• 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

  • write clearly

    November 23, 2016 Will Duprey Uncategorized

    A homeless man came up to me, through a leg upon the large, concrete block I was sitting on, looked at me with permanent shiftless eyes, rested elbow to his knee and looked at me.
    “Can I help you,” I asked, not in a polite way or the way I do when interviewing some of the fellas that I have befriended interviewing in Devil’s Triangle.
    “I dunno know,” he replied and looked as if trying to look through me.
    I looked down, jotted something of no substance, agitated by his aggressive approach. There was something about it that made me feel vulnerable or wanting to defend myself initially.
    “Why do you write?”
    I don’t even remember my reply.
    “Is your mind clear?”
    I hesitated to answer, to which he said, “Too long to answer!” and “I used to write, in the past. Before this life. Now, I think it’s bullshit” and he smiled and laughed. “Cubans are crazy!”
    Neither agreeing or disagreeing but smiling, I asked, “Is your mind clear?”
    “Yes.”
    “That person walking by, with his friend, what do you think he is thinking about? What’s going on his mind?”
    He replied, “I dunno.”
    “He’s thinking about life, the world, acquiring things, false happiness, women, work and all the things external to his own self content,” I said.
    He looked at me.
    “That’s why I write.”
    He shook my hand, hugged me and I rode my bike through town.

  • for Someone

    September 17, 2016 Will Duprey Uncategorized

    together again
    in time –
    Her mouth
    flooded with stars
    Galaxies
    In her thighs
    My hands
    stir the universe
    _wd
    #śivadasa

            (for someone)