Monday, September 15, 2008

My philosophy and teaching style (part 5)

"When you know yourself, you will know others" was a phrase I often heard in movies, and read in books when I was younger, but never fully understood the meaning of it. The same reason I always wondered how my teacher could always catch me daydreaming and zoning out of class back in my schooling days. Now being a teacher myself, I know how they did it, even out of so many students to watch out for, I know if you're "in class" or "spaced out".

I can tell who's drumming their fingers(a sign of a fidgety unsettled mind), who's doing too much, who's hot and bothered with the task at hand, those who doesn't really want to be in class but just killing time before the next activity, those who pick imaginary lint off their clothes because they feel they know better, those who are not paying attention to a single word I say, those(normally gym yoga goers) who prefer to check themselves out in the mirror every 30 seconds,(my home grown students learn about internal self correction, instead of external correction, I mean what's the point if you treat the symptom without getting at the root cause? Same reason you water a plant at it's roots for greener leaves instead of painting green onto it's leaves. Do I make sense to you?), and the list goes on with these "yoga offenses".

But I can also tell who is at peace with their own body, accepting one posture to next with grace, and bringing a beautiful feeling into their practice, those who are concentrating hard, persevering through the discomfort by bringing attention to their breath, and those who are in effortless effort. Only a small handful of students achieve this because many do not understand the true meaning of yoga. The students' physiology changes when they achieve an inner calm, a no-mind state, I see it, or in yoga terms, I feel their aura change. I am quite sensitive to such changes, having knowledge of my own melting experiences. I recommend Osho : Yoga the Science of Soul for further reading. There's just something about the way the body is held in divine grace and aura which changes when one is immersed in one's own energy.

The hardest part of your practice, is to just let go yourself, and all your expectations from your practice. Everyday, we are pounded with social pressures and ideas of how we should be/look or behave, and this grinds our inner self into such fine grain, we hardly can recall the last time we felt wholesome and complete without outer stimuli constantly pounding our senses, telling us we're never good enough. We form attachments to things, people, relationships, money, worst of all, personality. We are not any of these things, because try to take them away, and then who are we? Anything which is not real changes, i.e. prakriti, and nature will always change, that is the law of the universe, but our consciousness(purusha) will forever remain, if we are aware of it.We think we are this and that, desiring this and that, hankering for more, always more. This gives rise to an unsettling behavioural pattern often brought with us to our yoga mat, as a teacher, I see it way too often.

A no-mind state can be applied in almost any situation, let me give you one, I was swimming the other day, and really enjoying the water, I did a few laps of the pool, and in that few laps, I completely surrendered to the movement(I was doing the freestyle, in case anybody was wondering), and just listening to my breathing against the water, just being, I wasn't "doing" a swim anymore, I was in moving meditation, sometimes known as dynamic meditation. I didn't even feel tired, didn't feel my body, it was just prana, energy, lifeforce within me. So it doesn't mean you have to find a mat, find a bodhi tree and meditate, no.

Lay men are afraid when I say no-mind. They are afraid that if the mind disappears, it cannot come back and they'll go mad, but how many times have you seen a mad yogi? You see more mad men, don't you? Let me explain, the mind is momentarily retracted within itself, it is like a sense organ, and we momentarily stop the sense from picking up stimuli, called pratyhara(sense withdrawal). We don't realise, when we sleep, in deep sleep, we are actually already in pratyhara, we close the eyes, you don't smell anymore, you don't hear or feel anymore but everything comes back the moment you wake, same thing applies to withdrawing the mind. So don't tell me you don't know yoga, if you can breathe and sleep. So as I was saying, the mind is sort of pulled back, suspended where unaffected by time-space but it comes back, when you need to use it, whenever you want it, you're the master. Yoga is the cessation of the mind, very aptly described by Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras. The mind is merely a utility, use it, only when needed in your daily life, be the master of your mind, not a slave to your mind.

There is an exercise which can be done to have glimpses of the infinite consciousness, called the Shambhavi mudra, now there are a few interpretations on how to do this, due to discourses given by different gurus who have their own take of the mudra. I shall explain one of the few I know. Sit comfortably as you can, close your eyes, leaving about 1/4 of your eyes open. Focus your vision on the tip of the nose for a couple of seconds, then close the remainder of your lids, you will feel your eyes roll towards the back of the head, thus creating a senses-meet-mind experience. Your mind will "blank" for as long as you let it, the experience of no-mind, thru the Shambhavi mudra.

Have a good week, my yogis.

Lots of light and love, Namaste.

Michelle Q