I Don’t Know What to Believe – My Purpose

For me staying on my purpose was and is a process. I used Rod Stryker’s book the four desires to build my soul dharma code. As I did this process, I included my therapist to guide me; they served as an impartial guide to the process.

Dharma is a Sanskrit word that means custom or my purpose it has been spoken since the 1800’s and picked up in popularity in from the 50’s and on. We each hold many dharmas’s. We have dharmas as daughters, wives, friends, mothers, business owners, aunts and so on. We also were each born with a dharma which is our soul dharma that we are here to fulfill you may even think of it as your legacy that you may leave behind.

All the problems we experience during daily life originate in ignorance, and the method for eliminating ignorance is to practice Dharma.” –Anonymous

When we live our dharma, it is a method for improving the quality of our human life. The quality of life depends not upon external things or material attachments but the inner development of peace, self, and happiness. Without discovering your inner peace outer peace is impossible. The key is to always work on the self. I had a client tell me a story that when we point the finger at someone else in judgment remember that there are always three fingers pointing back at you. If we first establish peace within our mind, body and spirit outer peace will come naturally. If we do not do our work on our self-growth than world peace will never come no matter how many people campaign for it.

You have a purpose in life and unique gift that is special and needed in our world. Are you living it? When was the last time that you gave it some thought? I have turned my soul dharma code into a piece of art, and I look at it often especially when I have a decision weighing on my mind. I read my soul dharma code, and then I ask which option will help the most people.

Here is a tip to start today:

  • Make a list of your unique talents. Then create another column on the ways you love to express your unique talents in service of humanity.
  • Ask yourself each morning- How can I serve humanity with love? How can I help?
  • Sent an intention- to lovingly nurture your soul dharma. Pay attention to that quietest voice within you as you awaken to your stillness of the heart vs. the thinking mind only. I will carry the consciousness of my heart in the midst of this time-bound intellectual experience.

Kim’s Soul Dharma Code:

I live creatively! I play often! My life and work are filled with love that moves people to heal; I am light in a dark world. I am centered, adventurous and courageous so the joy of integrative sustainable movement can grow.

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Understanding Health and Disease through Yoga Concepts I

 I will discuss the meaning of these six concepts: Nature of Self, Dharma, Path of Yoga, Causes of Suffering, Samskaras, and Kleshas. I will explain these concepts concerning these classical yoga texts: The Bhagavad Gita (written about 1795 C.E.), The Yoga Sutras (written about 400 C.E.), The Samkhya Karika (written about 2500 B.C.E.), and the Upanishads (written about 800-300 B.C.E.). I will share how these concepts are present in my life. You will also learn how these concepts relate to the understanding of health and disease.

            Nature of Self in the west, we think of as a person’s particular personality, the qualities that make them unique. The Upanishads refer to this as Atman “the self”, and they distinguish it from the individual character. The Upanishads are known as their equation “the Self is Brahman” pointing to the unity of pure consciousness. Upanishads means “secret teaching” and is the beginning of profound conjectural thought. Who Am I? The real self is unchanging, so it continues throughout all process of change. It cannot be the physical body because the body changes throughout our life and dies.  It cannot be the mind because it is always evolving. It cannot be social identity and the roles it plays. No, consciousness itself is subjective, experiential, and seamless, it lacks distinctions and boundaries, not subject to change, have no ending or beginning; it is the one true self.  All creatures are the same, and it is not an object. In the west we focus on the objective and disregard the subjective or physical and mental – we view them as separate systems. In the east body/ mind are seen as an integrated system that includes the senses (hearing, touching, seeing, tasting, smelling), perceptions, thoughts, organs of actions (speaking, grasping, walking, excreting, procreating). The pure self (the unchanging self) is Atman, eternal and indestructible. How do we get to know this person?  We seek to understand it through self-study and pure awareness, the unified power underlying all things, our universal self – known as Brahman. Therefore, you might ask what the relationship between Atman and Brahman is. Upanishads say they are identical that the self at the core of existence, pure consciousness is the very ground of the universe itself – in the west we mistake this as “I Am God.” The world spun out of Brahman – the human soul is Brahman. (Easwaran, 2007)

 Sankhya Karika views the nature of self as spirit. Sankhya means the number or perfect knowledge, considered as a realistic theory, and represents the method. Yoga represents the application or the practical aspects. It looks at the nature of self as a dualistic Prakriti and Purusha. Prakriti is the first and ultimate cause of all gross and subtle objects. The non-self has the three gunas: Sattva (happiness, pure, light, brightness, and essence), Rajas (action, motion, objects, restlessness, pain, dust) and Tamas (ignorance, inaction, coarseness, negligence, indifference, insensitivity, darkness). Prakriti is not produced but has an inherent nature to create matter. Purusha is the material cause of Prakriti. Purusha is the supreme spirit (neither produced nor produces), it is the transcendental self non-attributive consciousness. A person or Purusha are unchangeable, inactive, conscious entities that gain something from contact with nature. (Miller, 2012)

The Yoga Sutra views the nature of self as the seer (1.3). Self-realization transcends the mind.  We experience pure consciousness. We are separate from the Prakriti (seen) and Purusha (seer).  Asmita is false identification.  We confuse the nature of the seer or self with the nature of perception. It is when we mistake the mind, body or senses for the real self. When we identify with parts of the self that change instead of the quiet place within us, that does not alter we are practicing Asmita. Who we are at our core is unchanging. Known as the seer or purusha who sees the world through the lens of the mind. The mind includes our thoughts, emotions, sensory input from our body and is the instrument of perception the seer uses to engage with the world around you. (Satchidananda, 2005)

            This concept is present in my life because I have experienced my body as a vehicle and my soul as a driver. When I had an accident, and my body did not work, I had to explore the consciousness as it spread through the body. As I laid in a hospital bed for months on end, I was given time to reflect on the respect for life, shared values, tolerance, patience, compassion for others. Who am I? What is my real identity? What is it that changes and what does not modify?  The nature of self-understood in the context of understanding health and disease by recognizing that when we identify too closely with the changeable aspects of our identity we create disease in our physical, emotional and spiritual bodies affecting the Anadamayakosha (bliss body). It affects our true self/purusa. It does not effect by our physical sensations, energetic fluctuations, mental and emotional upheavals or intuitive blockages. Meditation and Yoga nidra are tools that we can use to help balance this area.

The Bhagavad Gita lays out a four-path journey that we can follow toward self -realization.  The four paths are meditation (deeper states of awareness), knowledge (intellectual/ scriptural), action (practiced with total involvement and detachment from results) and devotion (divine in some form) (Satchidananda, 2005)

 Westerners do not seem to know the word Dharma, and it comes up very little in daily conversations. The Upanishads do not offer a single comprehensive system of thought, but they do provide a metaphysical scheme or principals such as samsara, karma, dharma, and moksha. Dharma is the truth, the universal principle of law, order and harmony, all those things and pure reality. You may see it written as right behavior or duty or social obligation or as a particular set of responsibilities performed tino the best of our abilities. There is no higher dharma than non-violence. (Easwaran, 2007)

 Samkhya Karika looks at Dharma as jiva, the individual soul influenced or functioning under an influence of dharma and Prakriti. They view dharma as a virtue. Virtue and vice are one of the eight pairs of disposition discussed. When we increase dharma we have sattva, however, we do not gain perfection and emancipation from practicing virtue or dharma. We gain a divine place in which to reside. (Bawra, 2012)

            If you do a quick google search, you might see dharma described as “that that upholds supports or maintains the regulatory order of the universe”. The Yoga Sutra’s (4.29) talk about dharma as our duty, righteousness, and moral obligations.  Our world is woven together by countless interdependent strands that make up our universal whole. Dharma is the original cosmic order that sustains this web.  Therefore, we should do our part and know in our daily life and public life if the help we are seeking is the right kind of help or not. (Satchidananda, 2005)

            Dharma is the first word in the Bhagavad Gita (3.35) when they come upon “the field of dharma” worrying that war will lead to a violation of dharma and permanent residence in hell. One’s duties must be performed for our dharma and not neglect it in the name of dharma. We cannot keep it to ourselves. We must protect the principals of dharma. Dharma is the “law of the universe”, “social and religious rules”, and our “own individual mission or purpose”. We cannot escape our dharma; we must fulfill it. Dharma is grounded in the proper use, and we cannot throw caution to the wind.  If we provide for others with whom we live amongst, we must still be mindful of the effects of our actions on those around us. In other words, you cannot leave the loved ones you support to go to perform Svadharma. Your individual duty comes naturally for you, and you can start making steps toward finding a balance.  Dharma also implies benefits to others.  There is no personal desire behind it. Svadharma can change over the years, but it flows smoothly, one into the other even without your knowledge or planning new things to come. (Satchidananda, 2005)

            Dharma is present in my life right now in a big way. I had an unplanned change that rocked my world that made me pause and question everything in my life.  Was I in disharmony and how? I have spent the last year getting down to the root of my soul’s dharma, my duty dharma as a daughter, sister, friend, wife, business owner, and mentor. I have developed a dharma code that helps me stay grounded in and to focus my energy. Here is my dharma code: I play often! I live creatively! My life and work are full of love that moves people to heal; I am light in a dark world. I am centered, adventurous, and courageous, so the joy of Integrative Sustainable Movement can grow. I ask myself how my Dharma can benefit the most people. I often play with my spouse and friends. I tend to my creative side through painting, art journaling, blowing glass. I play in nature with my dog, meditate at the beach and walk in the woods. I have a Seva practice for my business and myself. In teaching others about yoga principals and concepts and learning corrective exercise through mind/body modalities, I am serving the community in which I live, giving it meaning and purpose beyond a selfish existence, and it nourishes my soul daily. Dharma applied in the context of understanding health and disease.  Dharma interpreted as by living in disharmony with your dharma, you are starting a chain reaction of disharmony feeding out from your family to community, nation and universe in the physical, spiritual and emotional bodies. There is so much unhappiness in the world I cannot help but wonder if we learned to use the word dharma in our daily conversations, would there be more peace. Our western nation defines success as doing things individually. Westerners need to understand the aspect of the dharma of self-expression as someone who is primarily on a spiritual journey and the following truth ethically. If we do our work in Dharma in agreement with our greater good, we will support our families, our professions, our communities, our nations and the entire universe peacefully. Dharma is in line with the Manomayakosha (mental/ emotional body).  Our thoughts, feelings, opinions, judgments, memories, reactions and psychological disorders are affected at this kosha level. We have tools of Mudra, Yoga nidra, mindful practice, and journaling to assist in healing.

            The path of yoga: Karma (way of action), Jnana (way of knowledge), and Bhakti (way of devotion) from the Upanishads perspective they introduce Karma yoga (actions, deeds, words) as a principal of cause and effect based on the measures. The Upanishads also talk about the importance of doing good deeds from the perspective of Karmic Law (past lives and freedom). Jnana yoga of knowledge is unyielding in the Upanishads. The yoga of the philosopher liberates us from impurities of human existences, namely egoism, desire-ridden actions and illusions we are different from the rest of the world. In the Upanishads, they discuss Bhakti yoga of devotion as personal theism and the doctrine of grace – personal god choices; however, it is stronger in the Bhagavad Gita than the Upanishads. (Easwaran, 2007)

            Karma (2:11, 3:5, and 4:19) is one of the three paths to realization. It is part of nature Prakriti and the most active way to lead a spiritual life. In the Bhagavad Gita, Karma seems to be a law that functions by itself with no external control. One struggles alone against its drive to attain better incarnations from one existence to the next. Dharma and Karma is a pair of forces in everyone’s (anyone’s) life. Dharma/Duty and Karma/Global is the nature of Prakriti, the way the three gunas influence one’s mind under the effect of past Karma. Think of past Karma or lives like a card game… you need sound cards dealt on the first hand to play well and win (ninety- nine percent good karma one percent skill). We can only perform actions in harmony with dharma. (Satchidananda, 2005)

            Jnana (2:39, 3:3, and 13:24) consists of the mind, the body, the atman or self. Purification of the body and the mind through self-discipline, acquiring a genuine awareness of the world around the supreme self beyond the knowledge of Sat (Truth) and Asat (falsehood),  practicing various disciplines and other techniques as a means to self-purification and elevation and elimination of thought process. The Bhagavad Gita is most concerned with one’s attitude when performing social duties. The purpose Jnana achieved liberation by realizing our true nature, overcoming our ignorance, and transcending our limited selves are usually sense dependent and bound by karma. The benefits of practicing Jnana are equanimity of mind through control of the senses, desires and mental discipline, detachment, impassion, and sacrifice. Knowledge obtained through the study of scripture, contemplation, intuition, service to God and teachers, divine grace, discussion, teaching, observation, and personal spiritual experience. (Satchidananda, 2005)

            Bhakti (12:1-12:20) is the path of goodwill and talked about in chapter twelve of the Bhagavad Gita as love.  Innocence and pure intentions are the most powerful forces in a devotee’s spiritual life. With universal love, chanting and devotion, we can with love in the heart see beyond faults and judgments that often muddy our views of relationships with others and ourselves. Relationships that have gone sour rescued by returning to it with love in the heart. The Bhagavad Gita is divided into three parts and proclaims that these three sections are the teachings of Jnana, Karma and Bhakti respectively.  (Satchidananda, 2005)

            From this perspective, the Sutra Karma (II-2, IV-7) is performing actions as selfless service without attachment to the results. There are three kinds of actions white (good, useful), black (bad, not useful) and mixed (shades of gray). Buddhi discriminates between these. Our actions stem from the root impressions of Samskaras.

            Jnana (I-48, IV-19) is the yoga of self-inquiry, path of knowledge, wisdom, and introspection, deep exploration of nature, exploring and setting aside false identities.  Bhakti (I-23, II-45) is the path of devotion, emotion, love, compassion, service to others/God and all actions performed in context to the divine. It is important we do not avoid or abandon others while on this path. (Satchidananda, 2005)

            The Samkhya Karika perspective of Jnana refers to Samkhya (the school of philosophy). Karma represents the teachings of Patanjali, and he followed Samkhya as the most important.  Bhakti symbolizes Vedanta teachings/Vedavyasa, and he followed Patanjali. All three of these are part of Vaidika Darsanas. The Samkhya philosophy has Purusa (consciousness) it does not mutate and is conscious.  Prakriti (matter) mutates and is inert. These two, Purusa and Prakriti, are synergy and union of two and found in humans, animals, plants and microscopic organisms. Conciseness brings life to matter while matter provides consciousness a medium to exist within and discover its potential. (Miller, 2012)

            Jnana is “to connect” with the difference between Purusa and Prakriti.  The union between matter and consciousness exists for two reasons Bhoga (enjoyment) and Apavarga (liberation). Bhoga represented material potential and construct of matter. Apavarga is spiritual evolution, the state of intuitive clarity. The door is open to which option we want to pursue and for either path or door to work, both bohoga and apavarga must be present. Therefore, no matter our path, karma is defined by our actions. Yoga went a step further from Samkhya, it introduced and insisted on the idea of a supreme principle – Isvara. Knowledge gained in Jnana expresses itself in daily actions in Karma and the practical aspects of Samkhya connect us to our actions.  Bhakti is connected through devotion to both schools of Samkhya and Patanjali and must come from a divine source. Individual consciousness also is known as Brahma (the journey of each is to integrate with this divine ocean of consciousness) it is every consciousness and the final destination. Serve this divine consciousness with love and devotion. (Miller, 2012)

            I like Dr. Kausthub Desikachar’s analogy: River separates itself from earth at its origin represents Samkhya or Jnana Yoga and talks about the distinctions between purusa and prakrti. River moves along its journey and encounters life through cities, mountains, valleys, and other exotic places represent the mirroring of Karma yoga or Patanjali’s integrating knowledge into actions of daily life. The river joins the ocean, merges into a giant body of water that connects all rivers around the world represents Vedanta or Bhakti yoga related to the divine and cradled by supreme consciousness.

            The path of yoga is present in my life, as it has helped me find a new level of health. Every year that I practice, my yoga looks different. However, I seem to have found a new degree of health that I did not know existed. My knowledge of my inner self grows, and it changes my actions towards myself first and then ripples out to other beings. Yoga has helped me discover my spirituality and a means in which to create harmony between my three bodies. It is not always comfortable, but it is always there for me without fail. The path of yoga concept can help us understand health and disease by helping us live a healthy lifestyle in all three bodies (physical, emotional and spiritual) for when we are in conflict with these bodies it causes sickness, pain, suffering, and violence. If we are living a lifestyle that is in harmony, we have good health. The Vijnanamaya Kosha (wisdom body) affects health our balance of wisdom, intuitive, experiences and truth. Again, we have tools such as Yoga nidra, chanting, and meditation to affect our wisdom body.

Causes of Suffering: Ego, Mind, Devolution (Buddhi, Ahamkara, Manas, Senses) when we identify too closely with the changeable aspects of our identity we create suffering. The Upanishads believe if the organs are used for selfish use suffering happens. If desires are the cause of selfish actions, then we are vulnerable to suffering as the same dualities of opposites cause pleasure and pain. Rising above both of these, a battle is fought in the mind and the body. The mind is the seat of all desire and intentions, therefore, the mind is the human battlefield. Karma founded in suffering as ignorance launches Karma into action that causes suffering. Suffering is part of an eternal cosmic cycle. (Easwaran, 2007)

The Bhagavad Gita (1:30, 2:7, 2:13, 4:21, and 4:34) looks at suffering as instability in the mind or defines mental instability as the chief cause of suffering. Mental instability is rooted in desire. Our outgoing nature and dependence on things are how we experience suffering from this state of duality. Suffering is what arises from our ignorance and desire riddled actions.

Freedom suffering lies in achieving freedom through self-restraint, mental stability, detachment, renunciation and absence of desires. The Bhagavad Gita looks at it in three ways: mistaken identity, attachment/involvements and lack of knowledge. Mistaken identity, death, decay, anxiety, fear… lord Krishna teaches that we are not mere body and mind but true self which is eternal. Attachments and involvements – Arjuna suffered because he developed an attachment to family, friends and relations. Our first attachments are to ourselves (what we are, what we have, what we think and do, our likes/dislikes, actions, and reactions, opinions and decisions, dreams and desires, fears and concerns, vices and greed, anger, selfishness, pride and envy). Lack of knowledge influenced through thoughts, beliefs, knowledge, desires and attitudes, which result in good/bad and leading to happiness/unhappiness and success/failure. When we do not have the right knowledge, we suffer from indecision, doubt, confusion, and rationalization.  Part of Arjuna’s egoistic thinking caused suffering. He believed in what he saw and could not think beyond it. We suffer due to lack of knowledge, identification with false selves, attachments to outside worlds and dependence upon senses for knowledge and activities. The Bhagavad Gita suggests through faith and devotion to God and by cultivating equanimity of mind through detachment, by practicing yoga and meditation, we will find that physical and mental discipline will free us from suffering. (Satchidananda, 2005)

The Sutra (1.5) Patanjali talks about the five causes of suffering. He defines them as ignorance of who we really are; egoism (the labels and titles in our life define who we are); attachment (our need to cling to what brings us pleasure); resistance of what we do not want/denial; fear of death (the safety nets we create on a physical and emotional level). He does not divide these into painful/or not as they are the same cause. (Satchidananda, 2005)

Samkhya views suffering as how much we get caught up in the pyscho-mental illusions of prakriti, rajas, and tamas. In the physical body and emotional body.  The proximity of the two great Samkhya systems (purusa-prakriti) postulates that there is a confusion of understanding in the human mind of what is conscious and what is not. The confusion leads to suffering. Samkhya propounds the quest for knowledge of the essential nature of purusa-prakriti and understanding the fundamental difference between the two is the means to have freedom from suffering. (Miller, 2012)

The causes of suffering are present in my life in a very tangible way. While I understand, I determine how much suffering I want to endure; I still struggle to let go. I struggle with the importance of life, the attachment to my loved ones, delusions, and ignorance to which I do not know yet, rajas and tamas influence my thinking, lack of holding strong boundaries and lack of faith in trusting my journey. The more I practice my yoga lifestyle, the more I can become the observer of my patterns and to clear the patterns that are not serving me.  The goal is for my subconscious to leave room for me to create new healthy patterns that serve my greater good.  The causes of suffering  understood in the context of understanding health and disease by shining light onto the root of the system that is out of balance.

Samskaras are patterns whether positive or negative (such as low self-esteem, self-destructive relationships, etc.). Samskaras comes from the Sanskrit sam “complete or joined” and Kara “action, cause or doing”. They are individual impressions, ideas, and actions.  Repeating them creates a groove and which are difficult to resist like fissures in our brain. Samskaras is universal and defines human beings. We are creators of habit – physically and emotionally. The Sutra 11.16 “Pain that has not yet come is avoidable.” I have seen anywhere from one to forty different Samskaras.  If we practice intention/Sankalpa, intensity/Tapas, slowing/Shani, awareness/Vidya, fearlessness/Abhaya, vision/Darshana, and practice/Abhyasa we can clear negative Samskaras. The Upanishads mention Samskaras as a means to grow and prosper in all four aspects of human desires Dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth), Karma/Kama (work and pleasure) and Moksha (salvation).  (Easwaran, 2007) Samskaras imbedded in the subconscious mind; the neurons that fire together stay together. Neural pathways get stronger and so does our automatic responses in our mind and body creating prolonged suffering such as (anxiety, anger, depression, pain). Through Svadyaya ( a study of self), we can become aware of our cycles and develop Maitri-Karuna (love, kindness, and compassion). We can have the courage to strengthen and move in other directions. For when we change by making a conscious effort and reverse the patterns of Samskaras, we free ourselves from suffering.

The Sutra (1.2, 1.50, and 4.9-4.10) suggests that we can control Samskaras thoughts about truth, thoughts based on incorrect perception, thoughts which have no basis in reality (a wild imagination, dream/sleep state of the mind), and memories. The sutra includes cognitive behavior therapy, psychotherapy, mindfulness and compassion within it. (Satchidananda, 2005)

As the samkaras change, we change at the deepest level, changing our neuron net. The cycle of Karma is such: Action – (karma) > Impressions – imprint in subconscious (samskara) > Tendency – mental urges, desires, feelings (vasana) > Thought Pattern – attitudes mental disposition (vritti) > Action – seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling, thinking (karma). Samskaras affect the Manomayakosha (mental/ emotional body) through our habitual patterns of thoughts and emotions.

I use, face and replace, mantra, chanting, transcendental meditation in the theta brainwave state to help me overcome negative samskaras. I use my Sankalpa practice, intentions, and tapas to be more mindful of staying in the present moment helping me to create positive samskaras.  Samskaras  understood in the context of understanding health and disease by moving through the Pranamayakosha.  This system feeds every organ and system in the body that is responsible for homeostasis. Samskaras can affect these subtle energy centers causing our organ and systems to create diseases in the emotional body.  There may be a feedback loop of “I am not enough” “I do not have a value” and this eventually shows up in the physical body through chronic tension and pain, postural deviations leading to muscle imbalances.

Kleshas are afflictions, mental factors that produce states of torment both immediately and in the long-term. The five main kleshas, which referred to as poisons are Attachment, Aversion, Ignorance, Pride, and Jealousy.  First, we must acknowledge the klesha is there. We do this through reflection promoting self-awareness, self-understanding and self-knowledge to uncover the klesha. The klesha can overcome through meditation, tapas and seeking wisdom to burn away the impurities of the mind ridding the klesha so we can see clearly and the reality of the world and true nature can be present.

In the Sutra (2.3-2.11, 11.3) it talks about Avidya/Ignorance – mistaking impermanent for permanent, Asmita/Ego “I am- ness” – the labels and judgments that we make, Raga/Attachment – to or desires, Dvesha/Aversion – new ground we are out of our comfort zone, Abhinivesha/ Clinging to live, fear and love of material life. The last four mentioned (ego, attachment, aversion, clinging to life) spring out of the first one mentioned (ignorance). All of our obstacles are tied to our fear and ignorance. (Satchidananda, 2005) The Samkhya talks about knowing the real nature of the universe and that our main afflictions we suffer with are ignorance, confusion, and misperceptions. (Miller, 2012)

The Kleshas are present in my life as I struggle with fear, depression and desires. These mental states muddy the mind and through my yoga practice, I have been able to cut down my talk therapy bills and clear my mind. The Kleshas are understood in the context of understanding health and disease by looking at the emotional root-cause in the subconscious brain. For example, Dr. Loyd has traced it back to three inhibitors (un-forgiveness, harmful actions, and unhealthy beliefs) and the nine virtues (love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, trust, humility, self-control, peace).  I appreciate Dr. Loyd’s work on The Healing Codes.  He has traced disease states back to an emotional root causes (this does not mean that we chuck our western medicine out the door). The Center for Disease Control estimates that 80% of all health care dollars are spent on illness related to stress.  Dr. Loyd suggests that we ask the question “What stress is causing this problem and how can I eliminate it?” The healing codes help heal the body by removing the stress from the body through the neuro-immune system. It is a mudra, transcendental meditation technique held in various parts of the body (third eye chakra, temple, throat chakra and jaw). In knowing our root causes of suffering and the virtues we struggle with we can create healing through self-awareness.

References

Bawra, B. V. (2012). Samkhya Karika with Gaudapadacarya Bhasya. USA: Brahmrishi Yoga Publications.

 

Easwaran, E. (2007). The Upanishads (2nd ed.). Tomales, CA: Nilgiri Press.

 

Miller, B. S. (2004). The Bhagavad-Gita Krishna’s Counsel in Time of War. New York, NY: Bantam Dell.

 

Miller, R. (2012). The Sankhya Karika: A New Translation.

 

Satchidananda, S. S. (2005). The Living Gita: The Complete Bhagavad Gita: A commentary for modern readers (6th ed.). Buckingham, VA: Integral Yoga Publications.

 

Satachidananda, S. (2005). Sadhana Pada Portion on Practice. In The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (11th ed., pp. 131-151). Buckingham, Virginia: Integral Yoga Publications.

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Get in Shape & Thrive: Intention

“Intentions are causes that create effect. Choosing an intention is the fundamental creative act. An intention is the reason or motivation for doing what you do. Every act has an intention….it comes from fear or from love.” Gary Zukar

Let’s face it, meditation is hard to prioritize, it feels embarrassing. What should I meditate on? How often should I meditate? Do I use certain words in my intention? Is it okay to use my intentions during meditation to ask for material things? Should I always use the same meditation and intention?  These many questions often get in the way of our actual action of setting time aside to meditate. Artha is one of the four desires in yoga philosophy (Dharma – duty, ethics, Artha – prosperity, wealth, Kama – pleasure, sensual gratification, and Moksha- pursuit of liberation). We can meditate on any of these areas as long as the intention is to support our soul’s dharma.

Yes, there are some who meditate for hours effortlessly. For me, some days three minutes is difficult and I want to avoid it at all costs and then other days forty-five minutes didn’t seem to be enough and it came effortlessly. Why is it easier to meditate in the storms of our lives? When tragedy such as grief and loss happen in our lives all the time, intentions, words, spring from us and we hope. The books that have helped me during storms in my life are How to Survive the Loss of a Love by Harold H. Bloomfield, MD, Melba Colgrove, PHD, and Peter McWilliams and The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart by Daphne Rose Kingma.  For many of us, meditation is a struggle because we focus on ourselves and control over life, rather than a higher power.

Rod Stryker, one of my favorite presenters, of the four desires (check out his book The Four Desires) says, “it pays to pursue the meaning of the word itself purusharthas. Purusha roughly means ‘soul’ – the essential Self that is unchanging, that isn’t born and doesn’t die, but belongs to the universe. Artha means ‘the ability’ or ‘for the purpose of.’ Purusharthas means ‘for the purpose of the soul; and the very concept asks that you take the broadest view of your life.”  Are your days balanced in such a way that you feel supported from your inner work? Our spirit is the nonphysical part of us that is the seat of our emotions and character.

Meditate often, honestly, unselfishly, and confidently. Challenge yourself to meditate often. Two books that help me meditate in the morning and evening is The Daily Om by Madisyn Taylor and First in the Morning by Osho. Meditate until you are clear, inspired, and your heart is on fire with love, kindness, and compassion. Now don’t get crazy and act all goofy with your new found energy and annoy your friends. Just allow your heart and mind to engage with your spirit on an intensely personal level. We do this by meditating daily on love, kindness, compassion, intention, and our soul’s dharma. We need to get fired up, meditate, because it is what magnifies the spirit in our lives.

You can do a burn and release session for setting an intention for 2016, then release control and let go.  Take a moment to sit, grounded feet on the floor in your best posture, find your breath, and then begin. Take a piece of paper and write everything you want to invoke. These are feelings and circumstances that you want more of. On the other side of the paper or a new one write your intentions. Start with the feelings or circumstances that no longer serve you, the things you want to release.

Now say something like:

I no longer need the lessons that these feelings, things, or circumstances would teach me. If I haven’t already, I vow to learn these lessons in a different way that feels better and opens my heart.

Burn the list!

I invite these emotions and circumstances into my life this time to serve my highest and best good. I intend that these things will fuel me to be of better service, to be more present and to keep open my heart.

Burn the list!

Suggested intentions to release might be: Thinking you are not enough, breaking promises, dwelling on the past, worrying about the future, living up to others expectations, comparing yourself to others, etc. Suggested things to invoke might be: fun, financial freedom, intimacy, connection, creativity, etc.

Meditation isn’t an option for those wanting to live with mindfulness.

Questions?

  • What priority do you place on meditation?
  • How do you show this?
  • How can you benefit from writing out your intentions?
  • What are the disadvantages to writing them out?
  • How sincere and honest are you in meditation?
  • How can you avoid doing meaningless meditation or having been nap time?
  • What should we practice and what should we avoid? Make a List!

Intention:

Developing meditation and intention toward our greater good draws people to us!

 

Taking a Fast Challenge:

Fasting is a spiritual discipline that powerfully directs our attention towards a higher power. Consider for the next two weeks replacing breakfast, lunch, or dinner with meditation.  Four ideas or places to start your meditation practice from could be:

  1. Candle gazing for 3 minutes daily.
  2. Transcendental Meditation for 20 minutes daily (repeating an Om).
  3. Doing a guided meditation from your iTunes account.
  4. Following your breath in and out for a predetermined amount of time.

Next Steps:

Meaningful-have this be quality time for you

Educate- yourself on what you should practice and should avoid

Discipline- to be honest, confident often, and to prioritize your practice

Intention-allow the healing process to be what it needs to be for your greater good

Try- keep trying, keep practicing

Appointment- make one to meditate

Train- physical movement is good & makes sitting for prolonged periods of time easier

Each- day ask how we can be part of the greater good

 

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Applied Yoga Philosophy

In this paper you will learn how the classical text of Ramayana has influenced my life and my yoga practice. I will discuss the core principles and/or teachings of this text with regard to historical context and to the contemporary application of it today. I will also describe how the teachings in this text have influenced my role as a Yoga Therapist and how it is applicable to my clients.  Ramayana gives insights into how to live our various dharma’s and ethical standards at times of mental turmoil. It teaches us lessons of mortality and is a guide for righteous living. Ramayana inspires old and young and cuts across all barriers such as income levels, cultures and religions from around the world. The Ramayana story retold by William Buck is one that speaks to me. (Buck, 1976)

Ramayana was originally written in Sanskrit in the tradition of Vedas. The story is about the romance of Rama and the Court and the struggle of good over evil. It contains twenty-four thousand couplets (verses). These verses were written in thirty-two syllable meters called sloka (two line verses with sixteen syllables each). The meter is called anustup, chapters are called sargas and books are called kandas (of which there are seven). Each phrase of the story is connected to the next phase. This text dates back to 880,000 BCE (before Common Era or Christian Era). (Anonymous, “Ancient World History”)

The most important lesson that Ramayana teaches us is the relationship between Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Ultimately we are striving for Moksha and if we follow our Dharma we will obtain Moksha however at times Artha and Kama muddy our ways as we lean toward excess or scarcity in these categories rather than defining what is enough for us to fulfill our Dharma. I love how Rod Stryker describes the four desires. He says: Dharma in simple terms is the drive to fulfill your potential, you might also think of it as your duty (daughter, sister, etc.); Artha refers to material resources that will help you fulfill your dharma; Kama is the desire for pleasures of all kinds and Moksha is the longing for liberation and true freedom. (Stryker, 2011, pp. 20-23)

Ramayana is relevant more than ever in our modern society. Ramayana can be used as a set of values or a code of conduct in how to love our individual life, our family life, our career and how to connect with others in society. The young can learn from their mentors/ elders about wisdom in practicing the lessons taught in Ramayana. Currently in our society I see an undertone of solitary accomplishments being a metric of success. Success equated to worthiness, yet we are born worthy and unity is success. Relationships are being based on economy and greed instead of love, honesty and loyalty. Think of your hand for a moment. What if each finger did its own thing? How much can you accomplish with one finger? When all five units work together what can you accomplish then? We have teens who don’t heed parental advice and parents that aren’t concerned with their teen’s future. We have students that don’t respect teachers and teachers who don’t impart wisdom to students. We are one.  We breathe the same air, drink the same water and put our pants on the same way. Unity is diversity. We must all do our own work to understand ourselves better to be at peace for the world to be at peace.  One of my character strengths is the love of learning. I remind myself every day to take my acquired book knowledge and put it into practical knowledge to live by. “Ramayana is more than just a story. It assimilates principles of science and psychology, within its broader fold of spirituality and wisdom and this affords an all-inclusive solution.” –Dr. Ramesh Kumar Gupta

 How do we preserve our values? We are busy working hard to achieve individual success through greed and disregard for family, spouses, friendships, and fortunes. We have lost sight of what is truly important; unity, connection, loyalty, family, higher power, purpose and love. “Spirituality destroys narrow mindedness and confers unity, cooperation and universal peace.” ~Sai Darshan Pressures to perform deteriorate our life.  Without connection and spirituality we end up losing ourselves and our happiness. (Gupta)

Rama said in the second battle episode of the siege of Lanka: Vibhishanal! Self-confidence is my chariot and my courage and patience are its wheels. Truth and character is my flag while my strength, knowledge and self-control and goodwill are the four horses of my chariot. Forgiveness and uniform behavior are the ropes used to tie these horses. Faith in God is my charioteer while contentment and charity is my sword and axe respectively. My principles are my arrows. Devotion to the Brahmana’s and to my preceptor is my impenetrable amour. What other means of victory can one crave for? (Bhanot, 1992, p. 12)

My life and work is filled with love and through the life lessons of Ramayana. I can inspire myself and others to heal through movement. The fourteen lessons that Ramayana teaches us and I apply in my profession as a Yoga Therapist are:

If I come back to my soul’s dharma code I can relinquish my excess of wants in materialism and sense pleasures. I have dharmas or duties to carry out through other roles such as being a wife, daughter, friend, aunt, Yoga Therapist etc. Working through my four desires and developing clarity on my soul’s dharma code has helped me stay grounded as a Yoga Therapist while guiding my clients in finding clarity for themselves.

 Ramayana’s lesson of being married to one partner in our lifetime is built on long term meaningful relationships that are loyal and respectful of both parties. I like this quote by Kabbalah “We all come to this world as half a soul, we stumble about in this existence, trying other halves, preparing for the day when we will meet our kindred spirit. That’s when life really begins, that’s when it picks up speed and starts to flow and we can cast off. But we can’t meet that kindred spirit unless we discover our mission in life first.” It reminds me to do my work so others can do their work as well. Relationships are not perfect. They require growth, forgiveness and compassion especially after the affinity fades and the relationship changes into something that isn’t as new.  Relationships are a living moving piece of art that is always seeking balance and harmony. By having boundaries for myself and as a Yoga Therapist it allows me to have compassion and empathy. Happiness is obtained from the inside not from the outside.

If we take our time and speak our truth we are keeping our promises and honoring ourselves and others. As a Yoga Therapist I use my tools from Marshal Rosenberg (Psychologist and creator of nonviolent communication) and speak in a style that is non-violent and honor the profession and me. This maybe at times saying “I don’t know, I’m struggling with that myself, I feel this professional would be more helpful, I can’t fix but I can guide you to finding a more comfortable space if you are willing to do the work.”

It is my duty as a pioneer in this field to be respectful of the client in front of me, to my peers and those coming behind me. Reminding myself of my own detachment challenges without disappointment. Reminding myself to stay in a professional role rather than a friendship role with my clients so that they we can detach as a celebration of how far they have come without disappointment.

Not to listen to pointless and useless stories of my life especially stories that are vicious. It reminds me that my personality or way of healing my not be right for everyone and it is okay to excuse myself from a relationship with a client if I feel it isn’t providing healing for the client and a strain on my energy level. There are many needing guidance.

Not to accept valuable goods or presents from anyone, as this does the service of Yoga Therapy an injustice. A fair wage for the session provided is enough. I always tell my clients the greatest gift you can give me is to first heal yourself and then share your story, tell others about this service and then invite them to start their work.

Sometimes things come to you in disguise and to try and not get swayed by suspect attractions. Follow my gut and trust my personal intuition. As a Yoga Therapist I can always ask curious questions to understand things better and to see if what I’m feeling is client’s truth.

To always speak mindfully and to think before I speak sometimes my findings as a Yoga Therapist should be just that; my findings. My words could cause the client harm. They don’t need to know all of my assessment findings right from the start as they are usually coming to me wounded from a trauma of some sort. I want to create a trust, a safe place emotionally and physically- then I guide them through layers of self-discovering and healing as they are ready and ask for the knowledge and specifics.

All people have value and deserve to be treated fairly. No one deserves to be part of a violent act whether that is verbal or physical or be the subject of cruelty or bullying behavior. As a Yoga therapist I always lay out the expectations of what I agree to bring to each session and what I ask my client to bring to each session. It sets a boundary and a tone of what to expect during our times together.

My life and work is filled with love that moves people to heal; I am light in a dark world. I believe love exceeds all barriers. As a Yoga Therapist (I ask first) I always give my clients a hug on the way out. Hugs are healing and so many times I am the only loving touch they received all day. Vitamin L (love) is what will heal the world.

As a Yoga Therapist I am only their guide on this great adventure of theirs. They have to do all the work. I’m humbled and honored that they chose me to guide them.

We are wired for connection, belonging and friendships. As a Yoga Therapist I create times where there is a sense of community at the studio. A place where like-minded individuals can go, belong and friendships can be made. The connections here have a major impact on our local community.

Those that have the biggest bark, the toughest exterior, the souls that hurt others are the ones that need help the most. I pray daily for strength to be given to me, for the wisdom to ask the right question that will help them heal. On the inside they want love, connection and belonging more than anyone.

At times I have to jump into the middle of a fire to set a higher standard. As a Yoga Therapist I hold myself to high standards, others say they are impossible standards. As a teacher I guide my clients to lean into their fears to find calm waters and to set a standard for themselves and role model it to others.

 

References

Ancient World History. (2012, July 22). Retrieved October 19, 2015.

 

Bhanot, T. (Ed.). (1992). Ramayana: Part 9: Battle episode 2. (p. 12). Nai Sarak, Delhi: Dreamland Publications.

 

Buck, W. (1976). Ramayana: King Rama’s way (35th ed.). Berkeley, California: University of California Press.

 

Gupta, R. (2011, April 4). Ramayan for our daily lives – The Times of India. Retrieved October 19, 2015.

 

Stryker, R. (2011). For the purpose of the soul. In The four desires: Creating a life of purpose, happiness, prosperity, and freedom (pp. 20-23). New York: Delacorte Press.

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