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)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Facing Difficult Situations

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are considering how to best face difficult situations.

You must learn an inner solitude, wherever or with whomsoever you may be. You must learn to penetrate things and find God there, to get a strong impression of God firmly fixed in your mind.

-Meister Eckhart

To give full attention to whatever we are doing isn't easy when we have a job we dislike, or must work with people who are difficult. Then our attention wanders like a child's - looking at this glass for a moment, then at this table, then out the window. If we could only attend a little more to the work, even when we dislike it, it would become quite interesting. When we can give it our full attention, anything becomes interesting. And anything, when we do not give it our full attention, becomes uninteresting.

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

The homework is to notice when you become distracted (Vrittis) when something is difficult (Duhkha). Take the time in that moment to sit with your difficulty and give it your full attention (Dharana). See if giving this difficult situation your full attention makes it interesting or at least helps you understand it more clearly and directs you to meaningful action (Karma).

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 13, 2017

Obstacles and What Really Matters

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are considering the obstacles that are on our path that inhibit our ability to move towards "what really matters."

We need people who can dream of things that never were, and ask why not. *

-George Bernard Shaw

In an Indian movie I saw recently, a villager leaves home for the first time to travel to the city of Bombay. When he returns, his family and friends crowd around him, asking what it was like in the big city. His laconic reply sums up our era: "Such tall buildings . . . and such small people."

If we were asked to give an accounting of our society's achievements, we could claim many great technological developments and scientific discoveries, plenty of skyscrapers, and the amassment of huge sums of money, but few truly secure, truly wise, truly great men and women. It is not for lack of ability or energy, though; it is because we lack a noble goal.

To grow to our full height, we need to be challenged with tasks that draw out our deeper resources, the talents and capacities we did not know we had. We need to be faced with obstacles that cannot be surmounted unless we summon up our daring and creativity. This kind of challenge is familiar to any great athlete or scientist or artist. No worthwhile accomplishment comes easily.

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

The homework is to consider what obstacles are on your path that inhibit your ability to move towards "what really matters."  Use the two wings of Yoga: Abhyasa or effort, willpower, and practice; and Vairagya or letting go, acceptance, and detachment as your guide.  Work to find balance between your effort and letting go of getting anything out of your effort.  Take whatever little steps or attempts you can make.

*edited to make gender neutral

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 6, 2017

Pursuing Peace

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are considering which Yoga practices can help us pursue peace.

Pursuing Peace
by Eknath Easwaran

Mahatma Gandhi has said that to be well adjusted in a wrong situation is very bad; in a wrong situation we should keep on acting to set it right. But in order to reconcile individuals, communities, or countries, we have to have peace in our minds. If we pursue peace with anger and animosity, nothing can be stirred up but conflict.

Meditation and the allied disciplines enable you to take your convictions deeper and deeper into consciousness, so that they become a constant source of strength and security – even when you are severely challenged or threatened. When you practice meditation, you are working hard for the welfare of the world, for the regeneration of society, for the establishment of peace on earth and good will among all, which, as we know to our cost, cannot be done by governments or by corporations but only by millions of little people in little groups, working in all countries, through their personal example.

When I read newspaper accounts of individuals, factions, and governments unleashing provocative words and actions against each other at the same time they are trying to settle their differences, I am reminded of the wise statement attributed to Mahatma Gandhi that an eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.

These tragic confrontations are caused by utter forgetfulness of the deep unity that underlies all petty differences of religion, ethnicity, language, or national identity – a forgetfulness that leads to never ending violence, war, and destruction.  Speaking as a spiritual teacher, let me humbly submit that a true and lasting peace can only come about through the awakening of a deep sense of shared humanity.

How meditation helps
In the mystical tradition it is said that the human appeal and the divine response go together. If we deepen our desire for God’s help by memorizing and using in meditation sublime testimonies of the highest qualities a human being can attain, we can bring into our daily lives the deep faith and unshakable security of the great mystics of all religions. By training our attention on magnificent testimonies such as the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi (“Where there is hatred, let me sow love”), or the Twin Verses of the Compassionate Buddha (“Hatred can never put an end to hatred, love alone can”), or the twelfth chapter of Gandhi’s beloved Bhagavad Gita (“That one I love who is incapable of ill will and returns love for hatred”), we can become what we meditate on.  Through this method of meditation we will begin to understand that a human being can become an immense spiritual force barely contained in a physical form.

It all depends on us
If each of us, through the example of our own lives, can inspire two more people every year to meditate and to live at peace with those around them, it will have an incalculably great effect in creating a climate of peace.

That is my ambition, and that is why I say I am a terribly ambitious man.  You and I make peace. You and I make war. It all depends on us.

Source - Special Message from the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, 6 February 2017

The homework is to discover for yourself what practices you can turn to that support you in pursuing peace. Yoga prepares us for contemplation be it prayer, meditation or other. See what works for you.

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