A skilled yogi blossoms even while living in the three gunas, just as a lotus flower blossoms in muddy waters.

Don’t Neglect Your Back and Neck

Most yoga practitioners don’t do enough asanas to strengthen their back and neck muscles. That’s why even after practicing yoga for several years many experience back and neck pain, and many are not able to sit straight for more than a few minutes without a support.
There is a lot of emphasize placed on strengthening the abdominal muscles but not so much on strengthening the back muscles which are equally important and even more crucial for a seeker, as the health of one’s back, spine, and neck affects the flow of prana and rise of kundalini energy.
It is important that you learn a few asanas and other exercises for strengthening your back and neck muscles and incorporate them in your daily practice. Learning has become very easy these days. You can find many exercises online for any part of the body. It is okay to learn asanas online and from books, but not other yogic practices such as pranayama and meditation which should only be learnt from an experienced yoga teacher. However, even the asanas, when you can, learn from a yoga teacher for a better understanding and experience.

Asanas are a great way to improve flexibility as well as strength. The same asana can do both if you know the skill. A proper and advanced practice of pranayama and bandhas can also improve the overall health of your back and spine. I will be teaching all these in my upcoming course in Vrindavan in November.

 

Will I Ever Be Free!

King Abhaya asked Sage Anidra,” O Holy Sage! Why most seekers don’t succeed in finding themselves even after many years of continuous and sincere effort? I keep wondering if I will ever find myself and will I ever be free? At times I do experience freedom but it is short lived. Why is so? I humbly request you to guide me and many others like me.”

Hearing the questions, Anidra remembered an old story at which He chuckled briefly and replied,” There is an ancient legend. A woman was searching for her lost needle under a street light in front of her house. After searching for a long time and not finding the needle she became frustrated and asked a passing-by man for help. The man asked her where had she lost the needle? The woman replied she had lost it inside the house. Being surprised, the man asked why then she was looking for it outside? The woman replied that because there was more light outside.
Such is the case with the seekers. They have lost themselves in the world but they are searching for themselves by running away from the world. They have lost themselves outward but they are searching inward. Would the woman ever find her needle regardless of how sincere her search is?
Look into your mind Abhaya. Recognize the continuous rise and fall of six uncontrollable waves, the arishadvargas, which are desires, anger, greed, attachment, ego, and jealousy. These are the worldly passions and obsessions in which you are lost. They have bound you, and you have been bound for so long that becoming bound has become normal for you, just like for a bird being in a cage.

The bird may think and imagine about being free, but the truth is that the bird feels most safe and comfortable in its cage. The cage has become its home. Similarly, you talk about wanting to be free but the truth is that you like being in your cage. That’s where you feel most safe and comfortable. All your practices and austerities that you do, you do them while remaining in your cage. As long as you remain in your cage, the sincerity and duration of your practices are of very little use.

The owner of the bird may sometimes open the cage and let the bird fly within the walls of the house. The bird may feel that it has become free, but has it? Similarly. your owner, the mind, at times expands your cage, and you experience some freedom. The freedom, however, is short lived and ends in frustration when you find yourself bound again.

This cage, made of arishadavargas, is so strong that it cannot be broken by any means, neither renunciation nor any practices. Can a bird break a cage made of steel?
But Abhaya, there is a way for those who truly wish to be free. On the cage there is a hidden locked door. Proper wisdom is the way to see the door, and proper skill is the means to unlock the door. Your Sadguru alone can give you the proper wisdom, and teach you the skill.
With self-effort you master the skill and unlock yourself out of the cage. Your mind, however, who is very clever and skilled, captures you again and again, and in a playful manner you free yourself again and again until the arishadavargas‌ lose their affect on you. Then you are free even while living among the arishadavargas, just as a lotus flower blossoms even in muddy waters.”
Saying that, Anidra became silent. The king wanted to hear more, but seeing that Anidra wished to be silent, he remained quiet.

Anidra picked up his flute but before He played it, He looked at Abhaya and said,” There is another way, the simplest and easiest of all. Make Govinda your own. Love Him with your body, mind, and soul. Have all your relationships with Him alone. Whatever you do, do it for Him. Then nothing can ever bind you except Govinda Himserlf.”

The Sage closed His eyes and played a song on His flute which meant:

जिस मन गोविंद अ।न बस।ई
सो मन स।धो स।च कह।ई
सबही से ऊँचो, सबही से नीचो
माधव मुरली खेलत बीचो
भज गोविंदम भज गोविंदम
गोविंदम भज, आनंन्द आई

O holy man! Know that
the mind in which
Govinda resides
there lies the Truth.
Govinda is the highest
Govinda is the lowest
In between is the play
of His flute
Remember
Govinda
ceaselessly
His remembrance alone
brings bliss.

With his eyes closed the king was totally absorbed in Govinda. He no longer wanted to be found or be free.

 

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