About a week ago, I read the next chapter from the book I’ve been re-exploring now since March, “A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya.” The topic's title was "The Root Cause of Tension" and the chapter offered readers an opportunity to relieve the body and mind of tension.
I can't think of a better time for this chapter to reenter my life and perhaps to enter yours for the first time. As protests against injustice and racism occur all over the world in response to the death of George Floyd (and so many others); physical and emotional pain emanates from the hearts and faces of the people I view on the news or my Instagram feed. This most recent rise of global confusion, frustration, and understandable anger also seems exacerbated by the sometimes not so positive impacts of our global pandemic... fear, impatience, anxiety. Not to mention the other fears that pile up on top of all that as a result of global warming, climate change, and dirty politicians. It doesn't seem like such a surprise then that our world appears so tense, right? That there is so much in our world that can result in tension in our bodies and minds?
What if I told you though that by taking the next 20 minutes now to read the exact pages that I read from the Kriya book regarding the 10 Codes for Mental Reprogramming, then your outlook on life will improve immediately? It's true. I promise. However, the choice is yours: you can either take steps to make this world and your life a veritable heaven on earth, or you can remain as you are.
In this blog I’ve included the following gifts:
And, as always, please consider reading this blog from the web instead of the emailed version. The photo and video elements I've included below don't always display well in the emailed version. Love to you all. ~ Ashley
The Root Cause of Tension
The codes that Swami Satyananda Saraswati formulated are not intended to be moralistic. They are a means to an end. To reiterate, they are suggestions by which you can start to consciously alter your attitude towards life's situations. They are intended to relax you sufficiently, so that you can eventually delve into your mind through meditation practices and thereby root out the deeper negative aspects of your mental nature.
These codes are not supposed to change your lifestyle, and we don't advise you to force them on yourself at all times. only remember them as you go about your daily routine and their presence will help you from within, from your subconsious 'attitude centres'. (61)
Codes for Mental Reprogramming
Make the effort to begin to accept other people fully. Try not to see them merely as objects to be used for your own gratification. Try to accept others as also acting in accordance with their mental conditioning. What you see in them is only an external manifestation of their mental program. In this way they are no different from you, except their program may be a little different. You are now aware of your dependence on your mental conditioning; perhaps they don’t realize it yet. If you can accept others more they in turn will start to accept you. Laugh at yourself, at your behavior and at your antics.
Accept yourself. Know that your actions are the result of your mental makeup. For this reason, don’t worry about your deficiencies and problems. Accept your limitations. But at the same time feel the need to clean the mind of its conflicts. It is our inability to accept ourselves that causes so much anguish in life.
Watch your habituated reactions to people around you and to your environment. Watch how your attachment to the external can result in so much discontentment. Try to reduce your need to find happiness in outside things. This does not mean that you should not follow external attractions for this would result in suppression, which causes more harm than good. It means that you should carry on your life as it is now, but if you don’t get what you want then accept it with a shrug of the shoulders, with a sense of detachment.
Find out your greatest needs, attachments, desires, etc. Be as critical as you can. A good method of discovering your attachments is to trace the cause of your present anger or your present unhappiness back to its source and there you will find the emotional and mental attitude that caused the disturbance. Particularly notice how you react with people whom you distinctively dislike or don’t get on with. These persons will help you to recognize and to eventually remove your emotional hang-ups. View the whole word and everyone in it as being your teacher.
Try to live in the now. Don’t live in the past by worrying about what has already happened or by reliving pleasurable past experiences. Don’t anticipate the future. Plans can be made, but see the planning as being part of the now, not as really being for the future. Try to live each moment, each present moment as fully as possible by giving your attention to the now. In this way you will start to live life to the fullest. When you do anything, from taking a bath to eating food, or sweeping the floor to earning your living, try not to think of when it will be finished. Enjoy every action that you do at the time that you do it. Try to enjoy the fact that you exist and that an expression of your existence is in your every action.
Don’t identify yourself completely with your actions, your body or your mind. Though you are trying to change your mind, it is only part of you. It is not your consciousness – the witness that sees all events that occur in your life.
Try to be more opens towards other people. Express your true feelings as much as possible. When we try to be what we are not, when we try to impress people and when we hide our inner feelings from others, we immediately experience mental tension and alienation. This tends to intensify our feelings of ‘me against the world’.
Remember that everyone has the potential to attain higher levels of awareness. A mans present attitude toward his environment or toward you is caused by mental programming. His present mode of living is temporary and will change and become more harmonious if and when he starts to understand himself and his mind. All of us have unrealized potential just waiting to be tapped. Try to see this potential in all people, no matter how different it may be.
Don’t avoid difficult situations. Normally we shape our lives so that we interact with people we dislike as little as possible. We continually try to associate ourselves with people and situations that tune in with our motional programming. As such we continue to live in a way that reinforces and satisfies our individual prejudices. Treat difficult situations and enemies as the greatest teachers. It is they who can show us most clearly the way in which our mental program works. It is our enemies who bring to the surface our emotional conflicts and prejudices. Very few of us are aware of programming and conditioning. When we recognize it then we can start to deal with it.
Try to put yourself in other people’s shoes. Instead of blindly reacting in ways that you are programmed, try to see the other person’s point of view. Remember your reaction is purely automatic. Try to change your response so that the current situation doesn’t cause you emotional upsets.
Lesson 2.6: Pages from the Book
The Root Cause of Tension
Let's review the breathing/pranayama portion of our Kriya Yoga program before we move on to the second lesson! :) I'm amazed at the progress I've made so far with this book. I literally feel like I am participating in my own yoga training. How do you feel about it? Feel free to comment and let me know :)
Below, you will find either a link (for email subscribers) or an audio tool (for web viewers). The audio includes our first pranayama practice! In the first half (1:00-18:00) of the recording, I take a moment to read the portion of the chapter that discusses the following important pieces of information:
- A review on breathing capacities
- Why slow breathing?
- The mechanics of breathing
- Different methods of breathing
- Preparations necessary for Yogic Breathing
Then lastly, I lead an exploration into what it means to really breathe. We break down what it means to experience abdominal breathing, middle breathing, upper breathing and finally, yogic breathing. Please feel free to skip the first half if you like, but once you get to the descriptions of the different methods of breathing, I suggest a careful listen. Sometimes these lectures have so much wonderful information and context, so if you do happen to skip the first part but are left wondering if you missed something, then perhaps give it a full listen.
The deep systematic yogic breathing will tend to retrain breathing nerve reflexes that may have ceased to be active by lack of use. In other words, at present you might be breathing only from the chest, hardly using the abdomen at all. Yogic breathing will start to make you breathe abdominally, intercostally and clavicularly during the day, and therefore, allow you to inhale the full amount of air that your body requires for nourishment and good health.
To develop the yogic breathing as an automatic and normal function of the body, try to develop the habit of consciously breathing yogically for a few seconds or minutes. If you feel tired or angry, sit down, or if possible lie down, and practice yogic breathing. If you can breathe slowly then your mind will become calm and revitalized.
Please, let me know if you practiced the recommended five Yogic breaths to start and how it made you feel. And don't forget, tomorrow, add two more breaths and so on. ~ Ashley
What Are We Going to Do Next?
Saraswati, Satyananda. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Yoga Publications Trust, 2013.
I believe that it's time for us to delve a little deeper now into the actual yoga asanas (poses) found within these sacred pages. Especially since the first program concerns pre-meditation exercises and our other book is all about mindfulness meditation (& birthing). Lucky us :) So, here is how our first asana program begins:
"Most people today are physically very stiff. You can test this for yourself: from a standing position, keep your legs straight and bending forwards try to touch your toes with your hands. If you can't (please do not force or strain), then this shows that your body is stiff. Because of this stiffness most people cannot sit in one position for a very long time, as is necessary in higher yogic practices, without feeling the urge to move their limbs in response to discomfort. The following simple exercises are designed to generally loosen up your body and prepare you for eventual mastery of meditation asanas. There are many possible loosening up exercises, far too many for daily practice. The following exercises are selected ones which we feel give optimum results, especially when performed systematically in the order that we have described them" (19).
- Me, reading portions of the chapter that I feel are the most noteworthy
- The Pre-Meditation Exercises
- 3 program options and time allotments to guide you
- Photos of the poses (asanas)
- My voice, walking you through the entire program
2. Use a folded blanket or rug placed on the floor.
3. Wear comfortable clothing which doesn't obstruct free movement. Use common sense in this respect.
4. Please do not use unnecessary strain or force in any of the exercises. Though you may find that your muscles are a little stiff to begin with, they will begin to stretch even after a dew days of regular practice. (I'll write about this in more detail in a later post)
5. If you haven't already, consider reviewingJala Neti and Your Reasons for Wanting to Practice Yoga
Perhaps Next Time...
[It's] an invitation to use the life-changing process you are living right now as an opportunity for self-discovery, inner growth, and transformation. After all, you are living through the most transformative period in the adult life cycle, and your life – and the life of your partner – will never again be the same. So why not learn as much as you can from the process. (5)
So how do we go about using this book? I think that, for the most part, I’ll share information about how the mind directly affects the physiology of labor and how the capacity to be in the present moment can be a critical skill for giving birth. We’ll learn ways to work with pain during labor, for most women in the process of giving birth, whether they intend to use pain medication or not, will experience some powerfully intense physical sensations we usually call pain. We’ll also explore helpful positions for laboring and birthing, partner skills for supporting the pregnant woman through the birth process, breastfeeding basics, and how to manage the physical and emotional needs of the postpartum family. Partners may be coming to understand that they themselves need these mindfulness skills, for they too will be having a birth experience and becoming a parent
[And so what if you’re not a woman or not having a baby.] It’s just that now, the present moment is where your life actually takes place; it’s the only time you have to learn, to grow, and to be fully alive. If you are constantly rehearsing for the future or rehashing the past, you’re missing this moment of your life, which is the only moment you ever really have. (11)
The Foundational Attitudes of a Mindfulness Practice
The best advice I had ever received when I began teaching yoga was two-fold. First, teach as a practice in itself, and at the same time, never sacrifice my own practice to teach. What I teach must be a part of my experience, part of my daily practice. It then emanates from and through me. Energetically, I find you can't really fake this one. Maybe for a while, but it doesn't last for long. Two, being transparent to the method/practice I am teaching. Meaning, keep it pure, taking my own judgment/spin-off of it. Taking myself out of the equation. Being more concerned with teaching the method correctly than having the desire to be liked and/or approved of. See, being transparent doesn't necessarily mean being devoid and without passion for what is being transmuted. If anything, it seems to invoke even more passion and wisdom when it comes to teaching. Emptying myself, being open to allowing the wisdom to work through me, is the residual effect from practice and has a way of naturally unfolding. Call it grace, call it what you will. The more I empty, the more the energy and wisdom come through. I lose individuality. I expand into something bigger than myself.
Of course, there are days when it is harder to connect than others, but then again, it goes back to looking to teaching as a practice. As time goes, the intuitive nature grows. There is an expansion, there is a deepening. The practice of teaching breathes unto itself.
What I have come to understand is I can always take a break from teaching, no problem, and resume it again as long as I continue my own practice. In many ways, it is the same. You can't learn this stuff in books. You have to walk through the fire daily on your own volition. The experience is the teacher. Books, yoga trainings, and the myriad of workshops are the mere 1%. Theory can be talked about until kingdom come, but experience, well, it can only be felt into the reality of who we are. The formless, unspeakable, unexplainable part of who we are. The gateway, conscious breath. The path, breath synchronized movement, vinyasa. We experience yoga. The journey and the destination, in union.
I don't understand the need for a stage. Getting the hands dirty is where it's at. Into the nitty-gritty of what my students are about and what they are coming to know about themselves. It's about them, not me, and at the end of the day, I couldn't be more fulfilled coming from this place of ultimate service. I am learning just as they are. In a way, I come from a place of being a teacher's student when I teach, because I always find myself being a student. A mirror image. A transparency develops between the two relationships. This is where the juice is - In the interdependent relationship that develops within ourselves and how we approach the practice. Between us, our teachers, and the community we find ourselves connected to. I find it fascinating. The roles we play seemingly melting into each other. A synergy that speaks louder than words because what we experience is energetic in nature. The unseen reality. Isn't that what we are tapping into anyway?
After some thought, one of the drivers had a good idea. He went to the camel, took the rope and carefully went through all the motions of tethering the animal to a pin -- an imaginary pin. Afterwards the camel was bedded down, convinced that it was securely bound, and a good night's rest was had by all.
The following morning the camels were released. Everyone made ready to continue the journey, except one camel. It refused to get up. The drivers cajoled and coaxed, but the beast would not move. Eventually one of the drivers realized the reason for the camel's obstinacy. He stood before the imaginary hitching-pin and went through all the usual motions of untying the rope and releasing the animal. Immediately afterwards, the camel stood up without the slightest hesitation, believing that it was now free.
Of course the camel had been free all the time, but it had allowed itself to be convinced that it was bound. It is the same with each human being -- he too is always potentially free, but most people allow themselves to be bound by their mental problems and seemingly oppressive responsibilities. You are really as free as the unpegged camel, yet through conditioning and misconceptions, you think that you are firmly bound. You compare yourself with others, in the same way as the camel did, and automatically believe that you are limited. But you are really free -- understand this clearly. All you have to do is to unhitch, release yourself from your mental problems, the imaginary pin of your bondage. All you have to do is change your attitude.
~~ Borrowed with love from: A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya, by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being. ~ Ashley
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