Monday, September 27, 2010

Remembering Ramesh on Mahasamadhi Day

All there is, is Consciousness...

Honoring my beloved advaita (non-duality) Teacher, Ramesh S. Balsekar with love, gratitude, and remembrance.

Guruji entered mahasamadhi, the ultimate re-union with Consciousness, one year ago, September 27, 2009.

Thank you, Guruji, for telling It like It Is.

You are one powerful Master - a Jnani warrior.
Your forever-grateful disciple,

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (left) and Ramesh Balsekar
Bombay (Mumbai), India
c. 1978

Ramesh S. Balsekar and Erin
Bombay (Mumbai), India

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thoughts Are Things: Pranayama

The simple act of watching the breath as it moves in and out of the nostrils, or as the abdomen fills and empties, does wonders for our peace of mind.

Observing the breath is a form of witnessing, and develops concentration and non-attachment, both of which enable us to remain present and calm, no matter what is whirling around us.

Even if a cyclone hits, or the energies of a particularly volatile Full Moon are swirling through our lives (as they are this week), if we are trained to go back to our breath, immediately, we are in the moment. From this place, we can handle most anything that comes our way.

This is the most basic form of pranayama: breath awareness.

Sri Krishna gives pranayama direction in the Bhagavad Gita (4.29):

Apane juhvati pranam

prane panam tatha pare

Prana panagati ruddhva pranayamaparayanah

“Yet others offer as a sacrifice the outgoing breath in the incoming, and the incoming in the outgoing, restraining the flow of the outgoing and incoming breaths, solely absorbed in the regulation of the life-energy.”

Thoughts Are Things

Prana is the vital force from which the entire universe is made. In prana’s gross manifestation, we have matter. In prana’s subtle manifestation, we have mind-stuff, or citta. A single thought is the subtlest form of prana.

Think about that: thoughts really ARE things!

We use the breath to practice controlling the very life-force itself, as breath is the form of prana nearest to our body-mind organism.

Swami Vivekananda, who played a huge part in introducing yoga to the west, explains that breathing is only one of the ways in which we get to the real pranayama, in which we become masters of all of creation. Perhaps this is the foundation of what we call ‘manifestation’ in our modern lingo.

Since the entire focus of yoga is calming the mind, a yogi works with the principle that there is a direct link between handling the breath and handling the mind. There are two major pranayama yoga schools to this end: hatha and Patanjali. In hatha pranayama, the emphasis is on holding the breath through force, whereas in Patanjali pranayam school the emphasis is on slow, deep, rhythmic breathing in order to calm the mind.

Nadi Shodhana: Balancing the Mind and Body

A key form of pranayama is nadi shodhana (nadi = channel; shodhana = purify). Nadi Shodhana is “alternate-nostril breathing.” It is a powerful and simple means of purifying and controlling prana. In Nadi Shodhana, we balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain by alternately stimulating the Ida, the female side (also known as “Chandra-nadi” or “Moon Channel”) and the Pingala, the male side (also known as “Surya-nadi” or “Sun Channel.”

In Patanjali pranayama, the practitioner may reach a natural suspension of breath, “kevala kumbhaka.” Patanjali writes, Chale vate chitam chalet, nischale vate nischalam bhavet, or “When breath moves, mind moves and when breath stops, mind stops.”

The sadhaka, after sufficient pranayama practice, is prepared to practice dharana (concentration). In dharana, the yogi works with prana further by focusing a single-pointed awareness on the object of concentration.

To me, the whole point of asana - physical yoga practice - is to prepare the body for meditation. And, the whole point of meditation as a sitting process is to be at peace and fully alert; the body-mind has a better opportunity then to grasp the true nature of reality. At this stage of understanding, there is no requirement for practices - they may come, they may go. The yogi, the sage, the master is at peace no matter what is happening.

Working with prana culminates at the time of a yogi’s death, or mahasamadhi: when it is time for departure, with great humility, the yogi brings all his prana between the eyebrows in the ajna chakra (third eye) and then departs from the physical body, obtaining mukti or final liberation.

Om Shanti

Friday, September 17, 2010

Welcome to India!

It's been too long, weather's getting cold, and so...

Feels like time for a little India action!

Turn up the volume, click play and view Full Screen,
or go straight to YouTube here.

From my heart to yours.