Category Archives: Meditation

aad guray

Aad Guray Nameh  / I bow to the primal truth;

Jugaad Guray Nameh  / I bow to the truth for all creation;

Sat Guray Nameh / I bow to the perfect truth;

Siri Guru Dev-ay Nameh / I bow to the great invisible truth.

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yoga for chronic pain

yoga for chronic pain

Worldwide, 1 in every 5 adults suffers from chronic pain (Breivik, Hattori & Moulin 2005). In the United States, the number is even higher. A recent survey found that more than half of Americans live with chronic or recurring pain that interferes with their mood, sleep, ability to work and enjoyment of life (ABC News 2005). The National Institutes of Health (NIH), citing pain as the number-one reason Americans seek medical care, estimates that the annual total cost of pain in the U.S. is more than $100 billion in health care and lost productivity (NIH 2003). To address this growing problem, Congress officially declared 2000–2010 the “Decade of Pain Control and Research.” Halfway through this 10-year period, yoga has emerged as a powerful tool to help relieve the suffering associated with chronic pain.

Understanding Chronic Pain

Chronic pain triggers vary broadly and include traumatic injury, autoimmune disorders and musculoskeletal problems. Whatever the initial cause, all chronic pain shares a common effect: the frustration it causes to both sufferers and healthcare providers. By its very definition, chronic pain—pain that lasts 3 months or longer—has not been successfully managed through medical treatment or self-care. Individuals with chronic pain have typically tried—and found little relief from—an exhausting number of remedies, including over-the-counter and prescription medications, massage, chiropractic care and physical therapy.

Yoga Research Reiew

Because chronic pain is a mind-body phenomenon, many researchers and chronic-pain sufferers are turning to yoga for pain relief. Yoga integrates physical movement, which can play an important role in pain recovery, with mindful practices that address the cognitive and emotional components of pain. Studies show that yoga can reduce not only the experience of pain itself but also the emotional distress and physical disability associated with it, as well as the use of pain medication (Kolasinski et al. 2005; Garfinkel et al. 1998; Gaur et al. 2001). Two recent clinical trials demonstrated the benefits of yoga for back pain, the most commonly experienced form of pain among adults in the U.S. (ABC News 2005).

Building Self-Efficacy

Research suggests that self-efficacy, the belief that you can cope with the stress and challenges of a specific situation, is an important part of recovering from, or adjusting to, chronic pain (Turner, Ersek & Kemp 2005). Greater self-efficacy is associated with less pain-related disability and depression, even when controlling for pain intensity. Self-efficacy also predicts individuals’ willingness to use physical exercise and stretching as a way to manage pain.

Dealing with Fear of Activity

Chronic pain and fear of pain can become part of a vicious cycle: Fear leads to avoiding any activity that might trigger pain, and inactivity leads to greater physical disability and pain (Boersma & Linton 2005). Research shows that breaking this cycle, and being willing to engage in activity, is an important predictor of improvements in both physical function and emotional suffering (McCracken & Eccleston 2005).

Teaching Mindfuness

In yoga, mindfulness is the ability to notice sensation, to focus attention on the present moment and to move with conscious intention. This turns out to be incredibly important for individuals with chronic pain, as they learn to face their fear of activity and develop new ways of being present in their bodies. Along with avoidance, many individuals have learned to rely on distraction as a coping strategy. Distraction makes it possible to ignore pain and perform an activity in the short term. However, people who use distraction as a coping strategy during activity experience more pain afterward than those who stay mentally engaged (Goubert et al. 2004).

Core Lessons

Chronic pain is a complex and frustrating phenomenon. The good news is that effective yoga for chronic pain classes do not need to be either complicated or overwhelming. Research and experience suggest that the most beneficial interventions distill the practice of yoga to its core lessons: how to breathe; how to take care of yourself through conscious movement and a balance of rest and activity; and how to make peace with the present moment. These, of course, are useful lessons for all of us—not just those in chronic pain. But for those in pain, the lessons of yoga may mean the difference between the usual moment of suffering and the much-sought-after moment of ease in mind and body.

Excerpts from Yoga for Chronic Pain: Adapted practices and interventions from hatha yoga help pain sufferers learn how to cope and thrive. By Kelly McGonigal, PhD


sadhana

   candle

For those who want to seriously practice kriyas, it is time to
formulate a specific sadhana. Sadhana means "endeavoring to obtain a
particular result." The result kriyabans seek is accelerated spiritual
evolution. Sadhana becomes a powerful method to achieve this result.
There are three important aspects of sadhana: choice, commitment and
aspiration.
 
   The first stage of sadhana is to choose a practice. Even the most
simple sadhana will be challenging to the newcomer. Consider the
sadhana of lighting a candle every night, then immediately blowing it
out.  Nothing more or nothing less. Do this for ninety days. You will
observe the mind coming up with every reason why you shouldn't do it
and every excuse why you missed a few (or many) nights. Yet by
accepting it as a sadhana, you make a choice to do it and it becomes a
spiritual practice.
 
   The second aspect of sadhana relates to regularity -- doing
something at periodic intervals. This typically would be at the same
time in the same place everyday. Yet it doesn't have to be everyday;
it could be every other day or every Tuesday and Thursday, as long as
it is regular. Doing practice irregularly is not sadhana. Once the
schedule is selected, the challenge of sadhana is to stick with it --
not to miss the appointed time. This is the first measure of
commitment. The second measure is to make a commitment for a specific
period of time; that is, choose do the practice for thirty days, sixty
days, ninety days, or even 108 days. Notice the level of your success,
then take a break. Decide upon another practice (or the same one) and
make another commitment.
 
   Yet choice and regularity are not the only aspects of sadhana. If
they were, simply dressing every day would be a sadhana. We choose
what clothes to wear and we do it.  Dressing could be a sadhana, yet
it is just a mechanical action done every day. Thus, the final key to
a successful sadhana is conscious intention. This is where the power
is generated, and more still, when the intention becomes an
aspiration.
 
   Consider once again the candle exercise cited above. Initially, it
will challenge the mind and the ego. The spiritual "you" may even win
the battle, but to keep it from becoming mechanical, an intention is
required. Try this variation. Light the candle.  Say, "This is all I
have to do for the benefit of self, other, and the world." Then blow
out the candle. Doing no other practice than this will begin a
transformation process that will alter your life. To add even more
power behind it, consider this statement, "This is all I have to do to
remember who I am; I remember this for the benefit of Self, Other,
and the World."
 
   One immediate result of sadhana is the remembrance of "who we are"
rather than "what we are" during the brief moments the sadhana takes.
Repetitively remembering our inner essence nature is at the heart of
all spiritual growth. One day we will remember our spiritual essence
in every moment. That is the realized state.
 
   So start with a simple sadhana to build your confidence. Add
another sadhana in addition to this one. Expand a sadhana to include
many practices including yoga or other bodily movement, chanting or
inner mantra, and kriya practice.
 
 
Copyright 1994, Alan Verdegraal, "Tantra: The Magazine", P.O.Box 108,
Torreon, NM 87061, Issue #8, p22-23.

Excerpt from Sadhana at sacred-texts.com


pasasana

pasasana

You can be sure that when you fold your legs like a grasshopper, bend your ankles into a superlow squat, twist in half, and hold hands with yourself behind your back, a variety of sensations and emotions will arise. Although examining those feelings is an important part of the yogic process, beware of sensation hunting. Notice whether you instinctively push and pull on yourself until the grasping noose of your arms becomes like a scary vice that inhibits your breathing. Struggling in your asana practice like this leads to injury, and it can dull your natural sensitivity to the point where you don’t feel anything at all without extreme effort. The whole idea of yoga is to tune in to yourself so that you can create more sensitivity to subtlety—not less.

At the same time, Pasasana is a pose that requires some perseverance. If you are too passive as you practice, you will miss the vibrant aspect of juicy exertion that strengthens your muscles and bones and increases your ability to stay focused. Put simply: If you don’t put enough oomph into it, you’ll never touch your hands behind your back.

The solution then, is to look for the middle path, the place where you walk the line between too much effort and complete passivity. You tap into the middle path by listening to your body, moving with sensitivity, and engaging with what’s happening. You often hear the phrase “being present to the moment.” What this really means is being part of the moment. This happens through the middle path of commitment, patience, and listening.

The Buddha offered insight into this process. The story goes that a musician asked the Buddha how he should meditate. The Buddha replied, “How do you tune your instrument?” The musician said, “Not too tight, not too loose.” The Buddha said, “Exactly like that.” If you learn to apply this to Pasasana, your noose will evolve into a warm feeling of being held and supported by yourself and by your healthy, wakeful, engaged practice.

Pasasana (Noose Pose)

Extend your legs into Dandasana, and send some refreshing breaths into your ankles, knees, and hips. Bring your knees into your chest, rolling back on your exhalation and forward on your inhalation. The last time you rock forward, come up onto your feet into a low squat.

Start by doing a variation of the pose. Squat with a block or a wall about one foot behind you. Organize your legs and feet just as you did in Utkatasana, heels and toes touching. If your heels do not touch the ground in this position, slip a folded blanket underneath them.

Exhale and twist to the right. Place the outside of your left shoulder between your legs. Internally rotate your left arm and wrap it around your left leg. Reach your right arm behind you and place it on the block or touch the wall. After a few breaths, untwist and try the other side. Continue to work this way until you feel an opening to go farther.

To develop the full pose, use your abdominals to twist to the right again, but this time place your left shoulder on the outside of the right thigh. Strongly activate the inner thighs and cinch your legs together. Internally rotate both arms and reach around behind your back to bind. Use a strap if you can’t reach. Eventually, you will hold your right wrist with your left hand. Try to find a way to hold hands with yourself so the noose can be more a garland of flowers. After a few breaths, release the pose and do the other side.

As you work on Pasasana, take time with every step of the process. Listen to your muscles, bones, connective tissue, breath, and mind. They will all have valuable suggestions for when you should engage more effort, let go a bit, or perhaps just stay where you are, waiting to see what unfolds. Eventually your experience of physical feelings in your asana practice will evolve into an evenness of sensation throughout your entire body.

Often when you feel intensity in one particular area, it draws all your attention there. The entire mind becomes occupied by the little drama of the right shoulder, and you may forget you even have a whole body. Doesn’t that sound similar to how we sometimes live life, getting stuck in the small stuff and missing the big picture? When we do that, we have a harder time keeping things in perspective and making smart choices.

Rather than going for extremes, see if you can discover subtle shifts that might begin to even out your various sensations as well as your responses to sensations. Find balance by letting your awareness spread through your whole body. Observe what happens with your breath and your mind as your body finds balance and creates a container—not too tight and not too loose—of equanimity.

Excerpts from Yoga Journal Article and Sequence Find Freedom in the Noose By Cyndi Lee


what does durga symbolize?

durga

The festival of Navratri celebrates nine nights dedicated to the nine divine forms of Goddess Durga.  A Hindu festival symbolizing the triumph of good over evil, Navratri takes place at the beginning of October around harvest time and, as the name implies, is celebrated for nine days. On the tenth day is Dussera which celebrates the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. An effigy of Ravana is burnt; often giant dummies of Ravana stuffed with fireworks are shot with arrows until it blows up. Navratri in Gujarat is celebrated with dandiya, and garba-raas.

Goddess Durga symbolizes the divine forces (positive energy) known as divine shakti (feminine energy/ power) that is used against the negative forces of evil and wickedness. She protects her devotees from evil powers and safeguards them. It is believed that Goddess Durga is the combined form of powers of Goddesses Lakshmi, Kali and Saraswati.

It is also believed that Goddess Durga was created by Lord Vishnu as a warrior goddess to protect good people (devas) for fighting the demon, Mahishasur. Her divine shakti contains the combined energies of all the gods in the form of weapons and emblems (mudras).

Goddess Durga represents the power of the Supreme Being that preserves moral order and righteousness in the creation. The Sanskrit word durga means fort or a place that is protected and thus difficult to reach. Durga, also called Divine Shakti, protects mankind from evil and misery by destroying evil forces (negative energy and vices—arrogance, jealousy, prejudice, hatred, anger, greed and selfishness).

Goddess Durga is depicted as a warrior woman with eight hands carrying weapons of different kinds assuming mudras, (symbolic hand gestures) that represent her teachings.

• Chakra in her 1st upper right hand symbolizes dharma (duty/righteousness). We must perform our duty/responsibilities in life.

• Conch in her first upper left hand symbolizes happiness. We must perform our duty happily and cheerfully and not with resentment.

• Sword in her second right lower hand symbolizes eradication of vices. We must learn to discriminate and eradicate our evil qualities.

• Bow and arrow in her second left lower hand symbolizes character like Lord Rama.  When we face difficulties in our life we should not lose our character (values).

• Lotus Flower in her third lower left hand symbolizes detachment. We must live in the world without attachment to the external world. Just like the lotus flower stays in dirty water yet smiles and gives its beauty to others. This is the only way to receive Her blessings.

• Club in her third right lower hand is the symbol of Hanuman and symbolizes devotion and surrender. Whatever we do in our life we do with love and devotion and accept the outcome as the Almighty’s will.

• Trident/Trishul in her fourth left lower hand symbolizes courage. We must have courage to eliminate our evil qualities and face the challenges in our life.

• Fourth Lower Right Hand symbolizes forgiveness and Her blessings. We must forgive ourselves and others for mistakes and/or any hurt we may have caused.

Durga Maa is depicted as riding on a lion or a tiger. A tiger symbolizes unlimited power. Durga riding a tiger indicates that She possesses unlimited power and uses it to protect virtue and destroy evil.  The lion is a symbol of uncontrolled animalistic tendencies (such as anger, arrogance, selfishness, greed, jealousy, desire to harm others etc.) and Her sitting on it reminds us to control these qualities, so that we are not controlled by them.

She is usually shown wearing a red sari.  The color red symbolizes action and the red clothes signify that She is destroying evil and protecting mankind from pain and suffering.

Thus, Goddess Durga symbolizes the Divine forces (positive energy) that is used against the negative forces of evil and wickedness. She represents pure energy (positive), known as divine light or jyoti that is the embodiment of feminine and creative energy.

This month we must pray to Maa Durga, the Universal Mother, asking Her to use Her destructive power to remove the vices within us (anger, selfish desires, greed, ego and undue attachments), imperfections and faults; and purify us to become a receptacle of her Divine Shakti—Anandamayi Shakti.

There are several mantras for Goddess Durga, but the most simple and easy mantra to remember is “Om Sri Durgaya Namah.”  It is believed that by chanting this mantra regularly the Divine Mother will remove the physical, mental and worldly problems in life and shower us with her unlimited blessings.

India Currents Magazine Article What Does Goddess Durga Symbolize? By Satya Kalra


mandala

mandalabw 14-Kalachakra-mandala-b

Mandala (Sanskrit: मण्डल Maṇḍala, ‘circle’) is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the Universe. The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point. Each gate is in the general shape of a T. Mandalas often exhibit radial balance.

The term is of Sanskrit origin. It appears in the Rig Veda as the name of the sections of the work, but is also used in other religions and philosophies, particularly Buddhism.

In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of practitioners and adepts, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as an aid to meditation and trance induction.

In common use, mandala has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe.

Forms which are evocative of mandalas are prevalent in Christianity: the celtic cross; the rosary; the halo; the aureole; oculi; the Crown of Thorns; rose windows; the Rosy Cross; and the dromenon (labyrinth) on the floor of Chartres Cathedral. The dromenon represents a journey from the outer world to the inner sacred centre where the Divine is found.

mandala bw rose window

mandala bw celtic

In his pioneering exploration of the unconscious through his own art making, Carl Jung observed the motif of the circle spontaneously appearing. The circle drawings reflected his inner state at that moment. Familiarity with the philosophical writings of India prompted Jung to adopt the word “mandala” to describe these circle drawings he and his patients made. In his autobiography, Jung wrote:

“I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing,…which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time….Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is:…the Self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious.”

—Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, pp 195 – 196.

“The mandala serves a conservative purpose—namely, to restore a previously existing order. But it also serves the creative purpose of giving expression and form to something that does not yet exist, something new and unique….The process is that of the ascending spiral, which grows upward while simultaneously returning again and again to the same point.”

—Jungian analyst Marie Louise von Franz, C. G. Jung: “Man and His Symbols,” p. 225

mandala woman

mandala mirror_abstract_geometric_decorative_interior_design_islamic_02

According to the psychologist David Fontana, its symbolic nature can help one “to access progressively deeper levels of the unconscious, ultimately assisting the meditator to experience a mystical sense of oneness with the ultimate unity from which the cosmos in all its manifold forms arises.”

mandala bw navajo

mandalaCalendar_Wiki_Maya_Calendar_001

Text excerpts from Mandala at Wikipedia


chakra balancing

chakra_balancing_mudras