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By Beata Kucienska

“Where is the door to sacredness?,” I asked the Heart.

The answer came when I was watching some birds during a sunset walk: “Sacredness is the simplicity of life.”

During the 49-Day Silent Meditation Retreat, I often had the feeling that sacredness was just a breath away… waiting for me with infinite patience. Every moment was a bottomless well… and it was up to me how deep I would dive. I was not in a hurry. I had all the time in the world to listen to the Heart. I knew that the magic would happen. And it did. One night, the waves of mystery touched my toes and sang:

Let go your burdens
Let go your worries
Surrender
And follow me
I will guide you there

Suddenly, the Earth embraced my feet and the birds became love turned into music. And I felt that I was in the most beautiful place in the world.

Every day the mind brought its usual stories. Every day the Heart called me to surrender. I knew that Beauty was waiting for me.

I listened deeply. I asked for guidance. I was longing for sacredness so much. In moments of grace, I tasted it… and then, I longed again…

My conception of meditation changed. It was no longer sitting with the back straight and the eyes closed. Life became meditation. Nature became my teacher.

Back in Samsara

“I
tried painting
But it was easier to fly slicing
potatoes.”
–Rabia Basri

Now, having returned to “normal life,” I often get lost in thoughts and activities. Then, the pain comes. I know that beauty is ever-present, but clouds cover my eyes and I cannot see it. And, it feels as if I were wasting these precious moments, these unique jewels of life. It hurts, but even this pain is made of grace.

 
49 Day Silent Meditation RetreatOnce you experience the depth of life, you can’t forget it. Swimming in shallow water is not enough anymore. It breaks your heart not to feel the sacredness of every moment. And, you allow your heart to be broken. You learn to be grateful for this pain and longing. You want to feel this wound even deeper, as it guides you along the golden thread into the Kingdom of the Heart.

You realize that everything you do in life is driven by the longing to feel sacredness again—because it is the only thing that matters. When the hour of death comes, you will clearly see that all the sacred moments of depth and connection make life worth living. Deep inside, you already know it, since tasting sacredness is facing death. And, facing death is diving into the fullness of life.
 

It is there… in the touch of a lover, the song of a bird, the smile of a child, the trembling of a leaf, the purring of a cat. Omnipresent in the simplicity of life, patiently waiting for you, sending you secret messages in every little moment. Your destiny is to experience it constantly. Your life is meant to be sacred.

Stillness
It is so delicate
Behind the clouds of the mind
there is an immense clarity
great softness
lost innocence
a wonderland vibrating with Life

People are looking for life
in gatherings, multiplication, and noise
in “more and more,”
But the Heart of Life
is in deep silence
in “less and less”

Where thoughts end
unspoken beauty begins

 
 
Beata is a Hridaya Yoga teacher who has participated in two 49-Day Prathyabhijna Retreats. She is also a frequent contributor to our blog. You can read all her posts here.

I’m just out of 40 days of meditation retreat in solitude and in complete darkness. I’m usually not a big fan of sharing spiritual experiences online but the fact that so many people have been asking me how it was, and that I struggled to find information online about long dark retreats before mine, decided me to write what is shareable about it.

Twenty Questions and Answers about Meditation Practice

  1. What is meditation?

Meditation is a practice that many people enjoy all over the world, in many different cultures and traditions. It is an ancient and simple practice that usually involves sitting down with the eyes closed, then finding a way to quiet the mind, in order to open to a deep sense of peace or to God. The mind is always talking to us, with ideas or worries about the future, comments about events in the past, judgements about ourselves and others (“I am not good enough,” “What does he think of me?,” etc), and many other thoughts about food, our partner, the objects we own, and our lives. By sitting down quietly and practicing meditation, we can first of all learn to watch these thoughts without getting caught up in them, and secondly begin to enjoy the silence between the thoughts, where there is great peace, even as our busy lives continue. People who practice meditation, even just for ten minutes each day, often find themselves becoming calmer, more relaxed, and less reactive to the stresses that daily life can bring. Eventually meditation brings people closer to God, or to a sense of a Higher Self within, a sense that we are more than just the body, the mind and the personality that we call “me.”

  1. Where does meditation come from?

Meditation is a practice that is found in many different traditions around the world. It is practiced in different ways in Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism and Islam, yet there need not be any particular religious connotation attached to simply sitting in silence on one’s own and finding inner peace. People from nearly every country practice meditation in one way or another, while the most common techniques for quieting the mind and settling into stillness come from Tibetan, Theravada and Zen Buddhism and also from the Hindu traditions of India.  

  1. Do I have to learn meditation from a teacher or a class?

There is no need to learn meditation from a teacher, or to attend a class, but it is highly recommended to do so in the beginning. A teacher or experienced meditator will be able to guide you through some of the issues or frustrations you may face when you begin to practice. Meditating in a group can be a great start if you are just learning to meditate, as sitting with other people who are determined also to keep their eyes closed and be quiet can be encouraging and supportive.

  1. What are the benefits of meditation?

Meditation has many benefits on different levels. On the physical level, it is found that people who practice meditation have a stronger immune system and a lower heart rate, an improved mental concentration and more awareness of their body. On an emotional level, with long-term meditation practice there is a greater sense of empathy, compassion and gratitude for others, a greater calmness and an enhanced openness to life. People who practice meditation find that they handle the many situations that life brings with a lot more calmness than before, as they have learnt not to listen constantly to their minds and the reactions of other people around them.  

  1. Is meditation a religious practice?

While meditation is not a specifically religious practice, it is something that is practiced as a part of many different religions. There is nothing necessarily religious about sitting in silence and calming the mind down to find peace.

PRACTICAL DETAILS ABOUT MEDITATION:  

  1. How should I sit?

There are many different postures to sit in while meditating. Most important is to find a posture that is comfortable for you, so that you don’t need to pay attention to the body. Sitting in a crossed legged position or on your knees on the floor is most common, but if that is not comfortable for you, try sitting on a chair or the edge of your bed. Using cushions to keep the pelvis tilted forward is helpful, and it is important to always sit in a position where the spine can be kept straight, the head looking forward.  

  1. Where should I put my hands?

Just like there are many positions for sitting, there are also many different positions for your hands. You may find it most comfortable to rest your hands on your knees, with the palms facing either up or down, or to try one of the many classical mudras (hand positions) that can be found in books. The hand position that the Buddha used is popular and relaxing – it is called dhyana mudra (the hand position for meditation). It is done by placing the right hand on top of the left hand with the palms facing upwards and the tips of the thumbs touching. Both hands then rest on your lap. Experiment to find the most comfortable hand position for you and try to stick to it whenever you meditate.  

  1. Why do I close my eyes?

Not all traditions require practitioners to have their eyes closed during meditation, but if you are just learning, it can help. By closing the eyes, we close our senses off to the distractions around us. We begin to internalise, to shift our awareness from the external world to the internal one – thoughts, emotions, sensations in the physical body, and sense of the present moment.  

  1. How long should I meditate?

How long you practice meditation depends on you and your willingness. To feel some of the more simple effects that meditation can bring, it is recommended to meditate at least twenty minutes per day, however for many people this is not enough! Once you begin to experience the real peace that meditation can bring, you may find yourself setting aside one or two hours each day for your meditation practice. Start small at the beginning and allow yourself to build up to longer and longer sessions over time, or take regular short breaks and come back again to the practice (for example, meditate for twenty minutes, take a three minutes break to open your eyes and perhaps change your body position, meditate again for twenty minutes and so on up to one hour).  

  1. If I have pain in my body during meditation, what can I do?

It is very normal to feel pain in your body when you first begin to meditate. We are not generally accustomed to sitting with a straight spine and staying still for any length of time. It is no problem to simply take a break and stretch your body if you need to, or try beginning with some warm up stretches to loosen the body before you sit down. You may find that your legs go numb, your back or chest aches, your shoulder or your hips are hurting – this is normal for every meditator at the beginning, and with time, and patience, this pain will gradually become less and less, and eventually disappear. Try not to focus all your attention on the painful points and try to sit through the discomfort a little longer each day before taking a break. Don’t be worried about this, with time your body will adjust to your new practice, just like learning any new skill with the physical body.    

  1. When is the best time to meditate?

Every person will have a different feeling about when is the best time to sit and meditate each day. For some, the freshness and clarity that the early morning brings is the best moment to sit and find peace. Others prefer to meditate in the evenings, just before making dinner, or before going to bed, when the house is quiet and they can slow down after a busy day. And of course, all of the times in between! Allow yourself to experiment a little until you find the time that feels right for you, and then try to stick to it. Having a regular routine can help you to keep your commitment to meditate every day.  

  1. Where should I meditate?

Find a place in your house or garden, or even in a quiet park or forest near to where you live, where you can sit alone and undisturbed for some time. Make sure that there is a good flow of fresh air and, if possible, avoid noisy distractions, such as traffic or people talking nearby. Make sure that you have everything you need – cushions, a blanket to sit on, things to keep warm – readily available in your selected place; although you can also meditate spontaneously of course whenever you feel inspired, without anything at all. If you have a space in your house that you can dedicate to be your meditation space permanently, you may even like to place a candle there, or a picture of something or someone that helps you to feel relaxed and peaceful, or something inspiring to take your meditation practice deeper.  

  1. What will it cost me to meditate?

It costs nothing to meditate! Of course you can pay to take a class or a course or a meditation retreat, but you don’t need to make any major investment to simply sit and find peace and stillness inside.  

Stillness Meditation

MEDITATION PRACTICE:

  1. What can I expect to feel when I sit to meditate?

The best thing you can do when beginning your meditation practice is to let go of all expectations. Once you are sitting with an open mind, you may find yourself feeling many different things – from joy and gratitude, to peacefulness and relaxation; from frustration and anxiety, to creativity and openness – depending on the day, on your state of mind, and on your willingness to really practice observing the body and the mind until a background of stillness is found, no matter what continues to happen externally or internally.  

  1. How can I make my mind quiet?

There are many techniques for quietening the mind and finding peace. Here are a few simple ones that you can use each day. Eventually you can let go of any techniques, as you start to touch a sense of inner peace almost immediately after closing your eyes.

  • Observe the breath. This is recommended by many traditions in which meditation is practiced – simply concentrate on the inhalations, the exhalations, the moments of pause between each breath, the rhythm of the breath. This technique is simple, very relaxing and brings an immediate sense of calmness and awareness.
  • Count the breath in cycles of seven. Count each inhalation and exhalation as one, then two, three and so on up to seven, and when you reach seven return to one and start counting now to fourteen, then to twenty one and so on. If you forget which number you are up to or you count too far, come back to counting from just one to seven again and start over. Learn to discipline your mind and keep it focused on one thing only – the number of breaths that arise and fall.
  • Try watching your thoughts like cars on the street. You don’t need to pay attention to every car that passes – it’s colour, make and model – rather you can just allow them to drive by while you are aware that they are there. Try to do the same with your thoughts, allow them to pass by, without paying any interest in their content or where they come from. Just allow them to come and go, come and go, and remain as the impartial observer of them all.
  • Choose an object of concentration. Try to focus the mind on one thing only – this could be the breath, the counting technique, an image of something or someone you find inspiring (Jesus or Buddha for example, or a waterfall), or a concept that brings you a sense of expansion, such as “compassion” or “infinity.” Bring the awareness back to your object of concentration again and again whenever you are distracted by thoughts.
  • Treat the mind like a small child. Once you have chosen your object of concentration, you may find yourself sticking to it well for several minutes, and then becoming distracted or lost in a mental story, memory or plan. Rather than punishing yourself or feeling terrible, have compassion for yourself and imagine that your mind is in fact just a small child. Children have difficulty concentrating on one thing for very long, so does your mind. Just give it love and guide it gently back to your object of concentration and ask it to try again. Children, like your mind, eventually mature and can soon concentrate for longer and longer times without distraction.
  • Ask yourself “Who Am I?” – beyond my body, my mind, my memories, my personality… who am I? Ask this question and then rest in the silence and mystery that follows.    
  1. What should I do when I close my eyes?

First make sure that your spine is straight, that your body is relaxed and that you are comfortable. Allow yourself to take a few deep breaths, trying to let go of anything you may be holding onto, allowing yourself to come fully into the present moment. Then try to stay in that present moment. Follow some of the simple techniques mentioned above for quietening the mind, although realise that it may not feel like much is “happening” in the beginning. Many people are genuinely frightened when they sit quietly and watch the mind, for they finally see how busy and active the mind really is – moving from one thought to the next, jumping quickly into judgements and doubts and memories and plans – this is in fact what the mind is always doing, we are just often so distracted by other things that we don’t notice it. Try to remain the observer of this wild mental activity, without judging it or getting involved in any stories the mind is telling you. Hold the meditation for as long as you told yourself you would, or until you naturally feel it is time for it to dissolve, and when you open your eyes, allow a short time of just sitting still before you get up, to feel the effects of the meditation, or to ground yourself in the peace that you have found so that you can carry it into all of the activities that are to come afterwards.  

  1. How can I tell if I am making progress?

Your progress in meditation will be measured by a shift in your attitudes in daily life. You can start to witness the effects of your practice by observing how peace and joy have suddenly become normal states, replacing fear, doubt and anxiety. In the meditation itself, you may begin to notice that you are able to observe your thoughts and sensations without getting involved, more and more each day. You may begin to feel more joy and passion for sitting down to practice, and you may enter into states of pure happiness and gratitude more quickly. There is no “ruler” for measuring progress in meditation, as each person’s path is completely their own, and the effects of meditation can only be felt subjectively. However, try to notice the integration of peaceful states into your life; this is a good sign that your practice is beginning to bear fruit.  

  1. How can I go deeper with my meditation?

After some time of short meditations and trying various techniques, you may have touched something inside that you cannot explain. A kind of deep peace, a kind of knowing, or a sense of a greater reality than the reality we call daily life. You may wish to take your practice deeper, or to seek advice from a teacher or a master of meditation about how you can go further into this sense of peace. It would be excellent at this point to find a teacher who you can trust (if you haven’t already) and to share some of your experiences and ask the questions that have by now no doubt arisen. Try attending a meditation retreat, where you will meditate for most or all of the day with a group. A retreat is also a great place to meet others who you can share with, and is a space that is created and held exactly for taking your practice to new levels. Most of all, cultivate determination and perseverance. Try to commit to a consistent practice every day for one month. Try to extend the time of your practice each day or each week. And most importantly, begin to integrate your understandings found through meditation into your daily life, remaining the observer of every thought and action, and allowing that deep peace to be the background of all activity in life.  

  1. Where will meditation take me?

Any consistent practice of meditation will bring significant changes to your life. How much change you are willing to allow depends on you. It will at the least bring a greater openness to life, more calmness and less reactivity to the unexpected ups and downs that life brings. It may also take you on a deep journey into yourself, as you discover a reality that is deeper than any you have known before. It may take you on a path of devotion to God, or to mankind. It can take you as far as enlightenment, in which you no longer identify yourself with being only a body and a personality, but with being the peaceful-loving source of all things. It is up to you how far you want meditation to take you, you create the path.

  1. What can I do to learn more about meditation?

To learn more about meditation in general, or different practices and techniques, there are many options available. There are many fantastic books written by and about masters of meditation from all across the world, and there are many current masters and teachers who offer regular retreats or lectures online or from their hometowns. Look for various courses and talks offered on meditation near to where you live, or try to connect with communities of other meditators, to share experiences and advice. So long as the passion is there, keep seeking, keep exploring, keep practicing and continue to integrate the gifts that arise from your meditation – gratitude, peace, calmness, love, joy, openness, and so much more – into every aspect of your life.

Written by Emma Carruthers, The Hermitage Retreat Centre, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala, June 2015

Hridaya Yoga TTC

By Ian Marshall

Weeeaaooohhhh… What a ride… The Hridaya Teacher Training Course was more than I ever dreamt. A three-month investigation into the witness consciousness, the question “Who am I?” and an invitation into love, community, introspection and learning.

The day before our graduation we had a sharing circle. Each one of the 30 TTCers brought something to the group as a way of expressing gratitude for the experience and became profoundly moving as each new person offered up a fresh perspective.

It lasted for 9 hours.

From songs and invitations to dance to individual stories of difficult times mixed in with deep stillness and tears, it was the culmination of a journey which we had all been undertaking in our own different ways.

I’ve thought about how to write about an experience which lives with me every day, which I still haven’t really been able to even begin to process and which is the culmination of a journey I’ve been on for a few years and a profound catalyst for change at the same time.

I discovered Agama first, in Thailand, and after studying tantra with them it wasn’t until Rishikesh that I took Level 1 and was introduced to the Hridaya style of meditation. It resonated with me immediately as the teachings of Ramana Maharshi and my time in Tiruvannamalai with Mooji had been an important part of my journey. So I went back to Thailand for my first Hridaya retreat with Sahajananda and was immediately hooked. I would have signed up for the TTC straight away if it had been possible but it was a year later that I finally made it out to Mazunte.

Each day on the TTC was an adventure with new stuff coming up and fresh challenges to be faced. We meditated a lot.

We listened to lectures about yoga philosophy, meditation practices and brain waves.

We learnt about Samadhi, the supreme state in meditation where subject and object merge into one, and how it has many forms. I attained none of them but at least one of our group did, the mystery remains.

We studied the body with a series of multi-media anatomy lectures that engaged and entertained.

We practised nauli kriya daily. For ages.

We suffered the anxiety of the first practicum. We enjoyed the elation of the second practicum. We learnt just to be during the third practicum.

We stared at the sun and allowed the blind spot in our vision to be a focus of meditation. Meditate on light, go into the light, become the light that you are, reflect on the many ways of accessing this, from staring at the horizon to looking from the corner of the eye.

We had a turn with the Brain Machine, a set of goggles and headphones that transmits a series of LED flashes and pulse sounds into your head. I felt like I’d been attacked the first time I tried it.

We practised voluntary hibernation, I liked that one a lot.

We had two ten day silent retreats and one 48 hour stretch in the dark room.

I was among the first in the dark and it came at a good time. I was feeling exhausted from everything but as soon as I turned off the light it felt like being enveloped in a blanket of darkness and I absolutely loved it. It lead me to deep states of meditation, a feeling of disconnection from the body and I emerged completely re-energised. I spent some time lying on my bed in a state of nearly sleeping and nearly waking feeling myself drift in and out of the dream state. When I was dreaming it was vivid and bright and lucid and on awaking the flower of life image lasered its way into the darkness.

The first 10 day retreat couldn’t come too soon. I was overwhelmed with material and looking for some time to cogitate on the content. It turned out frustrating, though, as deep moments for me were rare. There was no lack of drama as massive storms rolled in, tents washed away and the boom of thunder during a dark afternoon meditation coupled with an outburst and screaming as things got too much for one.

Before the second retreat I started the Ohsawa 10 day brown rice diet and up until the first day of silence things were improving. Focus, practice and meditation were all becoming more natural and although whole wheat chapatis meant I wasn’t solely eating rice, it felt like a good discipline.

The first day of retreat saw an attack of diarrhea and I struggled to eat even the small amount of rice I’d served myself. An attitude of disconnecting from food became the opposite as I spent my whole time thinking about how I could dam the flow and gain some strength. After barely eating for three days, and completely fasting for one, as soon as I started eating the “normal” food I got better. The amaranth and papaya breakfast was my favourite thing in the world that morning. The day I fasted was great, I practised asanas during the lecture and went full on into a strong practice but the day after left me even weaker than ever and I had to leave the hatha class to vomit. Powerful purifications there.

While my retreat experience might not have been what I had dreamt, each week we would have kirtan or devotional singing and it was during these beautiful events that I found myself going deeper inside, to a state of profound bliss and connection.

I love being in nature, although I realised I’m not as in touch with my hippie side as I thought after meeting some of the free spirits at the school.

We went to see the turtles hatching one evening and spent a couple of nights camping by some waterfalls in an amazing part of the Mexican countryside. After swimming in the falls, hugging giant trees and having an all night bhajan party a tired but happy group of yogis raided the Oxxo store on the way back into civilisation for ice cream and crisps, a far cry from the yogic diet but food for the soul, I like to think.

It wasn’t all fun and games though and when the serious business of exams came around there was a flurry of activity as people tried to study. Small revision groups in the kitchen definitely did me a world of good, as did some excellent work producing professional notes that some yogis found the time to manifest. At the end of the day, the exams weren’t really what the course was about. There is no marking system involved in attaining connection with the divine self and having a lot of book knowledge does not necessarily produce a teacher who can transmit. Still, I somehow found myself getting 100% in the last exam, which my little ego was kind of happy about!

During the course, as I tried to move away from the personal ego and worldly concerns, I found myself drawn into a confusing triangle of relationships which was distracting but ultimately rewarding. While we follow a path that leads directly inside to the highest truth of our being this is still a tantric school after all, and relationship remains of utmost importance. I’m still learning how best to share my love and knowledge with the world and allowing the stillness to blossom from deep within me but I know that I have all the skills at my disposal now.

Hridaya Yoga TTC

Our graduation was a beautiful and typically drawn out affair. All dressed in white we collected our certificates and received our prasad before it was time for our host to lead us through a group of performances ranging from the truly sublime to the truly ridiculous, touching on comedic genius and virtuoso performance as it progressed. The mystery of the English nanny was revealed, but alas not the mystery of the samadhi. We had powerful belly dancing, peaceful tai chi, fiery flamenco and interesting interpretative dance mixed in with the rapping, comedy skits, singer-songwriters and group performance of Tender. Our hearts were full of rainbows and we were all so busy sharing that things again went on late enough that the DJ went home and the after party ended up with table dancing in the kitchen.

It was blissful exuberance, a pure expression of spanda, released after an intense three months, a far cry from “Maple leaf, falling down, showing front, showing back” but no less centered in the Heart and representative of what this school is trying to achieve.

Follow Ian here.

 

New Dimensions of the Practice. Notes and Observations:

  1. Liking the practice:
  • This daily repeated exercise increased my “liking” of the practice to the point that I wish it could last longer.
  • I feel that the number of minutes I reached are not enough for me anymore. I “crave” the practice every morning and I look forward to see the sun rising the next day.

 

  1. Eyes activation in the daily life:
  • My Eyes activation lasts for a long time during the entire day following the practice.
  • Sometimes, during normal daily activities, I feel my eyes just suddenly becoming energised and vibrating, the energy field in the entire area around my eyes becomes expanded and my gaze becomes somehow shifted from the physical world.
  • It becomes temporary difficult to read anything in those moments, and the physical objects look blurred. I have to keep a de-focalised gaze and let my vision field expand.
  • Ajna Chakra is spontaneously activated and vibrating in the same time.

 

  1. Hrid Mudra:
  • I had a spontaneous urge to bring my hands in Hrid Mudra. It felt like inner guidance or some message from the divine consciousness about something I have “next to do”.
  • The practice in this new way felt very good and powerful.
  • The pranic circuit from my hands to the heart area becomes immediately obvious, perceivable and very comforting. I will continue this way for the next weeks.
  • It certainly helps releasing an affective trauma in emotional crisis. Generalised feeling of well-being. Strong activation of Anahata Chakra.
  • The feeling of well-being becomes so strong that it makes me wish to come back to the practice the next day. I long for it during the day.

 

  1. Anjali Mudra:
  • Moving on to Anjali Mudra makes a fine transition from the feeling of well-being and inner emotional comfort to a more meditative state.
  • Keeping centeredness is easy, I completely withdraw from the external world.
  • I find my way “inward” and I continue my gazing practice witnessing the perceptions, both visionary and emotional, from my heart center.
  • I continue the practice alternating Hrid Mudra and Anjali Mudra.

 

  1. Prarthanasana (Prayer Pose):
  • In the last few days of the 3rd month of my Tapas I experiment with the practice standing in Prarthanasana.
  • It is a familiar and confortable pose for me, so I can keep it for a long time while continuing my sun gazing practice with calmness and aspiration, without tension and in complete surrender.
  • I find profound relaxation in that pose, the breath pattern settles in naturally. I try to keep some rhythmic breathing flowing naturally.
  • I keep the awareness of the Heart Center and I continue blowing upon the amber of the heart during the practice.
  • I settle in the Natural State with reverence and devotion.
  • I have the feeling that I am seeking for something precious that is above and beyond ourselves as limited individuals and it will be revealed to me when I am mostly prepared to see.
  • I am certainly seeking for answers and guidance in my path to follow.

I am seeking for directions and a new way in my spiritual quest for bringing the Absolute Truth to the world and liberation to all beings.

  • I am open to welcome anything that may be revealed to me – any inspiration, insights, visions and revelations from the divine consciousness about the physical world and all subtle dimensions.
  • I am maintaining a state of fearlessness to anything I may perceive, non-judgement, non-discrimination, non-prejudice, while gazing and praying in open attention, humbleness and witness attitude.

I find the “gift of grace”.  State of amazing grace in stillness and naturalness.

 

  1. Post-practice:
  • I continue with Phosphene work and inner Trataka, followed by Ajna-focused meditation after the sun gazing practice.

Note: I aim to increase the length of the practice in both the Sun Gazing and Prarthanasana combined in the several months to follow.

 

New Dimensions of the Practice. Notes and Observations:

 

Note: While progressing with the tapas and deepening its effects, new dimensions for the practice are inspired to me by the practice itself.  I include the new methods along with the inspiration, and the daily exercise becomes richer, more profound, allowing the direct revelation of the deeper effects such complex tapas can bring.    I also become more aware of the inspiration and divine grace that guide my daily life.         

Sun gazing

 

  1. “Absorbing” the Light through the Eyes:
  • While keeping the state of relaxation, I mentalize that I “absorb” the Light through the Eyes —> I guide it downward towards the Heart —> I fill the Heart with the Light of the Sun;
  • I feel the warm sensation in the Heart, sometimes even hot and glowing.
  1. Combining Sun Gazing with Breathing practice:
  • I “Breath-in” the Light with every breath: I start breathing in and out with awareness, feeling how I “inhale” the Light into my Eyes with every breath, and I guide it toward the Heart;
  • I briefly practice the “Blowing Upon the Amber” technique to fully activate my Heart Center;
  • I then combine the 2 exercises, such way that the “Breathing-in of the Light into the Eyes” continues with “Blowing the Light into the Heart”, with every breath;
  • When the practice becomes comfortable, I establish the Rhythmic Breathing. Chosen Pattern:  4,2,4 à 8,4,8  à 8,8,8,2 à 8,8,4
  • I keep the Awareness on the Heart Center, and on “Breathing-in the Light into my Eyes, then flowing it into the Heart”, to fill the Heart;

Note: The Kati Channel becomes better defined, warmer, more perceivable, more and more active and energised. 

  1. Connection with the Inner Ear:
  • I gradually start feeling a connection with the Inner Ear on both sides;
  • My Inner Ears become highly activated;
  • Some energy channels related to the Inner Ears converge with the Eyes Channel in the throat area, and then go into the Heart Center.
  1. Throat area becomes dominant:
  • My entire throat area is now very activated, energised, dilated and vibrating; it becomes the dominant area of the practice-results;
  • It feels like it is a Gateway or a hub for all the energy channels;

 

Note: This strong sensation of energy, vibration and dilation in the throat area may be related to my natural dominant Vishudha Chakra activation, and the fact that my daily morning Yoga practice is highly focused on Vishudha Chakra; or, it may be just the effect of the convergence of the energy channels – simultaneously activated.

 

  1. Back of the head, Cerebellum activation:
  • The feeling of energizing and dilation extends toward the back of the head, bringing a new focus. I clearly feel my Cerebellum activation
  1. Whole head activation, energy field expansion
  1. The entire area of the head, neck, shoulders, chest and upper-back feel ethereal now – expanded, energised, and vibrating.

 

Hridaya Sungazing

Looking forward for whatever comes next !

 

 

 

 

 

9 Months Timeline

 Start Day: January 7th, 2015

Introduction:

The Sun Gazing Tapas consists of the committed daily practice of gazing at the Sun every morning during the first hour after Sunrise, starting with 10 seconds of practice and adding 10 seconds every day.

The Tapas is set for a timeframe of 9 months during which the practice will reach the maximum duration of a 45 minutes Sun Gazing session. The Tapas Journal will follow the 9 month timeline of the Tapas, presenting a review of the most relevant effects, practical observations, subtle impressions, and personal hypothesis, at the end of every month of the Tapas.

 

Personal Circumstances at the Beginning of the Tapas:

It is important to describe the mind and emotional frame at the start of the practice, as well as the most relevant aspects of the daily routine that may influence, or may be influenced by the tapas practice in an impactful way.

 

Daily routine:

Personal Yoga practice: 4:00 am – 7:00 am

Sun Gazing: during 7:00 am – 8:00 am interval (Florida time)

Phosphene work (closing the eyes at the end of gazing)

Short Ajna Meditation following the Sun Gazing practice (I wish I could keep this meditation for longer, but that is impossible becauseit is the time when I have to get my child ready for school)

Hridaya Meditation:

9:00 – 10:00 am Florida time (8:00 – 9:00 am Mazunte time)

Tai Chi and Qigong: at any available times during the day.

 

Mind and Emotional State: I started the tapas while undergoing a rather difficult recovery time from severe distress, suffering and emotional turbulence, that  had affected both my level of serenity and emotional balance. I kept the intention to live with an open–‐heart, therefore I was determined to not allow my heart to close. I started the tapas as part of a larger and more complex personal practice I had chosen for myself with the goal of regaining my tranquillity, peace and emotional balance, as well as for re-establishing the level of mind clarity that allows the revelation of truth, intuitive answers, deeper levels of understanding and awareness, and allowing inner guidance to replace fears and outer influences. Therefore, on one hand my state of mind was not optimal for the practice, but on the other hand it was an interesting goal to observe how such inner background of sadness could evolve during the entire timeline of the tapas. However, discerning mindfulness is necessary in assessing the influences of all aspects of my practice on this evolution.

Diet and Nutrition:

Fully vegetarian (almost vegan) nutrition, with many restrictions due to food sensitivities and allergies (e.g., gluten free, casein free, egg free diet, etc.).

Wishing to reach the point where physical food is not necessary any longer. No coffee consumption, no alcohol and no drugs.

 

sunset sungazing

Month 1

Notes and Observations:

  •  I practiced the Sun Gazing technique at different times during the 7:00– 8:00 am interval, Florida time, experimenting with different levels of intensity of sun luminosity and brightness. Florida sun can be very powerful in January even during the first hour after the sunrise. At the end of the 1h interval, in days with clear sky, it becomes impossible to look straight into the sun even for 10 seconds. I noticed that the Sun Gazing effects were more powerful when gazing at the brightest sun (towards the end of the interval), but my mind and body were less relaxed and therefore I could not keep the peaceful state till the end of the gazing practice; when I practiced the technique at the beginning of the interval, I could sit in complete relaxation and I could feel the prana and the energy resonance much better and with much, longer echoes. Also, when the sky was occasionally cloudy and the clouds completely covered the sun,I continued the practice and I could feel the prana anyway, although I could not visually see the sun.
  •  It was obviously a great Trataka and Taraka Yoga practice.

While progressing with the gazing and getting used to the luminosity and brightness of the sun, I could keep my eyes open and not blinking for longer; after the first 3 weeks, I had no more tears during the practice.

  •  After the first few days of the tapas, after getting used to the gazing routine, I started to integrate “Centering on the Spiritual Heart” during the gazing time. Later, this centering on the heart started to happen naturally. After one month of the tapas, my Heart Centre becomes warm and energized within the first couple of minutes of the combined “gazing and centering” practice, I feel the loving sensation and the vibration becoming stronger and stronger in a very natural way.
  • I feel the direct connection between my eyes (focusing on the Sun) and my Heart Centre, like a channel or a cord that links them together. It feels warm, energized and active. May it be the activation of Kati channel?
  •  Simultaneous activation of Ajna, Sahashrara, and Anahata Chakras, plus well centering in the Spiritual Heart during most of the tapas sessions, as long as I keep  the state of relaxation and surrendering.
  •  At the end of the first month, I felt I had recovered my state of clear mind and I progressed substantially toward balancing my emotions. I have  gained access to the understanding and truth I was looking for, and I received the answers to most of my questions. I am still pursuing the goal of regaining complete tranquility and peace, and to progress toward equanimity. I usually feel a direct connection and straightforward result:

 

Mind clarity – Emotional balance Note:

Considering that I practice the Sun Gazing daily morning tapas in combination with the Hridaya meditation routine, I could not tell for sure which of these practices helped my emotional balancing more. Also, Ajna Meditation following right after the gazing session made the state of clarity become deeper and more stable and last longer throughout the day.

  •  While these are personal observations and hypotheses, I will continue to note the effects and wait for more insights and inner guidance in the following months.

Meditation

What is all this love and all this laughter? It’s the joyous sound of a soul waking up.”

~ Hafiz

The Sanskrit root of yoga yuj means to “yoke,” “bind,” or “join together” and also indicates “union” or “oneness.”

At the deepest spiritual level, yoga allows us to reveal the Self, the True Essence of our Being. Ultimately it is the means by which we realize that there is no separation between anyone or anything – everything is One.

Defining yoga in an all-encompassing way can be challenging. There are so many distinct and overlapping aspects, layers, branches, and nuances within the vastness of yoga and a single definition inherently creates limitation.

 

Misconceptions about yoga

For many in the West, yoga is equivalent to asana practice known as Hatha Yoga, the practice of physical postures. The quintessential image of yoga is a beautiful young woman doing some impossible-looking pretzel-like position. While physical postures are indeed a part of yoga and they do improve one’s health, they are only a very small p>what yoga is.

IMG_6056 (800x533)

Yoga has powerful “secondary” benefits that can bring about change in one’s life on a more practical level. These include:

  • Better physical health
  • A calmer mind
  • Increased sensitivity to energy
  • An enhanced ability to embrace and detach from difficult emotions
  • More harmonious relationships
  • More compassion
  • A greater sense of meaning and purpose

Also, pure intention and focused awareness are integral to the practice of asanas and what set yoga apart from other forms of physical exercise. Yoga is an empirical science and a philosophy aimed at understanding life’s most important questions.

And yet the real essence of yoga is about transcending all limitations.

Just as the wave is never separate from the ocean, we are all individual expressions of the Divine. This tenet of yoga is known as advaita or non-dualism and is the core of the Hridaya yoga philosophy.