Friday, 26 June 2015

Deep Relaxation

Deep Relaxation Techniques as taught in the Yoga class, usually start at the superficial level of tense and relax; in order to release muscular tension. Much more difficult is the release of emotional tensions which run much deeper, often originating in early childhood and sometimes from inherited ancestral trauma. Many day to day emotional upsets can be managed by calming the breath, in order to calm the emotions. At much deeper levels there can be an accumulation of emotional experiences that become an ocean of unresolved hurt, which when tapped, open emotional floodgates difficult to control. Ideally the Yogi has a calm disposition, and is able to take control when faced with difficulties. This control comes from understanding oneself and developing a calm inner watchfulness when faced with many of the traumas experienced in life.

The yogic ideal of Self control is not achieved by allowing oneself to become emotionally entangled and caught up in all that the mind and emotions present to us, but rather trusting the conscious or intuitive self, which stands apart, and has a wider perspective and vision of the eternal. The central Self or observer does not have to dive in and become entangled in the difficulties presented to it; as by remaining detached it will remain open to a greater range of response possibilities.

Emotional surges, whatever the trigger, can carry us along like twigs in a fast running stream, often to our detriment. Regaining control is by the use of words and clearly verbalising to ourselves how we feel. The causes and background to emotional turbulence is often fuelled by injustices reaching back to childhood. Just as a cyclone or whirling energy system has a still centre, so does the Yogi, and it is to this centre he endeavours to return. The conscious use of the mind to analyse our experiences is not unlike the use of a fine sieve to sort out the real from the unreal and add to our storehouse of wisdom.

Deep relaxation techniques do not only release surface tensions but can also bring to light many suppressed fears and tensions. The technique familiar to those who practise Yoga Nidra consists in introducing pictograms once body and mind are relaxed. These pictograms appear to run contrary to what is calming and relaxing, such as imagining one’s own funeral, a hangman’s noose, or a prison cell. These random images often trigger associated suppressed fears, which if brought to the surface and into the full light of consciousness, can be replaced with love and forgiveness.

Suppressed fears are not unintelligent as they are reminders of much of the dangers we need to avoid. It is the irrational fear that keeps playing its old tune, where no danger is present, that is best released and made conscious, to be analysed and replaced with intelligence and understanding.

Friday, 19 June 2015

The Art of Meditation

The Art of Meditation

The art of meditation helps to take control of one’s life, gain personal freedom, and find solutions to the problems that confront us. Individual needs vary from coping with stress, to finding a reason for living, as well as for a few, finding the way to reach heights of spiritual insight.

Dealing with the immediate effects of stress, often means simply taking time out, finding a quiet place in which to walk or sit and taking the focus away from the problems in the mind. Worries we carry with us are usually accompanied by a restless body, with need to fidget and walk about, making sitting in one position difficult, and this is where a walking meditation will be of help.

When walking, be aware of the space in which you find yourself. Be at one with the energy field that surrounds you, and feel for any gradients, or subtle changes in feeling that seem to guide you. You have a choice with each step you take, either be absorbed in your thoughts, or enjoy the moment. Simply pause, still your mind and then carry the stress free moment with you, guided by the spirit of freedom.

A little stress is not a bad thing as it keeps us alive and gives tone to our lives. It is when stress is excessive, that it leads to strain and distorts our view of life. Meditation can give a sense of perspective, help us to grow in self-understanding, improve our relationships with each other and ultimately the universe of which we are a part. There are no limits to the number of techniques that allow us to do this.

Relaxing music at bed time helps reduce internal tension, particularly if the notes and chords are felt and harmonised internally. Not all ancestral tendencies are negative, that is the echoes from the past. Choice of music is important and needs to have a soothing, as well as an uplifting quality and some orchestral sounds link us in a positive way to family members, who may still be resonating in the protoplasm, by feeling for the positive moments in their lives, positive moments that are still being shared with you today.

There are meditations to suit everyone from the physiological, to the mystical and traditional. The physiological can use yoga asana to organise and guide the body energy, or the breath can be used to calm the emotions and bring peace to body and mind.

Not everyone has the ability to look beyond the world of form into the world of spirit that supports this world. The mystical or intuitive perception normally arises as a result of Self discipline acquired during traditional forms of meditation. An important first aspect is learning to sit upright in the most economical way possible, so that there is no sense of strain, the head perfectly balanced, the breathing peaceful and mind still. This form of sitting gives rise to a sense of presence, watchful composure, and can even be practised before sleep at night. We have all seen pictures of the sleeping Buddha, lying on his right side. The side of the face rests in the palm of the right hand, the essential being a comfortable mattress and a spine, free of tension.

Concentration (dharana) is the technique of centring the mind and preparing it for true meditation. On whatever we focus the mind it is unlikely to be void of feeling, the time of day, the amount of light, all give rise to changes in feeling perspective, and it is the changes in feeling that can take us along the different highways and byways of our thought processes. To be able to see clearly and keep to one centre without distraction is an essential precursor to meditation.

Meditation (dhyana) is a form of total concentration and occurs when the mind flows in an unbroken current towards an object. For example, when meditating upon a tree, there is a growing awareness that the tree is more than the totality of its individual parts. Every part from seed to leaf is an integral part of the whole and is linked to the Sunlight and the air and every living thing which surrounds it.

Samadhi or contemplation is a unifying level of concentration where there is an awareness of the whole pattern as an unbroken chain from the Infinite to the finite.

Words are more than diaphanous forms that float briefly in space, as they are audible resonances, sometimes voiced and sometimes unvoiced, that pattern and structure the world in which we live. Words can help us explore different levels of consciousness and Sri Aurobindo in a letter to one of his students described consciousness in terms of Quiet, Calm, Peace and stillness.

These simple word forms can be used to good effect either in meditation or relaxation. Take each word in turn and visualise the word clearly in the mind, before letting it go and feeling for the essence of the word, there will be many related feeling and images connected to each word, continue to let go until you feel at one with the reality represented by each word. The technique is a bit like what happens when a lump of sugar is dropped into a cup of tea. The form disappears but the essence or sweetness remains. Continue the exercise through Calm, Peace, into Stillness. There is revelation in stillness and from this level of objectivity, remain on centre and guide yourself back through each level, back to the Here and Now.

The essential art of meditation is bringing control back to oneself and discovering the inspiration and that comes from within. At first the traditional methods of meditation may appear irksome and a bit like work. This is because the mind is interfering with the free flow of spirit from within. When mind and spirit join forces they can learn to work together, so that the lower mind is transcended and a new level of thought emerges, that has the best interests of all living creatures at heart.

Friday, 12 June 2015



Listen to the silent words
On which space hangs
Its eternal forms.
The silent backdrop,
The all comprehending now.
Whose none interference
In the world of men,
Judges none the less.

Listen to the stillness,
The unchallenging silence,
The action less action
That turns self willed motion
Back onto itself.
That makes all judgement,
Self Judgement.

There’s nought else...