we only have ever 2 choices in any situation; that which is Preya and that which is Shreya.

Week 3, we learnt from Yama that our being is a vehicle that we must learn to navigate through this life – understanding that behind the driver of this vehicle, there exists a higher consciousness which is witness to everything.

Week 4, we understood that our body is like a city with 11 gates, and to fill up our inner cities with energy, we must become aware of what it is that lifts our Prana higher and what it is that drains it.

Week 5, we came to know that the key to enjoying the outside world is to become the IN-joyer; to raise our level of internal energy higher so we can look to the world through these eyes.

Then last week… we found out from Yama that we have not only one body – instead, we have 5 bodies of different densities, which move from our most physical to the more higher dimensions of ourself. And then we asked, can we observe these bodies – the physical, the energetic, the mental, the intuitive, and the blissful….from a place even higher than that? Is there something beyond this that is not polluted by these 5 bodies that we can tap into?

And so we arrive this week at week 7 of the Katha Upanishads, where Yama’s teaching this week is about our endeavour to turn up, WHOLE-heartedly for the WHOLE package of life. Yep, all of it. The whole enchilada.

The one body out of the 5 we have that seems to cause us the most kerfuffle is the Thought body, the Manomaya Kosha, (or simply put) our minds. Especially when we’re on a path, or a ‘spiritual journey’. If we’re not careful, we can end up over-analysing and scrutinising everything, until just hanging out with our folks can be hard work. We can of course use the mind to remind ourselves of our truth, but if it’s used to ruminate over spiritual truths…what is right, wrong, good or bad, we can essentially end up creating another ego, the ‘spiritual ego’. The worst of them all! The spiritual ego causes us to become over-serious, spiritually uptight and then we can’t function in the great fullness of life. Of course the mind is a great functional tool, but it’s not the best piece of equipment to run our lives with. ‘Spiritual life’ is not an occupation, it is that which makes all of life supremely better. And we won’t know this, unless we’re doing life. The whole thing, with our heart wide open.

Although we all try our best to, the truth is, we can’t use our mind to calm our mind. Or even to grasp and understand truth. What we can do is use the mind to point us back to the more inner sheaths, where the inner joy (the bliss body) and the inner knowing come through, with the ultimate intimate knowing that essentially, ‘it’s all okay’. Our fundamental duty, is to keep doing that which keeps our energy high enough so our mind is not running over the top of this and stealing the show.

So Yama’s message this week is a beautiful one, it is about the ongoing journey of accepting the entirety of life. Nachiketa asks Yama, “Why Yama, do things happen in life that I don’t like? Why is there only chocolate ice cream when I want vanilla?”

Yama replies, “Sorry buddy, but you’re going to have stop doing that. You’re going to have to move beyond this ‘great split’ of having a chronic preference for things in your life. If you truly wish, Nachiketa, to experience that which is eternal, you’re going to have to start doing your best to accept everything that comes to you as if you had chosen it. Especially if you don’t like it. But don’t worry, doing this will leave you BIGGER. And your experience of that will bring you closer to your connection to the eternal.”

What Yama is asking us to do is to try to embrace every part of life, including the pains, the sorrows, and everything which we do not like. He tells us that we can either be with these things, or base a whole life around the avoidance of these experiences. Of course, this is another teaching of Yama’s that doesn’t happen overnight. He asks us to be patient, and to just do what we can do right now to accept life in all of its forms. He reminds us that our ticket to heaven is here, on this Earth, and to get it, we need to face it all, open to it all. To do this, we do not need to go anywhere – in fact, our life is already totally kitted out already for our own enlightenment.Steve gives us a beautiful phrase to recognise this. He says; “You can only grow out of your own native soil”.

We can transfer this 10 stone bag of soil to New Zealand, but we’re still in the same bag of soil. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with New Zealand, it’s lovely and there are hobbits, but essentially, our bag of soil is coming with us whatever, and this is the only place that we can grow from. Everything that happens in this life, we can use as fertilizer for this growth if we choose to pay attention and to continuously keep choosing to open.

Yama explains, “If you wish to experience that which is eternal, you must first open to everything on this Earth level which is not. Then over time, you will gradually, patiently transcend everything which does indeed die.”.

So we do our very best, each day, each moment, to accept, embrace and eventually transcend through these experiences. What a challenging process….but it sure sounds like “expansion” in its biggest form, doesn’t it? We can choose to base a life around the avoidance of and live half a life, or we can choose to try and accept and experience the whole juiciness of life that it wants us to experience in order for our own growth.

Steve leaves us this week with a beautiful verse from Yama to bring the teaching home;

“In the secret cave of the heart, two are 
Seated by life’s fountain. The separate ego 
Drinks of the sweet and bitter stuff, 
Liking the sweet, disliking the bitter, 
While the supreme Self drinks sweet and bitter 
Neither liking this nor disliking that. 
The ego gropes in darkness, while the Self 
Lives in light. So declare the illumined sages, 
And the householders who worship
The sacred fire in the name of the Lord.”

So can we take it all in? Can we experience all of the flavours of life willingly? We can most certainly do our very best.

“So keep rocking, keep rolling, keep breathing, keep yoga stretching. Keep saying YES”, Steve smiles.

With love,

Adéle x