Posted in Book Reviews, Featured

“Threads of Yoga” In Retrospect

Threads of Yoga : a remix of patanjali-s sutra-s, with commentary and reverie By Mr. Matthew S Remski 

 

When one is presented with the word “yoga” an infinite variety of images are summoned depending on the individual.  From spiritual jazzercise to religion; yoga has many facades. The book “Threads” reveals that yoga goes far beyond the asanas. Yoga has managed to transcend its formal rigidity and has morphed into a chameleon like movement. People from all walks of life have been able to embrace at least one of the many avenues of yoga.  Mathew Remski introduces his book as a “remix of an ancient text”. The author breaks down each of the padas, or feet of Patanjali’s sutras. Here he offers his own perspective on this ancient text. He has created a “roadmap” for the modern day practitioner. 

Yoga’s emphasis on self inquiry makes it unique in the global theological pool. Yoga does not rely on a grand deity for salvation. Salvation is traded for self realization. This in turn brings forth a life of peace and fulfillment. “The chatter of consciousness is indeed problematic”. It is “vulnerable to a kind of arrested development.” Avoiding the present moment by spinning in the future or past landscapes stunts our ability to grow and remain conscious. Desire nature is traded for self awareness and acknowledgement of our personal responsibility. How have I chosen this reality for myself? Pain in all aspects emerges from an imbalance within. There is no such thing as perfection. Therefore jealousy and ruthlessness literally disintegrate.

The eight limbs of yoga are a quilted foundation for finding this balanced stillness of self.  One step is no more important than the other. Every limb is dependent on the other. This relationship is most prevalent on the mat. The striving for perfection in a pose is not the point of the asanas. The asanas are one piece to the puzzle. We move our bodies through these poses clearing energetic space and aligning physically. Pranayama, sacred breath work, aids in this practice. Often the yamas and niyamas are present in our conscious thought as we shift this energy through our bodies. It is a process that is ever flowing. What are we ultimately working toward? It is simply finding comfort in the now. Discomfort in the body becomes a subtle nuance. The mind is quiet and floating like a steady wave. If we are lucky we arrive in a blissful state that I have yet been able to describe. This space is not stagnant. The process repeated does not always deliver the same results. It is fine tuning to the sacred om. 

The subject of meditation is dense, intense and very dependent on individual perspectives. Does this state grant god like qualities to the practitioner? Is meditation another form of escaping an unsavory reality? Are we accessing higher planes of existence and communicating with fantastic forces? What is the purpose of meditation practice? Again we must question; what are we attempting to accomplish here?  The other states that we are choosing to “enter an evolutionary new internal space.” Just as a scientist observes her DNA; realizing that every bit of her being stems from it, we too observe this inside of ourselves. The author warns of a superiority complex that many fall into when delving into this mindful state. The structured methodology that so many systems have put into place create a hierarchy of sorts. Yoga teaches us that this too is not the true path. 

Karma or Samskara is said to be the seeds of past actions planted and obstructing one to move forward consciously. When we are constantly repeating patterns of the past we are fragmented. These seeds can be difficult to penetrate, much like our repressed impulses. Through meditation we are able to bring light into our dark underworld. We quiet the senses and observe ourselves in our human state. Detached from judgement we see ourselves as flesh and blood, ebbing and flowing in our life force.  We flow through our mind without judgement. We observe our experience and where we have come. We are looking at the motivation and what came of it. The stillness allows anxiety to melt away and rigidity becomes softness. We are allowing ourselves to integrate. This is how I perceive the practice of meditation. 

The overflow that follows Pada three is the “sweetness” we crave. This sensation is what we pursue, the momentary satisfaction of so many things. It drives us. Duality that is so natural to our minds feeds the hunt for satiation. You and I, good and bad, hard and soft. These examples are nearly infinite. The blurring of barriers brings unification within. We must integrate the light and darkness within ourselves before we can truly appreciate the other. How can you love another without first accepting yourself? It is a process that is never ending. With yoga there are few rules. It is a map created by the individual.

Posted in Book Reviews, Featured

Reviewing the Bhagavad Gita

Midge Photo credit @twoawong Allen Wong 2017

A pocket sized book that carries a powerful punch. The Gita will undoubtedly stir something inside those who choose to explore its pages.

In the Bhagavad Gita we are transported to a battlefield. Two opposing forces approach one another. Much care is given to describe the nature of the two warring parties. The readers attention is smoothly directed to the two individuals observing the scene. The author introduces the reader to Krishna and his counterpart Arjuna. At this point the Gita begins. The battle scene seems to be no more than a catalyst for a truly deep and profound conversation that delves into the human psyche. Arjuna begins with “ I see my own kinsmen gathered here, eager to fight,” “ Krishna ; no good can come from killing my own kinsmen in battle.”

     Arjuna expresses his understanding that the opposition does desire his destruction but he does not wish to do them harm. He views the other party as his kinsmen and would forgo “kinship of the three worlds” to avoid bloodshed. Krishna speaks of the desire nature that is seeded by anger. Desire originates from “ the guna called rajas ; deadly and all devouring, that is the enemy here.” Krishna goes on to say that “As fire is observed by smoke “So wisdom is observed by desire.” The desire nature is similar to the anima self, the physical sensing self. If one can discipline the mind to overcome the senses the truth will be revealed. “When desire, fear and anger have left him, that man is forever free.”

     How does one begin this journey of overcoming the powerful grip of the anima?  Meditation and self analysis are the most powerful first steps according to the Gita. Practicing the yoga of meditation leads to detachment from outcomes. The practitioner is then able to bring their focus inward. What inevitably happens is a quieting of the mind, alignment of the body and connection to the soul. This is where the true work of yoga begins. Here in this space the practitioner is able to discern between what is true to self and what can be released. Through this practice the yogi is able to face who they truly are and if they choose they can embrace and become that higher self. 

     The deity Krishna reveals that he is all consciousness, divine and mundane. He is “ the ritual and the worship”. “I am death and the deathless, and all that is and is not”. He is Arjuna. To love Krishna is to love the self. To know Krishna is to know the self and all that is and is not. Through individuation the divine is able to experience itself on infinite levels. In a sense yoga is a process of healing an illness. The illness being the desire nature that plagues our collective consciousness. As we heal our desire nature and find alignment with what truly serves us as a collective we then find our source, that luminescent well of light. Control is merely an illusion and our true purpose is to pulse vitality and light into the world cup. 

     The poetic verses that fill the pages of Bhagavad Gita relay the most pure and simple message that we are all one being. We are one frequency of energy trying to harmonize to the sacred Om. We are the sacred lotus that emerges from the murky depths of the earth. We are our mother, mentor and enemy. This book is the account of the divine’s travel through meditation. It is the collective reflecting on itself and the human experience. It is both complex and simple, a true paradox. What do we need to let go of? What no longer serves us in our existence? What will ultimately bring harmony to our song on this planet? The answer is another paradox, both simple and complex. There isn’t a concrete answer. It is a mixture of unification and individuation. We come together to create and separate to grow. The answer is a never ending dance that pulses and grows to greater heights as we evolve. It is a seemingly impossible feat when approached as a destination. Yoga is the dance that leads to many journeys. 

I hope to see you along that road headed toward the light.