Monday, December 15, 2014

Making a Commitment to Practicing

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are exploring making a commitment to practicing.

They live in wisdom who see themselves in all and all in them, who have renounced every selfish desire and sense craving tormenting the heart. 

                                                  – Bhagavad Gita

The Gita's hypothesis is that it is possible, by mastering the thinking process, to leave behind unwanted habits and negative thoughts. To accomplish this, the Gita outlines a daily course of training in which we acquire conscious control of our attention, strengthening our will at such a deep level of the unconscious that no compulsive desire or addiction can sweep us away. What is the predicted result? When your will is linked to your intellect at the very depths of your personality, you discover yourself as you really are - secure, wise, compassionate, and intimately connected with all of life.

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

The homework is to create your own "daily course of training" that includes the eight fold path of Yoga (http://www.rushingwateryoga.com/eight_limbs_poster_may2014.pdf). Commit to practicing something everyday for 21 days. Start slow and be consistent. Work to penetrate deep into your own psyche and see what happens. Experiment!

Blessings,

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

Monday, December 8, 2014

Freedom

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are exploring Freedom.

Just as a fire is covered by smoke and a mirror is obscured by dust, just as the embryo rests deep within the womb, wisdom is hidden by selfish desire.
 
                                                  – Bhagavad Gita

This verse is taken from the Bhagavad Gita, a short Sanskrit work of seven hundred verses that has fascinated and inspired mystics, physicists, psychologists, and philosophers of many countries for three thousand years. Set on a battlefield on the morning before a fierce battle, the Gita uses warfare as a metaphor for our personal struggle with the challenges of life.

The Gita's message is simple but profound: our native state is freedom. What we want most from life is to be free of all the mental compulsions that keep us from living in peace with ourselves, with others, and with the environment. This desire for freedom is at the core of our personality, says the Gita, and our failings only hide our real nature like dust obscuring the face of a mirror.

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

The homework is to use your Yoga practices to explore what "freedom" really means. Does practicing the same thing, the same way encourage freedom? Does challenging yourself physically and mentally encourage freedom? See for yourself what encourages the type of freedom referenced in the Bhagavad Gita.

Blessings,

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

Monday, December 1, 2014

Patience


Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are exploring Patience.

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude.
 
                                                  – I Corinthians

To excel in anything you have to have patience; but if you want to love, patience is an absolute necessity. You may be dashing, glamorous, fascinating, and alluring; you may be tall, dark, and handsome, or whatever the current fancy may be. Without patience, you can never become a great lover; it would be a contradiction in terms.

"Well," most of us say, "I guess that leaves me out. Patience has never been my strong point." Very, very few of us are born patient. Our age has been called the age of anxiety, the age of anger; but we could just as easily say the age of impatience. You see it in supermarket lines, on the highway, on the tennis court, in the schoolyard, in the political arena, on the bus. With all this we have begun to believe that impatience is our natural state. Fortunately, love is our natural state, and patience is something that everybody can learn.

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

The homework is to learn first to be patient with your practice of Yoga asana. When you are faced with something you cannot physically do see what it is you can do and be content with that. Patanjali's Yoga Sutras present Adhyatma-prasada means calmness, or clarity, of the inner being,  (1:47) and  Upeksha which means equanimity, (1:33). Together these words convey the meaning of patience. Through the observation in your practice and your experiences off of the mat see if you can move towards this native state of being.

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

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ishvara Pranidhana and Sacrificing our own Self-importance


Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are exploring Ishvara Pranidhana, the fifth Niyama.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity....It turns problems into gifts, failure into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates vision for tomorrow."

                                                                                                            - Melody Beattie

Consider Ishvara Pranidhana the fifth Niyama. Ishvara represents that living symbol of the divine that is in our hearts and Pranidhana a profound recognition of that which sustains us and gives meaning to our lives. Literally it means surrender to God.

Ishvara Pranidhana is fundamentally about a relationship to something higher than or beyond ourselves.  It may be a higher force, as in the context of traditional religious traditions, or it may be in relation to human values, such as kindness and compassion.  In either case, it will manifest in our lives as the ability to let go of the tyranny of our self-importance – whether it reveals itself as pride and arrogance, or self-pity and low self-esteem.  It will awaken in us attitudes such as gratitude and appreciation.  As a result, we will be able to simply wake up in the morning and say,”Ah, I’m alive another day.”  We will feel grateful in our hearts for the gift of this life.  We will take the time to look and appreciate the beauty around us.  In our relationships we will become open to receiving each other with respect and appreciation.       

Homework:  What does the concept of “sacrificing your own self-importance” mean to you to?   Does this sacrifice have to come before the qualities of kindness, compassion, gratitude, appreciation and respect can be cultivated?  What little step can you take today to begin or deepen your practice of Ishvara Pranidhana?

References:
Quoted and paraphrased from Iyengar the Yoga Master, edited by Kofi Busia, Kriya Yoga: Transformation Through Practice – A Western Perspective, by Gary Kraftsow.

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, November 17, 2014

Oneness


Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are exploring Oneness.

We have to take the whole universe as the expression of the one Self. Then only our love flows to all beings and creatures in the world equally.
 
                                                  – Swami Ramdas

You and I appear to be separate. We differ in color, size, and shape. Differences in ideas, tastes, and prejudices mark us as individuals to be reckoned with. Beneath this apparent division, however, hidden deep within each of us is the one Self - eternal, infinite, ever-perfect. This is the closely guarded secret of life: that we are all caught up in a divine masquerade, and all we are trying to do is take off our masks to reveal the pure, perfect Self within.

In our present condition, we have forgotten we are wearing masks. Fortunately, the Self will not allow us to forget him, but keeps on calling to us. In order to find the Self, we must look deep within ourselves. When we succeed, our purpose in life will be fulfilled, and all our anger against others will melt into unfathomable love, all our fear of others into unshakable security.

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

The homework is to learn for yourself how the practices of Yoga help us experience the interconnections between ourselves and our environment. Then observe what the impact is from this experience.

Blessings,

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

Monday, November 10, 2014

Patience and Learning to L O V E

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are exploring patience and learning to L O V E.

You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; in just the same way, you learn to love by loving.
 
                                                  – Saint Francis de Sales

In learning to love, we start where we are - somewhat selfish, somewhat self-centered, but with a deep desire to relate lovingly to each other, to move closer and closer together. Love grows by practice; there is no other way. There will be setbacks as well as progress. But there is one immediate consolation: we don't have to wait until our love is perfect to reap the benefits of it. Even with a little progress, everyone benefits - not only those we live with, but ourselves as well.

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

The homework is to apply your Yoga practices to your practice of Love. Just as in Asana there is always setbacks and progress. Use the patience you cultivate through the ups and downs of your Yoga practices to help you keep coming back to your commitment to Love.

Blessings,

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

Monday, November 3, 2014

Ahimsa, Non-harming or Love

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are exploring the first Yama: Ahimsa, non-harming or Love.

Love bears it out even to the edge of doom.  
 
                                                  – William Shakespeare

Most of us can spend years in personal pursuits without ever taking time to know the needs of people in our own home, in our neighborhood, at work. It may be rarely that we give our energy to serving their needs. We sometimes forget that our nascent capacity for love is the greatest thing we shall ever have. To nurture it, we may have to forget our private adventures in profit and pleasure for the sake of others, but that is how love grows.

It takes a lifetime to learn to love. Love does not burst forth one morning with a display of fireworks. It grows little by little every day, by bearing with people, as Shakespeare's sonnet says, "even to the edge of doom." That is what love requires. But if we make it our first priority, no matter what difficulties come our way, our love cannot help but grow.

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

The homework is to learn to make Love your first priority. Draw upon your Yoga practice to support your commitment. One way to do that is to study Ahimsa, non-harming or Love, and learn how to apply this concept in your practices and in your relationships.

Blessings,

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

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Fifth and Sixth Limbs of Yoga: Pratyahara and Dharana


Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are exploring the fifth and sixth limbs of Yoga: Pratyahara – refinement and/or withdrawal of the senses and Dharana – concentration.

There is no greater trouble for thee than thine own self, for when thou art occupied with thyself, thou remainest away from God.  
 
                                                  – Abu Sa'id

Do you want to be free? Most of us are held hostage in life by our likes and dislikes. We are bound by countless little preferences in food, clothing, decor, entertainment - the list goes on and on.

The person with rigid tastes in one area, for example in food, is likely to have rigid tastes elsewhere as well. He will probably enjoy only one kind of music, she will appreciate only one style of art, and when it comes to people, he has very definite allergies. In any case, a rigid person is conditioned to be happy only so long as he gets everything the way he likes it. Otherwise - which may be most of the time - he is unhappy over something.

The way we respond to small matters reflects the way we will respond to the larger matters of life. If we can begin to release ourselves from our little likes and dislikes, we will find that we are gaining the capacity to weather emotional storms. Then we can begin to face whatever comes calmly and courageously.

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

The homework is to consider the fifth and sixth limbs of Yoga: Pratyahara – refinement and/or withdrawal of the senses and Dharana – concentration, as a way to help you observe your likes and dislikes.  As you observe see if you can challenge some of your automatic response patterns and rigidity.  See for yourself if challenging some of your patterns of response and rigidity allows you to approach life more calmly and courageously.

Blessings,

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

Monday, October 13, 2014

Isvara Pranidhana


Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are exploring Isvara Pranidhana. Translated as surrender to God and/or as dedication to humanity.

He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love.  
 
                                                  – I John

These words sound so ethereal that most of us cannot connect them with daily life. What, we ask, do personal relationships have to do with the divine? I would reply that it is by discovering the unity between ourselves and others - all others - that we find our unity with God. We don't first get to know God and then, by some miracle of grace, come to love our fellow human beings. Loving others comes first. In this sense, learning to love is practicing religion. Those who can put the welfare of others before their own small personal interests are religious, even if they would deny it.

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

The homework is to consider the fifth Niyama (the Niyamas are the second limb of the eight limbs of Yoga), Isvara Pranidhana. Translated as surrender to God and/or as dedication to humanity. Learn for yourself if the art of dedicating all your actions to humanity allows for the reflection of your own inner divinity.

Blessings,

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

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Practice of Letting go of Desires

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are exploring the practice of letting go of desires.

Remember that you ought to behave in life as you would at a banquet. As something is being passed around, it comes to you. When it comes to you, stretch out your hand gently, take a portion of it politely, but pass it on. Or, it has not come to you yet. Do not project your desire to meet it. So act always in life.
                                                                                    – Epictetus

This is the nature of desire: it jumps out from the present to the future. When you have a very pleasant event planned, the desire has jumped out already to meet it. Even though this particular event will take place on Saturday, and today is Monday, half of you is already living in Saturday.

And next Monday morning, you will be at your desk, remembering the great day you had Saturday.

Epictetus says, don't ever let your desire jump out to the future, and don't let your mind wander to the past, because you will never be present in the here and now.

If, for example, you are going to the theater to see Anthony and Cleopatra, it is only when you get into the theater that you let your attention dwell on it completely. Until then, you don't think about it. And when you are watching the play, you are there completely, with no wisp of consciousness wandering to what your boss said to you yesterday about the project that is late, and no wandering to what you would like for breakfast tomorrow. You are there completely, sailing down the Nile with Cleopatra.
  
Words to Live By: Inspiration for Every Day – Eknath Easwaran

The homework is to look at your desires with the idea that all desire leads to disappointment.  Then cultivate the practice of letting go of desires.  Make a list of some of the desires you are “holding” on to.  Be honest with yourself.  Let the list sit for a few days and then revisit it and see if any revisions are in order.  Then choose one thing from your list to completely let go of.  Say to yourself, “This moment is the perfect moment to let go.”  Continue with this practice and all that will be left is love.  
 
Excerpts paraphrased 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

Monday, September 29, 2014

How Dharana (one-pointed concentration) Works Together with Ahimsa (non-harming, Love).

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are exploring how Dharana (one-pointed concentration) works together with Ahimsa (non-harming, Love).

When one is rising, standing, walking, doing something, stopping, one should constantly concentrate one's mind on the act and the doing of it, not on one's relation to the act, or its character or value. . . . One should simply practice concentration of the mind on the act itself.

                                                              – Ashvaghosha

There is a close connection between deep concentration and love, and with the practice of one-pointed attention we can greatly increase the precious capacity to remain loving and loyal no matter what the vicissitudes or circumstances we encounter.

We can practice this one-pointedness throughout the day by doing one thing at a time, and giving our full attention to whatever we are doing. While having breakfast, for example, we can give our complete attention to the food and not to the newspaper. If we are listening to a friend, even if a parrot flies down and perches on his head, we should not get excited, point to the parrot, and burst out, "Excuse me for interrupting, but there's a bird on your head." We should be able to concentrate so hard on what our friend is saying that we can tell this urge, "Don't distract me. Afterwards, I'll tell him about the parrot."

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

The homework is to explore through your Yoga practices how Dharana (one-pointed concentration) works together with Ahimsa (non-harming, Love) to help cultivate Love and loyalty no matter what the situation.
    
Blessings,

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

Monday, September 22, 2014

Discriminative Knowledge (Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, II:26)

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are exploring discriminative knowledge (Yoga Sutras of Patanjali II:26).

Loss of discrimination is the greatest source of danger.

                                                              – Sanskrit proverb

The greatest source of danger to a human being is loss of discrimination, and this is the main malady in our modern  civilization, where we have lost our capacity to differentiate between what is necessary and useful, and what is unnecessary and harmful.

How often do we stop and ask, "What is really important? What matters most to me?"

If every one of us starts asking this simple question, it will transform our daily lives and even the world in which we live. After all, we need clean air and water more than we need microwave ovens. Doing work that is meaningful and of service to others is more important than owning luxury cars. We need loving human relationships more than we need home entertainment systems.

Many modern conveniences make life more pleasant and can save time. We needn't live without them, but when we begin to think such things are not merely useful but prized possessions, we may gradually lose our discrimination.

In order to understand what is important in life, what our real priorities are, discrimination is essential.

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

The homework is to study Yoga sutra II:26, "The ceaseless flow of discriminative knowledge in thought, word and deed destroys ignorance, the source of pain."*  Patanjali suggests that developing discernment, the faculty of discrimination, and seeing clearly what is essential without any ambiguity leads to a lucid mind that perceives the world objectively and positively. Ask yourself how do the practices of Yoga help to cultivate discernment and discriminative knowledge?
 
References: *Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, BKS Iyengar and The Essence of Yoga, Bouanchaud

 
Blessings,

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

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dharana, or Concentration

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are exploring Dharana, or concentration.

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.
                                                              – George Bernard Shaw

All of us have tasted the freedom and happiness that self-forgetfulness brings. In watching a good game of tennis or becoming engrossed in a novel, the satisfaction comes not so much from what we are watching or reading as from the act of absorption itself. For that brief span, our burden of personal thoughts is forgotten. Then we find relief, for what lies beneath that burden is a still, clear state of awareness.

The scientist or the artist absorbed in creative work is happy because she has forgotten herself in what she is doing. But nowhere will you find personalities so joyous, so unabashedly lighthearted, as those who have lost themselves in love for all. That is the joy we glimpse in Saint Francis or Mahatma Gandhi. To look at the lives of men and women like these is to see what joy means.

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

The homework is to notice how the more you can concentrate (Dharana - the 6th limb of Yoga) during your Yoga practice the more relaxed you feel afterwards. Then try and apply this process to your daily life and see what happens.
 
Blessings,

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

Monday, September 8, 2014

Becoming More Literate in Love

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are exploring becoming more literate in Love.

Love seeks no cause beyond itself and no fruit; it is its own fruit, its own enjoyment. I love because I love; I love in order that I may love.

                                                              – Saint Bernard

It takes a good deal of experience of life to see why some relationships last and others do not. But we do not have to wait for a crisis to get an idea of the future of a particular relationship. Our behavior in little everyday incidents tells us a great deal.

We only need to ask ourselves, "Am I ready to put the other person first?" If the answer is yes, that relationship is likely to grow deeper and more rewarding with the passage of time, whatever problems may come. If the answer is no, that relationship may not be able to withstand the testing that life is bound to bring.

Relationships break down, not because we are bad, but because we are illiterate in love.

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

The homework is to work to become more literate in Love. Work on cultivating unconditional love.  Start by putting others needs before your own without any thought of getting something in return.  Try to extend this love to those closest to you first and move out from there.
 
Blessings,

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

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The first Yama: Ahimsa - love, non-harming.

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we are exploring the first Yama: Ahimsa - love, non-harming.

Ahimsa is the attribute of the soul, and therefore, to be practiced by everybody in all affairs of life. If it cannot be practiced in all departments, it has no practical value.

                                                   -Mahatma Gandhi

Ahimsa is usually translated as "nonviolence," but this is misleading and falls far short of the real significance of the word. When all violence has subsided in my heart, my native state is love. I would add that even avoiding a person we dislike can be a subtle form of himsa or violence. Therefore, in everyday terms, ahimsa often means bearing with difficult people.

In Kerala we have a giant, fierce-looking plant called elephant nettle. You have only to walk by for it to stretch out and sting you. By the time you get home, you have a blister that won't let you think about anything else. My grandmother used to say, "A self-willed person is like an elephant nettle."

That is why the moment we see somebody who is given to saying unkind things, we make a detour. We pretend we have suddenly remembered something that takes us in another direction, but the fact is that we just don't want to be stung. Whenever I complained of a classmate I did not like, my granny would say, "Here, you have to learn to grow. Go near him. Let yourself slowly get comfortable around him; then give him your sympathy and help take the sting out of his nettleness."

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

The homework is to practice being more tolerant of people that irritate you.  Try to find common ground with these people.  Start with little things like we all need shelter and food.  Work from there to cultivate more understanding, more respect, more tolerance and more love.    


Blessings,

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

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pranayama and Dharana

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we will be exploring the breath and concentration as a way to choose thoughts that are supportive to you and those around you.

We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.

                                      – Swami Vivekananda

The ancestor of every destructive action, every destructive decision, is a negative thought. We do not have to be afraid of negative thoughts as long as we do not welcome them. They are in the air, and they may knock at anyone's door; but if we do not embrace them, ask them in, and make them our own, they can have no power over us.

We can think of thoughts as hitchhikers. At the entrance to the freeway, we used to see a lot of hitchhikers carrying signs: "Vancouver," "Mexico," "L.A." One said in simple desperation, "Anywhere!" Thoughts are a lot like those hitchhikers. We can pick them up or pass them by. Negative thoughts carry signs, but usually we see only one side, the side with all the promises. The back of the sign tells us their true destination: sickness and sorrow.

Nobody is obliged to pick up these passengers. If we do not stop and let them in, they cannot go anywhere, because they are not real until we support them. There is sympathy in the world: pick it up. There is antipathy in the world: don't pick it up. Hatred destroys. Love heals.

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

The homework is to learn how you can use the breath (pranayama) as a way to interrupt the mind and slow it down.  Learn to use the concentration (dharana) you develop in your asana practice to direct the mind in ways that encourage the scrutiny of your thoughts.  Combine the use of both the breath and concentration to choose thoughts that are supportive to you and those around you. 

Blessings,

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

Monday, August 4, 2014

Pratyahara or the Withdrawal or Refinement of the Senses - the Fifth Limb of Yoga

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we will be exploring Pratyahara or the withdrawal or refinement of the senses - the fifth limb of Yoga.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.

                                      – John Muir

When we see the world with new, spiritual eyes, we realize it is God's beach, God's ocean, God's world. We see ourselves as waves in the ocean of love that is God. We are not separate from one another, we realize, but we all exist as part of the sea, as a wave of the infinite ocean. This is seeing spiritually: seeing everything joined together - the waves of the sea, the light in the sky, the birds skimming along the whitecaps, the dogs running, the children playing, the warmth of the sand - everything together.

It is impossible to put this experience into words, but all those who try to do so describe it as a deep sense of fellowship with all creatures, from the little sandpipers to the mighty leviathans of the deep.

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

The homework is to refine your senses to really experience your environment. Learn to really notice, without intellectualizing or describing, your physical environment. This is practicing Pratyahara or the withdrawal or refinement of the senses - the fifth limb of Yoga. See if this practice encourages you to turn the senses inward towards the soul.

Blessings,

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

Monday, July 28, 2014

Facing our Habits in Yoga Asana

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we will be exploring facing our habits in Yoga asana.

Genius . . . means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an inhabitual way.

                                      – William James

Attention is very much like a searchlight, and it should be mounted in such a way that it can be trained on any subject freely. When we are caught up in some compulsion, this searchlight has become stuck. After many years of being stuck like this, it is hard to believe that the light can turn. We think that the compulsion has become a permanent part of our personality. But gradually, we can learn to work our attention free.

As an experiment, try to work cheerfully at some job you dislike: you are training your attention to go where you want it to go. Whatever you do, give it your best concentration. Another good exercise is learning to drop what you are doing and shift your attention to something else when the situation demands. For example, when you leave your office, leave your work there. Don't let it follow you home and come into the dining room like an untrained dog, barking at your heels.

All this is the spiritual equivalent of kicking exercises in a dance lesson or knee bends in an aerobics class. By practicing these exercises, anybody can learn to direct attention freely.

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

The homework is to notice how your Yoga asana practice brings to light your habits, likes and dislikes. Challenge yourself when you find you are going on automatic when practicing asana and make your practice more in the moment and more dynamic. Learn how this practice can then be generalized to your life off of the mat.

Blessings,

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

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Divine Self Within


Greetings Sadhakas,


This week in class we will be exploring the divine Self within.

Try to treat with equal love all the people with whom you have relations. Thus the abyss between "myself" and "yourself" will be filled in, which is the goal of all religious worship.

                                  – Anandamayi Ma
  
Love is a skill, a precious skill that can be learned. There are many other skills that are useful, even necessary, but in the end, nothing less than learning to love will satisfy us.

The saints and mystics of all religions tell us that life has only one overriding purpose: to discover the source of infinite love and then to express this love in daily living. Without love, life is empty; without love, life is meaningless. The only purpose which can satisfy us completely, fulfill all our desires, and then make our life a gift to the whole world, is the gradual realization of the divine Self within, which throws open the gates of love. We cannot dream what depth and breadth of love we are capable of until we make the discovery that this divine spark lives in every creature.

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

The homework is to make the connection for yourself how your own Yoga practices can help you discover your true reality - this divine Self within.  BKS Iyengar says " “It is through and with your body that you have to reach realization of being a spark of divinity.”

Blessings,

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

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dharana or Concentration


Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we will be exploring sixth limb of Yoga, Dharana or concentration.

Familiar acts are beautiful through love.

                                                            – Percy Bysshe Shelley

By giving full attention to one thing at a time, we can learn to direct attention where we choose. Simple, yet essential to the practice of love! Being one-pointed means we can give the person we are with our complete attention, even if she is contradicting our opinion on tax reform or explaining the peculiarities of French grammar. Once we can do this, boredom disappears from our relationships. People are not boring; we get bored because our attention wanders. When we can give someone our full attention, our attitude says clearly, “You matter to me. You have my respect.”

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

The homework is to work on directing your attention to one thing at a time. This is practicing Dharana, the sixth limb of Yoga.  Challenge the concept of multi-tasking and work to be present in whatever you do.  In your personal relationships practice listening with full attention and when you wander away from being present, draw yourself back in fully.

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, July 7, 2014

The Second Niyama, Saucha or Purity


Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we will be exploring  the second Niyama, Saucha or purity.

As an archer aims the arrow, the wise aim their restless thoughts, hard to aim, hard to restrain.
- The Buddha

Thoughts are things, even though we cannot hold them in our hands or see them with our eyes. This is very different from our usual view. Usually we consider thoughts as immaterial, so we are not aware of how a fleeting thought can affect us. If I throw a beach ball at you, it won't hurt much; in five minutes you will have forgotten about it. But if I say something harsh to you, you will not be able to forget that thought; you will take it home in your mind, have nightmares about it, and wake up oppressed the next morning. We all know from personal experience how a harsh comment from a parent or a friend can rankle in our consciousness for years. This is the immense power of thoughts.

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

The homework is to apply the second Niyama, Saucha or purity to your thought process.  Saucha is keeping our bodies clean outwardly through bathing, through the foods we eat, the exercises we do, as well as inwardly through the thoughts we think. Think about how angry words and thoughts affect you. What happens to your relationships when you get angry? How do you feel when you get angry? How does your body feel? Our actions as well as our thoughts can pollute not only the world around us but our inner world as well.

Blessings,

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

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The goal of Yoga, to still the fluctuations of the mind.


Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we will be exploring the goal of  Yoga, to still the fluctuations of the mind.

Imagine if all the tumult of the body were to quiet down, along with our busy thoughts. Imagine if all things that are perishable grew still. And imagine if that moment were to go on and on, leaving behind all other sights and sounds but this one vision which ravishes and absorbs and fixes the beholder in joy, so that the rest of eternal life were like that moment of illumination which leaves us breathless.

                                      – Saint Augustine

As I reach the spiritual summit, I hardly feel my body. My mind is still; my ego has been set at rest. The peace in my heart matches the peace at the heart of nature. This is my native state, the state to which I have been striving through the long travail of evolution to return. No longer am I a feverish fragment of life; I am indivisible from the whole.

I live completely in the present, released from the prison of the past with its haunting memories and vain regrets, released from the prison of the future with its tantalizing hopes and tormenting fears. All the enormous capacities formerly trapped in past and future flow to me here and now, concentrated in the hollow of my palm. No longer driven by desire for personal pleasure or profit, I am free to use all these capacities to alleviate the suffering of those around me. In living for others, I come to life.

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

The homework is to make the connection for yourself from your own experience how the goal of Yoga, to still the fluctuations of the mind, brings you to a place of being completely present in the moment. Also consider how the practice of asana moves 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

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Clear Picture of the Meaning of Tapas


Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we will be exploring the meaning of Tapas.

On the one hand I felt the call of God; on the other, I continued to follow the world. All the things of God gave me great pleasure, but I was held captive by those of the world. I might have been said to be trying to reconcile these two extremes, to bring contraries together: the spiritual life on the one hand and worldly satisfactions, pleasures, and pastimes on the other.

                                      – Saint Teresa of Avila

Saint Teresa of Avila was a remarkably spiritual woman. Even as a girl she could say passionately, "I want something that will last forever!" Yet this woman who was to become one of the world's greatest mystics went through twenty years of doubt and struggle before becoming established in God. If Teresa took twenty years, can people like you and me think of doing it in less? Her words can inspire all of us, for everyone begins with doubts and conflicts. Little people like us are likely to be haunted by them - and to feel frequently disheartened for a long, long time.

When you have doubts about your capacity for spiritual progress, don't be defeatist. Remember these words of Saint Teresa and keep striving, keep on trying. This is all we are expected to do.

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

The homework is to reflect on the effort you have been putting towards your practices -  not just yoga asana.  Consider the third Niyama, Tapas, which is translated as discipline, austerities, and heat.  Tapas can also mean effort.  Here Saint Teresa is presents a clear picture of the meaning of Tapas.

Blessings,

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

Monday, June 2, 2014

Commit to Practicing for the Long Haul

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we will be exploring practicing for the long haul.

Out of compassion I destroy the darkness of their ignorance. From within them I light the lamp of wisdom and dispel all darkness from their lives.

                                      – Bhagavad Gita

With infinite tenderness, the Lord lets it dawn on us only gradually that we are not separate, that we belong entirely to him. If this realization were to come overnight, ordinary people like you and me would not be able to withstand it; it would be more than our nervous systems could bear. That is why the Lord is so gentle with us; he spreads the transformation from separateness to unity out over many years so that all these changes in the mind and body can take place gradually. Often we are not even aware they are taking place until we look back and remember how we were some years before.

We should not ask when illumination will come. We should have a patient impatience to reach the goal. Finally, after many years, no matter what our past has been, we will begin to live in the light that knows no night. The temple may have been dark for a thousand years, but once the lamp is lit, every corner will be ablaze with light.

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

The homework is to remember three of the Niyamas: Santosa or Contentment, Tapas or  discipline, austerities, heat and Svadhyaya or self-study. Learn to be patient and content as you consistently and with much vigor develop your practice. Commit to practicing for the long haul.

Blessings,

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

Monday, May 26, 2014

Cultivating an Alertness to Life Without Thinking


Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we will be exploring cultivating an alertness to life without thinking.

Reason is like an officer when the King appears. The officer then loses his power and hides himself. Reason is the shadow cast by God; God is the sun.

                                      – Jalaluddin Rumi

Thinking, however useful it may be at times, is not the highest human faculty; it is only a stage in development. If, for example, in the throes of evolution we had stopped with instinct, saying, "This is the highest possible mode of knowing," our human future would have been stunted: I would not be seated here writing these words, nor would you be reading them.

Like instinct, reason is only a way station. When friends and I go to San Francisco to see a play, we sometimes stop halfway along to stretch our legs. But we don't get so involved in stretching legs that we forget to go on to the theater. Thought is a useful but temporary stopping station; it should not be considered a permanent solution to the problems of living. Just as we were able to rise above instinct and to develop reason, we must one day pass beyond discursive thinking and enter into a higher mode of knowing.

We cannot solve the problems of the mind with the mind. We cannot solve our problems by thinking about them, analyzing them, talking about them. In meditation, we often simply leave personal problems behind - we move out of the neighborhood where they live.

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

The homework is to use your Yoga practices to encourage a state of being, or an alertness to life without thinking.

Blessings,

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

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Life of Selfless Service and Becoming a Spiritual Teacher

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we will be exploring a life of selfless service and becoming a spiritual teacher.

Those who are good and pure in conduct are honored wherever they go. The good shine like the Himalayas, whose peaks glisten above the rest of the world even when seen from a distance.

                                      –The Buddha

People who are good, kind, selfless, and hardworking for the welfare of others will be very deeply loved, very deeply respected wherever they go. It is a simple law of human nature that we love the highest. We want to be like such people, and we want to lead the kind of life they lead. This is the saving grace of human nature: when we see someone who is patient, kind, forgiving, and forbearing, we begin to trust him, to love her.

Such people have such a deep, loving concern for us that they will block our way when we are going astray. They will point out, very sweetly, very tenderly, when we are on the wrong path, and then they will support us and help us to change our direction. This is the role of the spiritual teacher, the person we can trust to stand in our way when we aren't strong enough, wise enough to make the right choice.

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

The homework is to imagine a world where we all live life for others and see Divinity in every person we meet – a life of selfless service.  Experiment with and practice this concept of selfless service and apply it to your life.  Look to the Bhagavad Gita translated by Eknath Easwaran for guidance on becoming a spiritual teacher.

Blessings,

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

Monday, May 5, 2014

Yoga Sutra I:II

Greetings Sadhakas,

This week in class we will be exploring Yoga Sutra I:II.

Let the wise guard their thoughts, which are difficult to perceive, which are extremely subtle, which wander at will. Thought which is well guarded is the bearer of happiness.

                                      –The Buddha

When the mind has become completely still, when there is no movement at all - neither on the conscious level nor in the unconscious depths - then there is no anger, fear, or greed.

When in deep meditation the turbulent factory of the mind closes down for just a few minutes, we find a soothing stillness which heals the body, mind, intellect, and spirit. In this stillness we feel the enormous draw of the ocean of pure love deep within, pulling us into a union that is complete peace, complete joy, and complete fulfillment. Then it is we realize that boundless joy has been right there within us all the time, joy that cannot be limited by separateness and does not depend on any circumstances outside, but is an abiding legacy that never leaves us. This is what is meant by everlasting life, which we can find here and now.

The stilled mind is spirit - eternal, infinite, immutable, and indivisible. When the mind has been completely stilled from top to bottom there can be no separateness.

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

The homework is to consider PYS 1:2, "The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga" (The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Sri Swami Satichidananda). BKS Iyengar writes that "Restraint of the movements of thought brings about stillness (dharana), which leads to silence (dhyana) with awareness." Ask yourself if your practices can transform how you think.

References: Light on the Yoga Sutras, BKS Iyenger , The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Sri Swami Satichidananda and The Essence of Yoga, Bouanchaud

Blessings,

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