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There are always some
clouds in the sky
Some thick, some thin
some low, some high
The stuff in your mind
whatever it may be
likes or dislikes
he or she
Greed or anger
future or past
ambitions or desires
small or vast
You give them the importance
the thicker they become
The longer they stay
louder the mental drum
Light shines through
when the clouds are thin
Even when you lose
you actually win
Keep the clouds thin
you will sing your own song
You will dance, even
when it all goes wrong
Books are filled with songs
But you must sing your own
There is a song in you
hiding in your bone
Singing your own song
is your dharma
Then you act
but there is no karma
Guru Nanak sang his own song
So did Meera
Tulsi sang his own
So did Kabira
Stop relying on books
they may not be true
There is a song in you
my dear, your best clue!
Update on the ‘Healthier Me’ Program.
The ‘Healthier Me’ program is full now.
However, you can still apply for it and I will be happy to notify you when this program is offered again. I am looking forward to working with all those who have registered for this program. Together, we can become healthier.
Please note that there have been some issues with my email lately and, therefore, if you have written to me about this program but haven’t heard from me, please check your spam folder. If my mail is there, please mark it as ‘not spam’ and let me know.
Last month I had also sent a group email to those who had registered for the ‘Vrindavan Calling Yoga Retreat ‘. If you didn’t receive the mail. please check your spam folder and let me know
Third and Fourth Stages of a Seeker’s life
When people go on a vacation, some after a few days look forward to going back home, some wish that they could stay their longer, and then there may be some who like it there so much that they decide to move there.
Similarly, after experiencing the world in a worldly manner and fulfilling one’s worldly responsibilities. one may long for going back home or may continue living the way he has been living.
The third and fourth stages are for those who wish to go back home.
The Third Stage : Vanaprasatha
Vanaprastha literally means moving to a forest.
Unfortunately, so many seekers follow the literal meaning and decide to live like a spiritual wanderer in search of the Truth.
When one lives in a forest, he manages to live on very little. The true meaning of Vanaprasatha, in this context, is to cut back on one’s needs and desires.
This is the stage to:
1. Learn and understand the yogic wisdom properly under the guidance of a Master, and start implementing it in one’s daily life.
2. Give more attention to the practice of Aparigraha (not to accumulate unnecessarily) and Pratayahara ( taking the senses beyond the mind, to the Self)
3. Become more sincere in one’s yogic practices
4. Do more self-less service.
5. Cultivate a practice of remembering God and that one is here temporarily only.
6. Start emptying out the closets in the mind.
The Fourth Stage: Sannyasa
Sannyasa means renunciation but it is not the renunciation of the world, instead, it is the renunciation of the ‘I’, ‘me’, and ‘mine’ which exist in the mind. If one lives the third stage properly as described above, the sannyasa begins to dawn spontaneously, and one enters the fourth stage in a very natural and meaningful way.
Sannyasa is the time to unpack the mind. The mind must become empty before one can go home. Otherwise, the mind keeps creating new worlds with the stuff that remains in the mind. Just as a single seed has the potential of creating a forest, similarly, a single desire felt in the mind can create endless worlds.
Sannyasa is the time to get fully established in the reality of life that, like a dream, it is only a temporary phenomenon. This gives rise to dispassion in one’s mind. It is the true dispassion that removes the mind-stuff and shows one the way to go back home.
In sannyasa, one can gauge his own progress by how much he adores the Creator and admires the creation without desiring for it. A dispassionate seeker whose ‘i’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’ have been dissolved, falls in love with God. If love for God doesn’t dawn in one’s mind, he has missed something on the way. Just as an apple seed when grown properly results in apples, similarly, a proper spiritual journey must result in loving God.
The saying that the spiritual journey is endless is not true. Loving God is the end of one’s journey. When one sees, hears, breathes, touches, and tastes God only, he has arrived home.
Feb 1 – April 10, 2020
In this ten-week online program, you will receive the needed tools, guidance, and inspiration to follow a disciplined lifestyle for making your body healthier, stronger, and more energetic.
Who is the ‘Healthier Me’ program for?
You will benefit from this program if one or more of the following apply to you.
1. You constantly struggle to remain well, fit, and energetic.
2. You are not sure how to take proper care of yourself, or you know what to do but lack the discipline to do it.
3. Your self-confidence and interest have gone down, or you may have given up your effort with this wrong notion that this is how the things are going to remain for you.
4. You have been practicing yoga for a long time but still, you have below-average flexibility and strength.
5. Your body mostly feels tired, heavy, and sluggish.
6. You are considering becoming a yoga teacher but lack the discipline for self-care. This would be a good place to begin.
You must be able to commit daily at least one hour, 5 days a week, for your exercise program.
This program is not for you
- If you are already taking proper care of yourself and you are mostly healthy and fit. However, if you still wish to join this program, you are welcome to apply for it.
- If you cannot commit at least one hour daily for your exercise program.
Disclaimer: Please note that by taking care of your body properly, some of your medical issues may also get better, but the ‘Healthier Me’ program is not a substitute for any medical treatment or attention that you may require.
Main Features of the ‘Healthier Me’ Program
1. Initial consultation on Skype to discuss your current fitness status, and to set practical goals for you.
2. Recommended available free online resources for exercising
3. Skype calls, as needed, to discuss your progress, and to make any needed changes to your program.
4. Guidance for proper nutrition. I will share some of my quick and nutritious recipes with you.
5. Guidance on cooking and eating properly, combined with a few tips for eating a little less and still feeling full and content.
6. Guidance for reducing stubborn pains in the body.
7. Correction of some of your asanas on Skype
8. Guidance for the needed exercise equipment that is practical, easy to use, and inexpensive.
9. You will receive weekly emails from me to inspire and guide you.
10. Some of my audio recordings for exercising
11. I will be with you for the entire duration via emails, phone calls, and Skype.
Only $300.00 (Canadian). It is a small investment that you make for your well-being.
How to register
Please apply by sending me an email with a brief description of yourself and the reasons you want to take this program.
Upon acceptance, you can register on this website.
If interested please write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your Body Is a Temple
Your body is actually not yours. It is a temporary gift to you from God, for you to experience the world and to experience the Divinity within you. It is your responsibility to take care of this Divine gift.
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:
O holy man! Know that
the mind in which
there lies the Truth.
Govinda is the highest
Govinda is the lowest
In between is the play
of His flute
His remembrance alone
With his eyes closed the king was totally absorbed in Govinda. He no longer wanted to be found or be free.
I wish you all a Happy Diwali
It is the day when Lord Rama returned home after completing 14 years of exile, and killing the demon Ravana. We celebrate this special and auspicious day by, listening to Lord Rama’s stories, singing His glories, worshipping Goddess Laxmi (Goddess of Wealth), lighting diyas and candles, exchanging gifts & sweets with friends and relatives, eating many different kinds kinds of sweets, and reflecting on rights and wrongs in our own lives and how we can move from the wrong to the right.
Saint Valmiki wrote the story of Lord Rama, called Ramayana, during Lord Rama’s lifetime, over 10000 years ago. It is a beautiful poem written in Sanskrit.
However, it was the Saint Tulsidas’ version of Ramayana, which he wrote just over 500 years ago, that became very popular with Hindus. It is written in Hindi, also a poem, and is highly devotional. In addition to Ramayna, Saint Tulsidas wrote hundreds of other poems, all very devotional, and mostly dedicated to Lord Rama.
His writings have been a great influence on my life. They make my devotion towards Lord Rama very alive. A couplet from one of his songs is my most favourite, in which he says to Lord Rama.” There are many different types of relationships between You and me, and I am happy with whichever relationship You choose, but please always keep me close to You, at Your Lotus Feet.”
Lord Rama, though present in every heart, is felt and realized only by a devotee. Though the Diwali is about Lord Rama’s returning home, but in fact, a greater Diwali happens when a devotee returns home, and finds that Lord Rama was always there. He never left. He never leaves.
May your life be filled with sweetness!
Last month I conducted the Art of Living Therapeutic Yoga Retreat in beautiful Langkawi, Malaysia. In this picture, it is Lay Hwa on my left, and Zok Lim on my right, both with the help of many others made the Yoga Retreat a great success. Zok Lim’s sankalpa was to get 150 people for the retreat, and she managed to get 201. She was always one step ahead of me. Whenever I wrote to her about something that needed to be done. She replied immediately ‘already done’:)
During the past fifteen years I have been fortunate to meet many such beautiful people who have helped me in taking yoga to their countries and around the globe. All these yogis are filled with amazing enthusiasm, energy, determination, organizing skills, and passion for yoga. I am so grateful to them all. With their help I have experienced different dimensions of yoga, and oneness in diversity.
SAHC (Strengthening and Healing Contractions): Pronounced as ‘Saahsee’
It is a technique we teach in AOL Yoga Level 2 course and Therapeutic Yoga Retreat. It is a very powerful technique with amazing benefits that people have reported. People often ask me how this technique was developed.
I believe it was in 2010, when I was teaching the 1st AOL Yoga Level 2 course in Gujarat ashram and was having some issues with my right knee. One evening as I was doing knee exercises, I discovered that contracting and relaxing my hamstrings and quadriceps several times was very helpful in reducing the knee pain. That was the basis for developing SAHC. Next day I introduced SAHC in Level 2 course in Gujarat, and fully developed it as a physical and spiritual practice during the next Level 2 course in Kerala.
Of course, all good things happen with the Divine grace. For me, there is no difference between Guru, God and mySelf. They all reside in me as One. My yoga comes from this One Consciousness.
I consider the 5 Yamas and 5 Niyamas to be the two most important limbs among the Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga. The Yamas and Niyamas, a mix of ethics and restraints, are the needed foundation for one’s yoga journey. They are the pillars of yoga. But unfortunately their importance is not emphasized in most yoga classes, and many yoga students have not even heard of them.
The 5 Yamas are: Ahimsa (Non-violence), Satya (Truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (abiding in Self, moderation in sensual pleasures), Aparigraha (non-accumulation).
The 5 Niyamas are: Saucha (Cleanliness and purity), Santosha (Contentment), Tapas ( Self-discipline that includes service and sacrifice), Svadhyaya (study of the Self), Ishvara Pranidhana (Honoring the Divine with gratefulness and surrender)
For a clear understanding of Yamas and Niyamas, I highly recommend listening to my spiritual master Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (www.artofliving.org)
Today I have been contemplating on Satya, wondering how truthful I have been and how I can become better!
Truth is not in the words, instead it lies in the intention behind your words and actions. You may be speaking truth by words, but if your intention is to hurt someone or to obtain a selfish gain, then you are not being truthful. Only you know your intentions. A yogi is very mindful of his intentions.
I know, at times, it can be quite challenging to follow Ahimsa, Satya or other principles of yoga . Some situations may demand an action that is against the principles of yoga. In such situations, according to Bhagvad Gita, as long as your intentions are clean, you must take the needed action, but not let the action and its fruit affect you.
You need a master who can teach you this skill by example. I feel blessed to have one. I have learnt so much just by observing Him. He is so active in the world and yet His mind is so still. His intentions are clean. Only a still and truthful mind can be so compassionate.
During Navaratri I encourgae you to contemplate on Yamas and Niyamas and see where you need to improve.
Without feeling discouraged, happily continue…. 🙂
I will do the same.