Monday, April 10, 2017

The Middle Path

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are considering how the practices of Yoga help us maintain the middle path.

He that can have patience, can have what he will.                  

 -Benjamin Franklin

Here is a tip for keeping the palate on the middle path. When it is craving candy or a hot fudge sundae, go for a walk repeating the mantram you have chosen, and bargain for time. Tell your mind, "In two hours, on our way home we can go to an ice cream parlor for a deluxe sundae." Interestingly enough, two hours later the mind has forgotten ice cream sundaes and is thinking about the movie it will enjoy tomorrow evening. All you need do is put just a little break of time between the palate and its desire, for you can count on the mind to change its desires.

Treat the mind gently, patiently, and compassionately. Since it has been allowed free license for so many years, it is not fair to expect it to come round in a day or two.

Words to Live By: Inspiration for Every Day – Eknath Easwaran

The homework is to discover for yourself how to “keep the palate on the middle path”. Consider what it means to “put just a little break of time between the palate and its desire”. Work to generalize this concept to other areas of life like your behavior or any time you go on automatic. Remember that the “goal” of Yoga is to still the fluctuations of the mind and that the practices of Yoga should move you in this direction.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994
www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com


Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Fifth Yama Aparigraha - Non-Covetousness or Greedlessness

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are considering the fifth Yama Aparigraha - non-covetousness or greedlessness.

My life is an indivisible whole, and all my attitudes run into one another; and they all have their rise in my insatiable love for mankind.
                    -Mahatma Gandhi

We should be able to make all sorts of graceful concessions on things that do not matter in life and yet stand unshakable on essentials.

To do this, we have to be detached from our opinions. I'm not recommending that we be wishy-washy, or lack strength in our convictions, but that we cultivate the forbearance not to force our opinions on others. When we have strength of conviction we will not get rattled when people question or contradict us. Mahatma Gandhi, for example, was not in favor of tea or coffee, but he would make a cup of tea for his wife each morning just the way she liked it. This is bending gracefully on nonessentials.

When it came to essentials, however, Gandhi was unshakable. His dedication to nonviolence was so absolute that he would abruptly call off a successful nationwide program of noncooperation with the British if he heard any reports of violence committed by his countrymen, even those who did not acknowledge him as their leader.

Words to Live By: Inspiration for Every Day – Eknath Easwaran

The homework is to consider the fifth Yama, Aparigraha - non-covetousness or greedlessness.  Write down some of your opinions that you identify with.  Apply the practice of Aparigraha and pick one or two opinions and work to detach yourself from these opinions. Also consider what it means to be “unshakeable on essentials” and how your Yoga practices can help you understand what your “essentials” are and how these practices support your in remaining “unshakable”.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994
www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com


Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, March 27, 2017

Myself and the Rest of the World

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are considering the original duality of “myself” and “the rest of the world”.

To have courage for whatever comes in life - everything lies in that.
                                    -Saint Teresa of Avila

For the majority of us, uncertainty is worse than disaster, because disaster comes to us only rarely; worry depletes us often. We never know whether we are going to get a brick or a bouquet. If we knew for certain a brick was on its way, there would be no anxiety. We would just say, "Throw it and be done with it."

We can learn how to handle both bricks and bouquets, praise and censure, success and defeat. When we can say, "Whatever comes, we will not be afraid because the divine Self is within us," then this resoluteness and faith will enable us to work free from tension, agitation, and fear of defeat. The person who works in this way is at peace, because he or she is not anxious about results.

Words to Live By: Inspiration for Every Day – Eknath Easwaran

The homework is to consider our habit of dividing the world into comparative pieces and our original division of life into the duality of “myself” and “the rest of the world.” Relate this pattern of self-prescribed dualities to Easwaran’s commentary especially in terms of certainty vs uncertainty. Would you be at peace if you were able to experientially transcend this duality? How do the practices of Yoga help move you in this general direction?

Reference: The Secret of the Yamas, A Spiritual Guide to Yoga - John McAfee. 

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994
www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com


Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, March 20, 2017

Simplicity, the Important Things in Life and Consistent Practice

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are considering simplicity, the important things in life and consistent practice.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours.
-William Wordsworth

Our modern way of life seems to be making us busier and busier about less and less. It is only after we begin to taste the joy of simple living that we realize how much all this frantic activity can stand between us and our fulfillment. The more we divide our interests, our allegiances, our activities, the less time we have for living.

Loving, loyal personal relationships take time. We cannot get to know someone intimately in a day or establish a lasting relationship during a weekend conference. If we spend eight hours a day at our job and the evening watching television, where is the time for cultivating close friendships? If we simplify our lives, we shall find the time and energy to be together with our family and friends, or to give our time to a worthy cause that needs our contribution. The simple life doesn't mean bearing with a drab routine; it means giving our time and attention to what is most important.

Words to Live By: Inspiration for Every Day – Eknath Easwaran

The homework is to consider how the many practices of Yoga can support you in uncovering what is “really important in life”.  See if having a consistent practice has the effect of helping cultivate simplicity and if in this simplicity the things that are really important come to the surface?  The only way to answer this question is from your own experience, to practice. 

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994
www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com


Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Letting Go

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are considering letting go.

The restriction of these fluctuations is achieved through practice and dispassion.
            -Yoga Sutra 1:12

One of the most frequently studied principles of yoga’s sacred texts is the concept of letting go - also called detachment or surrender.

Why is detachment so difficult to understand?  Perhaps the problem lies in confusing being detached with being uninterested.  Actually, they are opposites.  If you are uninterested, you withdraw, you turn your back on life, which, in a way, denies the difficulty of life.  To be detached is to stand in the middle of the marketplace, with all its confusion and noise, and to remain present to yourself and to all that is.

Detachment beckons you to cultivate the willingness to surrender as you go along, right here and now, but not because you despair or are uninterested.  On the contrary, detachment requires total engagement.  When you allow yourself to see things as they really are, then -  and only then – can you love yourself and others without hidden expectations.  Detachment is the greatest act of love.

The next time you feel yourself caught in the grip of attachment, such as wanting something to turn out a certain way, take time out – right then and there –to notice what is happening in your body.  How does your belly feel?  Has your breathing changed?  Is your jaw tight?  Your forehead drawn?  Notice your bodily sensations.  These are the manifestations of your attachment.

Practice Suggestions.
If you notice that you have a strong desire to be right, try not venturing an opinion the next time someone else expresses one.

If you are in a situation in which you notice your attachment to the outcome of a problem, offer your help and then step back; this will free others to do the same.

When the occasion arises, go along with what your partner or friend wants.  Let her pick the restaurant or movie.  Or, if you always rely on her lead, you pick.

Mantras for Daily Living.
-Detachment is the greatest act of love.
-I am willing to engage life.
-This moment is the perfect moment to let go.

Excerpts from “Living your Yoga, Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life”, by Judith Lasater.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994
www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com


Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, March 6, 2017

How our Yoga Practices Prepare us to be Mindful in the Work we do in the World


Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are considering how our Yoga practices prepare us to be mindful in the work we do in the world.

What we take in by contemplation, that we pour out in love.

-Meister Eckhart

The old dispute about the relative virtues of the active way to spiritual awareness versus the contemplative way is a spurious one. We require both. They are phases of a single rhythm like the pulsing of the heart, the in-drawing and letting go of breath, the ebb and flow of the tides. So we go deep, turn inwards in meditation to consolidate our vital energy, and then with greater love and wisdom we come out into the family, the community, the world. Without action, we lack opportunities for changing our old ways and we increase our self-will rather than lessen it; without contemplation, we lack the strength to change and are blown about by our conditioning.

Words to Live By: Inspiration for Every Day – Eknath Easwaran

The homework is to observe for yourself how attention (Dharana) and breath (Prana) prepares you for the movement (Karma, action) of your body in asana. Apply this same concept to your contemplation practices and the work you do in the world. One of the best ways to learn about this connection is to stop praying (or whatever your contemplation practice is) in the morning for a few days and see how your energy is throughout the day. Start up again and notice if your energy is more balanced.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994
www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com


Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, February 27, 2017

First Steps on the Path

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are considering the first steps on the path of Yoga.

Beginnings are important, as they set the tone for what will follow.  Thus beginners on the yogic path would do well to understand correctly what Yoga is about and then to approach it accordingly.  There is a humorous saying in Yoga circles that Yoga has been reduced to the practice of postures, and that postures has been reduced to stretching, and that stretching has been reduced to lengthening the hamstrings.  Authentic Yoga is always a spiritual discipline.

Every single technique or practice of the highly diversified approach of Yoga has the same purpose: to set us free, to take us beyond the conditioning of our ego-personality, into the spacious realm of the Spirit, or higher self (called Atman or Purusha).

As we set foot on the yogic path, we must right away acknowledge that we have work to do on ourselves.  This sense should stay with us until we are actually Self-realized, or liberated.

The best protection against going astray on the spiritual path is humility and integrity.  That is why the yogic path begins not with the postures or meditation, as so widely believed, but with moral disciplines: nonharming; truthfulness; nonstealing; continence and moderation; and greedlessness.

I know that no ecstatic state (Samadhi), however lofty, amounts to very much without firm grounding in the moral disciplines.  For the ultimate goal of liberation depends on our psychological and moral integrity.  The entire yogic process can be viewed as one of progressive self-realization.  There are no shortcuts to self-realization.  Our inner purity (or integrity) is the only doorway to freedom.

Yoga Gems: A Treasury of Practical and Spiritual Wisdom from Ancient and Modern Masters – Edited by Georg Feuerstein

The homework is to evaluate your reasons for practicing yoga.  Study and understand the “moral disciplines” and work to implement (or re-implement) this first step in the yogic process – practicing the Yamas. Then learn about the other seven limbs of Yoga and see how they can be applied to your life (see below).

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994
www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Eight Limbs of Yoga

Described in the second chapter of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Eight Limbs of Yoga are set fourth as the means, or the path towards the “quest of the soul.”  The eight limbs are as follows:

Yama – commitment to universal moral commandments 
Niyama – self-purification through discipline 
Asana – posture
Pranayama – rhythmic control of the breath
Pratyahara – withdrawal and emancipation of the mind from the domination of the senses and exterior objects 
Dharana – concentration 
Dhyana – meditation
Samadhi – a state of super-consciousness

Yama and Niyama control the yogini’s passions and emotions and keep her in harmony with others.  Asanas keep the body healthy and strong and in harmony with nature.  Finally, the yogini becomes free of body consciousness.  She
conquers the body and renders it a fit vehicle for the soul.  These three limbs represent bahiranga sadhana, the outward quests.  These limbs are also considered the physical pursuits.

The next two stages, Pranayama and Pratyahara, teach the aspirant to regulate the breathing, and thereby control the mind.  This helps to free the senses from the thralldom of the objects of desire.  These two limbs represent the antaranga sadhana, the inner quests.  These limbs are also considered the mental pursuits.

Dharana , Dhyana, and Samadhi take the yogini into the innermost recesses of her soul.  The yogini does not look
heavenward to find God.  She knows that God is within, being known as the Antaratma, the Inner Self.  The last three stages keep the yogini in harmony with herself and her maker.  These three limbs are called antaratma sadhana, the quest of the soul.  These limbs are also considered the spiritual pursuits.

The five Yamas are as follows:

-Ahimsa, non-violence
-Satya, honesty and truthfulness
-Asteya, non-stealing
-Brahmacharya, continence (responsibility), moderation and dedication to the understanding of Divinity
-Aparigraha, non-covetousness

The five Niyamas are as follows:

-Saucha, purity internally and externally
-Santosa, contentment, reducing desires, becoming cheerful and creating balance of mind
-Tapas, discipline in the mind and body and directing the mind towards the self within
-Svadhyaya,  study the source of our actions, learn and search for truth and self-realization
-Isvara Pranidhana, dedication to humanity and surrendering to God and the powers that be and abiding to the greater will


References:  Light on Yoga, Light on the Yoga Sutras, and The Tree of Yoga all by BKS Iyengar (paraphrased)