• Allowing Equanimity

    November 5, 2017 will duprey Uncategorized

    Equanimity in essence is defined as being even amongst opposition or difficult circumstances.

    During a teacher training program in Vermont, the word “equanimity” was used in a particular samhita (scriptural text) reading to describe samadhi, or enlightenment.

    Equanimity was not a word that sat with me well for describing samadhi. In fact, it was like a thorn in my brain sticking out no mattered how many ways I turned it.

    Yes, we are using words to talk about an experiential, non-dual state which will always fail; however, something was not integrating. The possibility of a dated translation also exists; however, in my experience, older translations are usually more clear though sometimes limited by other social standards.

    I decided to turn my attention to enlightenment.

    When we talk about enlightenment, there are so many things that swirl through the mind and perhaps, meeting that swirly thought projection with unwavering steadiness is equanimity? Possibly enlightenment? This seems very limited in concentration and application to me.

    Further defining enlightenment or samadhi is difficult. Practical examination of the word or state reminds us that no matter how we define it, we are referring to a state and that is almost impossible to describe. What we achieve in a state really belongs to us.

    Why then is equanimity not a suitable synonym for samadhi? For me, itʼs not a suitable synonym due to a very simple thought: the practice is my own. Therefore, the state in which I enter is either allowed in order to have an integrated experience or it is rejected.

    As one expands states or points of change in consciousness, how does the mind move through a non-enlightened state? If we examine this development in a practical manner, it leads us to approach and response in which we have and what we will cultivate in face of any stimuli entertained in the application (sorry, love, I can’t sort this sentence). In short, our responses to the very techniques we are using to enter states of consciousness can vary in each individual. Again, the state I enter is due to my response to stimuli or technique, and it is the same for you.

    How do we then decide which way to send the mind? Do we send it at all? What if we allow? What would that mean in the confrontation of these woes and what if the distress fades through direction alone?

    Mindfulness comes into play and, to add clarity, we have to push it out as it is a Buddhist specific term. Within this construct, we are speaking of a yogic approach which consists of a doctrine of habit (something done with discipline) that creates an attachment.

    The struggle: the changes we encounter — enriching living while responding through yoga techniques — results in innumerable experiences. Even in simple pranayama techniques, we can see one student who has found what yoga is all about and another who acknowledges a loud internal voice inside that says, ‘Youʼre going to die.ʼ As silly as that seems, it is true and clear that a response is not uniform even amongst those intentionally trying to develop samadhi or an evolved spiritual disposition, commonly called self-realization.

    The self varies from all the lenses of life experiences, and there is a stripping, or peeling, that is acquired. That stripping is certainly equanimity. Keeping steady in the discipline and in action amongst all weathers of the mind and emotion. However, the state, the expansion to go beyond can only come from allowing, especially allowing that which has not been before or has not been for a long time.

    I would personally take “returning” over “equanimity” to describe samadhi. The application seems most suitable. Allowing does something better than provide us with a destination; it reconciles all the tools we have used to get to that point. No matter how skilled you are at diving, when gravity takes over you move through the air, allowing, surrendering to it all. This experience goes beyond skill set and technique and variables while simultaneously providing a state in which we are fully immersed in.

  • Suffering, Transformation and the New Reality

    September 4, 2017 will duprey Uncategorized

    Needless to say, there is suffering. Part of suffering is unavoidable. Small sufferings can wreak havoc momentarily as we attend educational programs, training, relocate, have a child or suffer the loss of a loved one. Often suffering is not the cause of something that was unforeseen though not desired. The word “change” means that something will be made different. It does not say how. We often hear the famous quote “Be the change you ” without taking into account that in order to be change it is a position elected for one comfortably moving into that which is different, unknown, change itself.

    One of the first ways to seek out the imbalance in Ayurveda is by creating routine. Dinacharya, or a daily care, allows a reset to transpire. The regular, consistency is also crucial in a yoga practice. This daily practice, usually aimed and self-realization, is referred to as sadhana. At root of that work, we have ‘sad’ to find truth. Seeking change is different than seeking truth. Change can come if we call it but truth is exploring that which is universal and simultaneously internally stationary.

    When we seek truth rather than transformation we create stability in our own light. The change can move around us rather than through us. This sets us up for what I refer to as a shift in our psycho-spiritual framework.

    What does this look like?

    Professor Narasimhan and Dr. M.A. Jayashree presented this concept of a metabolic state to me. Think of a coned, funnel standing on the tip. Easy to knock over. Now imagine it balanced on the mouth. Harder, however you can still push it over. If you leave the funnel on it’s side and push it, it spins in a complete circle. You see it moving but the center of it looks still. The change spins around the fixed point.

    Taking this concept into the framework I mention above it is not as simple as okay, I’ve knocked the funnel over, I understand. The mind is often not prepared for this change. As Samkya philosophy and yoga introduce there are plenty of dualistic views; good and bad; hot and cold, etc., yet some are blurry to us: pain and pleasure; happiness and sadness. They become blurry as we usually seek to fulfill one that is appealing and avoid one that is potential suffering or painful.

    Patanjali, author of the “Yoga Sutras” spoke of this very concept as part of what is termed “avidya” which is not seeing clearly or with knowledge. This provides us with some word weaponry. One is that knowledge is not merely what you know. It is what you can access, experience and conceive within living. Further, sight is not limited by what you see but it can be limited by avoidance, fear, egoism and demands we place in the world. You can imagine that when the view, or our sight is reactive and operating from avidya that it is incredibly difficult to have a desired, long term outcome that creates stability. In turn, our ideals, mind, get caught up in the spinning of change and it appears as if this is happening to us. That we are in fact here to suffer in the world.

    I am not going to pretend to know another’s suffering and will not ask you to understand that which I have suffered. Perspective, understanding brings about empathy and this is one of the beauties of being a sentient being. You can actually care for someone else. And you can feel for them. That is amazing in itself.

    Going into that amazing, intimacy, suffering, healing, feeling, each of us also posses a quality which is unique to us. Dharma, which has many definitions, but we will expand into individual purpose. I have noticed in mentoring and teaching and talking to people about life that we most suffer and pain when we are missing or forgetting purpose. Not our occupation but our purpose.

    Another beauty with yoga is it is not for a select few with an unlimited clothing budget but is readily available to all as it aims at self identity and realization and part of that is purpose. Our own dharma is a guide. When we move with that the mind is clear, steady and the movements around us are like a dance. We feel the vibration of the world, people, places and in height or downturn but constant and steady amongst the change.

    Transformation is experienced by feeling our way, growing in the shit and allowing our findings to push into the light. Change is the way in which we transform and it bring us from known to unknown. This can be made steady by dropping the identity in which we had before. Classically, when a siddha (master of yoga) would pierce these states, they would change their name. This is common in yoga by identity but classical is earned through initiation process and reflected purpose and not a cool name that you saw or heard. You lived by the name, reflected in sound and breath and an aspect of the energy that poured through you. That you danced that way, dreamed that way, held another that way and when the mind holds onto identity of that which was, this is when we have psycho-spiritual strife.

    Now what is amplified is not the suffering but the identity of the suffering as one moves from the center of the spinning funnel and into outer spaces of their mental, emotional understanding. Healing involves our own identity that we have with suffering. Transformation involves allowing the body, mind to change, dropping the skin of those results, cravings, desires and moving into the more visible light of our own purpose, over and over again until we no longer need to hold steadiness as we become it amongst change. Is that awesome, you radiant one!

  • Salutations Anger

    The following passage is from one of my favorite collections. This text has a permanent place in my hiking pack. It is great at the summit and midway, in the woods or when you reach home.

    Take a look!

    “Salutation to the one with righteous wrath, O Rudra; to your arrow salutation also;
    salutation to your bow,
    And salutation to your arms of might.
    That your arrow which is the kindliest of all and your bow which is auspicious
    And that your quiver which bears the blessing, by that you make us happy.” ~ Taittiriya Samhita

    This passage is much more revealing and visible in the original language in that it unveils the phrases as a series of salutations, demands and wants. Desires, shown with the word salutation, serve as an appeasement, an offer, praising the ability without wanting to see the possible action or ability.

    If we direct ourselves toward emotion, through wants, desires or demands, the practitioner continues to have more wants and to get rid of the emotion or let it rule the kingdom rather than understand it or to tap in. Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist Nun wrote to this effect, highlighting when people seek to use meditation to extract emotions that they view as negative qualities. Further, paraphrasing, she uses our friend anger by example. The origin of the emotion may reveal some healing point for us but the raw energy of it, directed and guided, in essence is attraction, fire, light.

    Think of what you can do with attraction, fire, light as an internal quality!

    In short, when we seek to eradicate the negative, along comes the positive.

    Even basic shifting of our attention can be seen to great benefit. If I look at fire, raw, on a house or on a person it is not enjoyable. However, if I place a ring of rocks around it and produce a campfire then we make s’mores. We all know and can see that fire can burn although it is has no intention to not cause harm. Light, heat and attraction are produced.

    When we refer to energy, ideologies of good and bad immediately come to mind. Looking at energy or prana from a yoga perspective, there is neither good or bad. Prana is expressed as a basic unit of measured energy paired with intelligence. Not intelligence like an alien on another planet that is only trying to survive and uses you as a host but intelligent as in grand and connected to consciousness – the fabric of all that exists.

    When we look at intelligence and energy as a material it is not something that we are trying to gain. I would argue more that by practice and living we are trying to reduce that which stops our full experience of consciousness with energy and intelligence moving all around and within us. If that is intelligence and energy then it is the same material and energy that started you out as a single cell, prior to having a head, heart and lungs. That still exists, even on a cellular level. When we side with qualities, we move away from potential and true experience.

    Perhaps if we rid ourselves of the want for removal of the energy and instead dive into caring for it. If someone is injured do we not care for them? If we are sick do we not care for ourselves or seek care? In those moments we realize that we are not sick forever or injured always. There is change. They are momentary and that even when we are battling there is something inside that does not need protection. This can even tie into our very identity externally and internally.

    Taking our attention to the passage, the text asks Rudra to be benevolent to the aspirant because the idea is that Rudra is anger so salutations is paid to Rudra, his arrow, his bow, his arms. Without the arms, no bow, without the bow, no arrow can be shot. All is left is the He, a true example of conscious. The same applies to us.

    Practically, relating this to emotion, we embrace the emotion, allowing it without giving it arms, bow, arrow (tools) to destroy. Embracing emotion draws it into sight and allows it be what it is: passing, moving, momentary. Acknowledging that which is happening draw into our field what is beyond emotion or at least coexisting with emotion.

    Using yoga (including meditation) to cut quality out of you is violent and aggressive in measure. Now, the process of some yoga paths does create a purification so to speak that will create separation from that which we think and continues misperception and that would include view emotion as a problem.

    Further examination or deepening our practice can bring us fully into longing, desire and memory which all play a role in perpetuating emotion as most real and right. The wants can bring about more wants and the salutations can lead to desire to avoid. That without using our own tools or even salutations, we cannot call upon the divine nature of us without discrimination from that which is fleeting.

    In essence, we seek true nature, even in glimpses to see there is absolute clarity and something beyond bad and good. There is you.

  • Meditative Death

    Death. Some of us run from it, some of us embrace it. Recently, I have been looking at if from an alternative perspective within the use of meditation.

    If we look at death from a termination of something that is active or living then there is death all around us.

    If we apply this to meditation and in using a technique, there is a point at which one is trying to gain focus. The technique might be the use of a sound, tactile or visual imagery. Maybe it really is some secret yogi practice that will open up your chakras and energetic channels. No matter the technique, application is necessary to make it work and with longevity, the language of experience occurs through time, place, constancy.

    We find gains in the experience, move past frustration from sitting with legs falling asleep or tension in the body causing trembling, rocking or fluttering eyes and into a peaceful and independent film of our own thoughts – enjoyable yet constant – as we watch memories, tension and residual, peripheral stress fade or even float before us.

    The experience of sifting through is quite enjoyable and dharana, or concentration holds us steady and true, potentially with a life within a life of experiencing all the processes of the mind. The technique has stopped working.

    Enter the mind and application. The mind loves to decide and categorize and is a great friend in the use of dharana but is not so friendly when we want to entertain dhyana, or meditation. If we travel back to earlier experiences in asana, yoga postures we may recall that time where you were practicing and you heard this internal voice say, ‘You’re not breathing’ and you reapplied all your drishtis and fired up your best ujjayi breathing and chalked it up to a lack of focus.

    What if that drifting was something else? What if you were sliding into dhyana and that while you were sinking in, relaxing, moving beyond the application of your breath, posture and drishti, you were starting to enter a meditative state? I mean, if you really stopped breathing, you’d be on the floor wondering what happened. The mind is so subtle, at times the very concentration it loves to give you energy for starts to work, it also is like singing the mind to sleep. And you know when you start to fall asleep and your body jumps, well the mind does the same thing.

    Why?

    It is my belief that during those times we enter meditation, that the mind begins to lose overall control and jumps in as it wrestles death. However, this is the time to rejoice. It is a time to celebrate as the technique of concentration is allowing for the energy of the senses to go in and when that happens, slowly they all experience death. Especially for those of you who have been practicing asana and pranayama, breathing and mental practices to expand energy, as this is the natural transition from the mastery of the body, physical or hatha yoga and into mental mastery, or raja yoga.

    To make things complicated and to understand the process further, we often continue to use the same technique throughout only how we use it changes. We change the way we use it to allow for the falling mind to stay in slumber and give death to the apprehension value. Remember, the mind is not going to physically die or stop altogether but we do want to honor the other aspects of it. What comes to mind is the word “allowing.” We allow through the change of the application of technique for the mind to ease and for tarka, observation to create the new lens.

    Sri Dharma Mittra once said to me that your conscious experience is as large as your creative mind is. And I believe this to be ever true and it is why the non creative mind must sleep or experience death – this means applying the technique and allowing death in.

    Here are some useful practices and refections that may assist you in allowing death in as the meditative state ushers in.
    For Practice:
    Sitting and watching your breath, eyes closed, visualize a path in which you breathe in and one in where you breathe out. Maybe you see your breath move from the tip of your nose, through your mouth, down your throat and spine to your heart and that is your inhale. And the reverse of that path is your exhale. It never changes. You may not be able to see this path really clear and it may be more of a loose outline. Now, try to make your breath even in length so your inhale and exhale have the same measure – something easy and able. I suggest about 5 counts to each breath in and to each breath out. In time you will see the way the breath moves along the path and you work on keeping your breath smooth and even along this path. The quality is smooth with no sound and in time you will begin to concentrate – so and direct yourself to breathing when you start to meander in thought. Everything comes back to the technique and you are getting really great at concentration and all the things we have discussed.

    After this becomes comfortable to you, maybe in a few sittings or after some time, do the exact same practice. After a few minutes in, drop the counting and control of the breath but keep visual the path in which it moves. You are now allowing the breath to move normal and irregular, as reflected in your breath in a relaxed state, while your mind is still observing the path of the breath. Do not become frustrated if this seems difficult. You may only do this for a moment or two. You can gradually increase this practice as you did the previous one. Ideally, you can pair them, starting with the concentration technique then sliding into the dhyana exercise.

    Something Reflective:
    Imagine that you are seeing water flow in a gentle river. You will see it move fluidly around banks, boulders and carrying sticks and debris. Now put that image of the current flowing easily and around but continuous and see that in your own system. See it as your spine or circulatory systems or as the energy you imagine kundalini to be made of. You may even feel it more than see it. The imagery and energy may command a presence. Or it may be very visual, as if you are actually seeing it move up and down the spine. Rather than highlight all the obstacles of the flow, concentrate on what does flow and what that feels like. And just observe. Become aware of it as is without interruption. Give death to any thoughts that are trying to categorize your experience into words. Observe and allow. Do not let yourself control or claim ownership just sit by the river. Use this technique after practices or as a daily self check-in. Enjoy.

  • Mission Yoga Mentor

    Recently, I had the pleasure to read the LA Yoga Magazine article “Mentors Empower Success for Yoga Teachers,” by Marja Lankinen. A well written piece that touches upon an aspect of mentoring.

    Loosely, looking into the framework of the article, it would be kind to add that mentoring can certainly lead and historically has led to credentialing. Not the credentialing we have come to know in terms of hours regulated by outside governing bodies.

    The credentialing process, classically, teacher to student, is an original format that is worth remembering not only as a continuation of history but for the true transmission is grounding and powerful.

    A stability arises in this transmission process and a perpetual knowledge is retained by the student. This knowledge, passed from sensei to disciple is not only in knowing ‘how to’ but the ‘when to’ and with ‘how much.’ In other words, proper, ‘right knowledge’ is established and a clear route with less tension and obstacles are carved out by the guru.

    This reception and tension taken on by the sadhaka does yield a particular pressure we refer to in hatha raja yoga as ‘tapas.’ Tapas translates ‘to heat.’ When this process begins, transformation not only yields heat or tension, it also brings about a surrendering to the practice. The mere physical nature subsides as mental and emotional catharsis occurs. The transformation can feel more like a transmutation; uncomfortable and foreign. It is here where the student has developed deep trust in the teacher and the teacher is now working with the interpersonal workings of the individual.

    Embracing the mental and emotional changes, though they are not often explained with depth of understanding in training certifications or even in mentoring, are a necessity for development in both teacher and student. We could say that intuition is expanded and harnessed within the connection for both guide and traveler. Further, the students intuition leads to trust and right knowledge and away from goal oriented, course certification only. This is also beneficial for the guide, as teachers we may not even have the ability to attend deeply to the developing need of the student due curriculum unloading required to meet modern credentialing systems.

    No matter how creative, not all practices create the specific changes the student may be looking for or required for them to experience the process of yoga. If yoga is a state in which we enter, it is necessary to see personal development and transformation not just reverence for technique. Nor reference for a process of completion in replace of sound individuality and collective consciousness.

    I am aware that technique yields experience and that awareness extends to the transformational keys that transpire with specific mechanisms of control within technique to arouse one’s self knowledge and power. Regardless, it would be excellent to see not only the techniques revered and polished but the development that comes with them in the actual transformation within a mentorship or training program. It would be great to see the test at the end of the course become the tools brought into living and what comes into play in the fluctuation of life.

    Students and teacher become short-sighted on completing a course rather than gaining knowledge. Defeating the purpose of the process of a true, direct study, that can guide the student through the transformation which comes with not only physical alteration but mental and emotional ones and offer the same to the teacher as both relationships tighten (the become more tied) as it lightens (they are more physical and independent of each other).

    Perhaps as mentors or mentored we can elevate yoga beyond it’s current framework by allowing it become more loose in what it looks like commercially or in credentialing or even mentoring and be tested more in our living and personal areas. Perhaps asking: Does this make me a better person? Am I more complete according to my own standards? What is keeping me away from my full potential? As a teacher maybe we can look deeper into when is it a right time to let this bird fly? The student needs to become independent over becoming a teacher. Yes, they can still be a yogi and have x, y, z for an occupation. They cannot fulfill their life purpose however under the thumb of the teacher nor can the student learn if they do not allow for the guidance.

  • THE SPIRIT

    Consider this section on Spirit from the Sivasamhita translated by SRISCHANDRA BASU, B. A., F. T. S.

    1. All this universe, moveable or immoveable, has come out of Intelligence. Renouncing everything else, take shelter of it (Intelligence).
    2. As space pervades a jar both in and out, similarly within and beyond this ever changing universe there exists one universal Spirit.
    3. As the space pervading the five false states of matter, does not mix with them, so the Spirit does not mix with this ever changing universe.
    4. From gods down to this material universe all are pervaded by one Spirit. There is one Sachchidananda (Existence, Intelligence and Bliss) all-pervading and secondless.
    5. Since it is not illumined by another, therefore self-luminous; and for that self-luminosity, the Spirit is like the light.
    6. Since the Spirit is not limited by time, or space or form, it is therefore infinite, all-pervading and full.
    7. Since the Spirit is unlike this world, which is composed of five states of matter, that are false and subject to destruction, therefore it is eternal. It is never destroyed.
    8. Save and beyond it, there is no other substance, therefore, it is one; without it everything else is false; therefore, it is True Existence.
    9. Since in this world created by ignorance, sorrows are destroyed and happiness gained through it, and through its knowledge immunity from all sorrow ensues; therefore the Spirit is Bliss.
    10. Since from knowledge of that Cause of the universe, ignorance is destroyed, therefore the Spirit is Knowledge; and this Knowledge is everlasting.
    11. That Spirit from which this manifold universe existing in time takes its origin is one, and unthinkable.
    12. Neither ether, air, fire water, earth, their force, nor the gods are full [perfect]; the Spirit alone is so.
    13. All these external substances will perish in the course of time; [but] that Spirit which is indescribable (will exist) without a second.

    Consider this application in practice and living:

    When we go beyond we need an anchor. Anchor within our own self. Even if the self is a small construct of the larger Self. Be it indestructible, beyond measure and quality, of no worldly substance, etc., the ability to acknowledge, the actual acknowledgement of our own existence provides that anchor. If we see that reception of us, the divine within, a fixed point of limitlessness we are less worried, struck or set back by ideals, Gods, concepts, and even the process of transformation. There is no urgency to get to the end nor even be mindful but to empty the mind other than the one thought: I am Intelligence.

  • 7.5 stars for yoga credentialing

    Within most of academia there is a system to measure competency of the student.

    This does not exist in yoga credentialing systems.

    Instead, the emphasis is on the performance of the educator rather than the ability of the student.

    Two-fold this creates a platform for the teacher to walk yielding notoriety when applause is given and pitfall when scorned for not being yogi enough.

    Further, this allows the student to determine what is actually a proper path for them and in turn nothing is learned except a new pattern established in continued internal struggles and a lack of respect for educators.

    Imagine the process of metamorphosis hurried by incision. The wings of the butterfly do not fully develop as the tension in getting out which forces blood into the wings was removed.

    Diligent students make great future educators and leaders. Ones that posses knowledge more than can be measured in 7.5 stars.

  • Self Dedication

    When I began practicing yoga, it was never a given that it would lead to teaching career.

    Most teachers were selected amongst a group of practitioners that were involved in a dedicated practice involving not only classroom study but what eventually would evolve into crafted disciplines, hand-picked assistants and dedicated initiations.

    At that time, as now, we were all in love with yoga. There was a deep love for the guru. We copied them. We ate what they ate, drank what they drank, even copied their speech patterns.

    Seriously, people used to ask me what country I was from.

    That reverence and devotion as a student naturally lead to teaching by selection – the fact that someone asked you to teach was an enchantment of its own. To be chosen to teach came from merit in the practice – self development and devotion.

    I get you cannot capture the essence of yoga on Instagram. I mean, in truth, that which is captured is really not yoga at all. The fact that it can be duplicated makes it questionable alone.

    Please do not mistake my above words to be anti-Instagram or social media or yoga postures. I really do love most of that stuff — the connection, to see people flourish, redefine limitations and to access something that seemed to not exist before.

    I am all about self-development so I follow the path that was not only put before me but one I feel accountable to – the student. Most students that I have encountered in training programs feel overwhelmed, uncertain, trying to sift through material. They are often met with a lack of appreciation for their struggle and the teacher is met with a lack of respect.

    I remember a strong nervousness when first teaching. One that lasted for a couple of years and then gradually went away unless I subbed a class or taught a workshop. I realized much later that I was not nervous out of wanting to be the next new thing however I was very concerned to honor the tradition and spiritual potency of the teachings and to be a proper liaison or steward to the teaching.

  • Kala Kali

    Nothing is beyond Kala except Kali.

    I was swimming – a new hobby of mine – watching my shadow on the pool floor. Working on gliding in the breaststroke, the stretching of the arms reminding me of urdhva hastasana and the idea that when you keep your body too tense your joints push out of line. Whether that line is proper or not there is a balance between effort and ease. A familiar concept yoga practitioners learn in asana practice.

    Now what if I take the shadow in the above scenario and call it Kali. Why not? She is described as dark and beautiful and when you see your shadow gliding along, you want to go to it or even rest in it. So you do. You rest all that tension, all that buoyancy, the air in your lungs, the thoughts in your head and the tension and find that you are finally gliding. Your mind gets proud, you feel your body move again and slowly all the thoughts come back in and you reach, look at your shadow and start over again.

    That discomfort is kala. Time. Not time as in living is difficult or hard or worthless – some illusion that only fools cling to. No. Living is the focal point between Kala and Kali. A point where the two blend – the ability to go beyond and be completely normal.

  • Involved In Living

    December 10, 2016 Will Duprey Uncategorized

    used to know all the names of the song
    now I know the experiences of the words