Tag Archive: sadhana

State of the Garden

One of the key teachings about yoga sadhana (practice) is that results best or sometimes only can possibly come with steady commitment for a long period of time.

The red maple in my front garden (really more of a giant tree box) was barely the height of the porch roof when I bought my house.  Now, almost 25 years later, it is as tall as the house.  And even more stunningly, blazingly, Kali-like red every fall.

red maple

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Found Exhortation (and Sadhana)

Have you done your practice (in Sanskrit–sadhana) today, whatever your practice may be?

If you don’t yet have a regular practice, what do you think it would take? I recommend starting small–allow it to be short and what you like to practice, rather than failing because you think it must be challenging or for a longer period of time than fits readily into your schedule.

Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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Found Exhortation

A number of years ago I had a conversation with a cherished friend and co-worker who is no longer in this body. I was explaining to her the yoga practice of samtosha (contentment), which is one of the five niyamas that make up the second limb of the eight-limbed path of yoga set forth in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. My friend said it felt like a great revelation to think of contentment as a practice. She had thought of it as a state you were either lucky enough to have — or not.

Many states or characteristics or attitudes that we tend to think of as only being innate characteristics or good fortune can be cultivated.

Wearing an exhortation on a t-shirt might not necessarily be my style, but I do agree kindness is worthy of cultivation when it does not happen spontaneously.

Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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Mantra

The texts on sadhana — yoga practice  — say in simplified essence that mantra is the fulcrum between the unknowable universal and manifest particulars.  What language we use and how we use it can either lead us towards skillfully navigating life informed by illuminated understanding or blundering through things with obscured vision (or, I add, somewhere in between, but which do you want to be your goal?).  If you listen for your authentic voice, what words do you want to utter, which do you want to embody, which do you want to offer?  The mantra is a tool (in the best sense of the word) to find a source for our own language (thought and spoken) that recognizes the common bond of dwelling together as neighbors (near or far) on this earth, in this universe.

New York City, June 13-14

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On My Way to New Jersey

I was not able to attend the mid-week intensive in New Jersey with John Friend. It was hard enough to make room in my schedule for the weekend workshop.

I can, though, be with my teacher and friends not just in spirit, but in intention. Knowing that the focus of the intensive was sadhana (practice), I selected The Philosophy of Sadhana to read on my way to the weekend, so that when I arrive I can be more in alignment mentally with those who already have been immersed this week in deep study of what sadhana means for ourselves and in community. Choosing to study in a way that connects us with our friends on the path, even when we cannot physically be present with them is, of course, one of the ways we support relationship in sadhana.

Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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What Difference Does Lobbying Make (and Svatantriya)

The tantric yoga philosophy ascribes the characteristic of svatantriya or ultimate freedom to the energy that infuses all of us.  We all want to be free, but when we get stuck in our embodiment, forgetting that we ourselves are manifestations of spirit, then we lose sight of our true freedom.  To find our own freedom of spirit, we need to be disciplined, to practice, to study, to live in a way that brings us into better alignment with ourselves and world with which we are inextricably interconnected.

In this country, one of our principle ideals and buzz words in dialogue about how we should live is freedom.  What can so often be forgotten in this dialogue, though, is that freedom is a contract.  To be in a society where all have the opportunity to experience freedom, we need to agree, with discrimination (viveka) to certain limitations (for example, we agree to stop for red lights so that we can be free to drive and walk without a constant risk of being hit in crowded city).

Granted, I am grossly oversimplifying here, but part of the great losses of freedom we are currently experiencing is the abdication by individuals of the responsibility to shape the agreement to maximize our collective freedoms.  Like the agreement with ourselves to practice steadily to experience inner freedom, we need to stay engaged, even when it seems impossible or deeply frustrating, in order not to lose sight of the ideal entirely.  Here’s some information from FCNL on why it is important to lobby despite how fruitless an act it may appear to be.

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Great Gary Snyder Quote (and Sadhana)

My friend Dan just posted on his blog a great Gary Snyder quote on the need to do maintenance (of the self) in order to be most creative.  The idea that we need to maintain our tools and toolbox, as it were, in order to be most creative, is exactly what we are taught about the tantric yoga sadhana  — practice.  With our yoga practice, diet, lifestyle, work, consumption, participation in community, we seek to live progressively more in alignment with the undulating fabric of space, time, and apparent world so that we have maximum well-being best to serve ourselves and others with delight. In our sadhana, we include both study and experience (experience includes meditation, asana, and pranayama).  As both John Friend and Paul Muller-Ortega teach, we engage in the practices and studies to learn with ever expanding insight how to see and experience the highest first and live from that place.  Living and practicing with such an intention is, I think, the maintenance done so we can live out all of our lives as a reverential and creative act.

Dan–I look forward to reading the sermon.

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Spring Cleaning (and Path of Sadhana)

For the past couple of weeks, I have been spending as much time as possible in the garden.  When it is too rainy or cold to be in the garden, I have been doing indoor spring cleaning.  As the days get noticeably brighter and longer, it is delightful to see the new growth in the garden and to polish my treasures and make room to use and enjoy what I have.  I’ve been noticing how the first major activities in the garden make a mess.  Inside, activities such as cleaning out the refrigerator and the closets also makes things seem messier before they they get cleaner.  I’ve persisted, though, and now the garden is teeming with visible new life, unencumbered by the detritus of dead growth on the perennials or spent annuals from last year.  With things I do not need given away or repurposed and things clean and repaired, I can more easily use and appreciate what I have in the house.  It seemed like quite a mess for a while, though, when I was taking things off of shelves and out of drawers and closets in preparation for cleaning.

There can be phases in our sadhana –both asana practice and meditation and related practices — where all the practice seems to be doing is bringing up old stuff.  It seems like we are more physically or emotionally challenged than we would have been if we weren’t practicing. The thought may cross our mind that we would be happier just going to the movies and going on an eating tour of Italy.

Although sometimes strong reactions can mean that a practice is not right for us (at a certain point in time or not at all — similar to a reaction to food), it can also mean that the practice is doing the equivalent of spring cleaning.  Part of sadhana is learning how to react in a more optimal way to what manifests and arises from our practice.  When a host of old memories or emotions arise or we press up against our limits by digging in deep physically to find where and how to rearrange our bones, muscles, sinews, and energy channels to clear an old injury, we have an opportunity to clear out and let go to make room for new growth.  We don’t have to shove the stuff back into our mind-body closet or leave it where it obstructs new growth.  The old patterns and memories come up in practice so we can either release them or change our relationship to them so they can become something that serves instead of weighing us down.

When I get into one of those messy spots, I remind myself how good I feel when I’ve done my spring cleaning, and I try to keep going forward, doing the best I can with the teachings I’ve been given.  I admit that it is easier to persist because I love the actual activity of the practices (though the ones I need to do most can be the ones that are not my favorite, but that’s a whole other train of thought).

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What a Good Murder Mystery Can Teach Us About Sadhana

Surely that’s what life was all about?  Opening doors and peering through them–perhaps even finding the rose gardens there… (Colin Dexter, The Dead of Jericho)

The good murder mysteries — the ones that teach much about human nature and do not dwell graphically on gore and violence — can teach us much about the power of sadhana (yoga practice).  The best mysteries are ones in which the protagonist teaches us by his or her investigation into the mystery that with careful, steady discipline, the application of well-developed technique and study, consistent effort, and an openness to trust intuition tempered by discrimination, we can reveal to ourselves the truth of the matter.  The truth revealed is not just the identity, means, and motive of the murderer (mystery solved), but the knowledge of the extraordinariness of human being in all of its manifestations, both good and evil.

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Azalea Walk at the National Arboretum (and Sadhana)

As it is every year, the Azalea Walk at the National Arboretum fills me with joy and wonder.  “Was it really this splendid last year?” one of my companions asked.  “I go every year,” she said, “but I forget how gorgeous it is!” She comes back each year to remember the beauty and the awe.  So, too, it can be with our practice.  We stop going to class or practicing our meditation or asana for a while because we get too busy.  Then we come back, and we ask ourselves how we could have forgotten the joy and beauty a steady practice brings us, and we are inspired to commit again.

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