Every one wants to feel good, to be fully alive. Unfortunately, few of us realize the work involved in attaining that goal. The reality is that only we can do that for ourselves. If we rely on others for our health, on outside influences, on stimulants to make us happy, we rob ourselves or truly knowing total joy. Worse, we become slaves and we become dependent. Yoga is our opportunity to become a totally healthy, happy, complete individual. Yoga helps you to realize all that is already yours. All yoga does is bring it forth, to make you aware of it. You can have what you are seeking, if you only stay with it.
Over these next ten weeks we will be reviewing a lot of postures that we’ve already had. We’ll be learning a lot of new postures – at least one new one each week – except for this week. We’ll be increasing our breathing capacity. We’ll learning new ways to relax and new ways to meditate.
What is your aim, your goal, your desire? Your simplest answer would probably be to be healthy, to be happy. Some of us think we know what that means. Sadly, most of us don’t really know. It’s nothing like we have imagined it to be or have even been told what it is. A lot of times we have been fooled and misled and we have simply followed the wrong path. We have allowed ourselves to be led by outside influences and by our own ego. But, the ego is really not to blame. It doesn’t know as much as our inner self. The ego’s capacity for knowing can only go to the extent of its limits. I know that your ego and others have told you that happiness is made up of material wealth, success, fame. I hate to burst the bubble, but it’s not for total, lasting completeness. This is not to say that you can’t enjoy these things if they come your way. Of course you can enjoy them. But, do not think that the little appetizers of life are the full of course. They are the small parts of the feast that awaits you. The lavish, magnificent banquet of life lies before you.
Our aim here is to help you to find the same things, before it’s too late. It always amazes me how people travel to distant places to witness miracles, when they stand each day, each moment, amid countless miracles. Every leaf that pops out on a tree is a small miracle. Just look around you. Could you have thought of the thousands of different things around you and the intricate workings of each one? How about night turning into day, the sunrise, the seasons, all those stars up there? The delicate spider’s web, a fish’s grills, the lines in your hand – all are different! Fantastic! And we take it all for granted, even if we notice at all, and so miss life and its simple joys. So our aim, our job, our goal for the next ten weeks is to do our postures with awareness; to breathe properly; to relax totally, and to become more attuned to life around and within us, as we can be truly happy.
With that thought in mind, let us begin. We’re going to start by breathing. Inhaling, pushing the stomach out. Exhaling, pulling the stomach in. Keeping your eyes closed to shut out the thoughts of the day, all the stress. Let’s just sit and breathe for a moment, and then, we’ll do our postures.
This first week is devoted to a review of postures we have already had. There are no new postures. With the practice of continuities, you are learning to practice postures in a particular order that allows you to achieve a continual flow of movement. One group may all be performed from a lying or prone position; the next group may be those of a standing position; the third group may be postures in a sitting position. The order of the types of groups will change from week to week. In some weeks, depending on the complexity of the new postures and time involved, we may only have two sets of continuities.
Some of the postures we do in continuities are very basic and primarily for beginners. Let me just say that we are all beginners in the sense that we are learning all the time.
Now close your eyes and just sir for a moment. Remind yourself gently and there is nothing more important than just being, right here, right now, totally in the present moment, aware, attentive, accepting. Be fully open to this moment, this experience. Awake and aware, paused and peaceful, content and contained to what is present in this moment. Give yourself permission to be fully open to all that this moment, alive to the now. Keep your breathing relaxed, flowing smoothly, effortlessly, ever so peaceful; in and out, in and out, unforced. Allow it its own rhythm.
Imagine yourself sitting in a huge circle, right in the center. Understand the significance of a circle. In nature, the circle is the law of ultimate growth – the day to day, light to dark, sun to rain, season to season, life to death, to new life again. The cycle goes on, growth goes on, the universe continues.
The planets orbit in a circle. The American Indians’ Medicine Wheel is a circle. For the Zen Buddhist, a circle means the opening of enlightenment. The symbol of Taoism is the circle of yin and yang, the percent balance of harmony in all things. Even our dogs and cats circle about before lying down to peaceful rest.
In a circle, all things are equal; none come before or after the next; none has a better vantage point than the next. All are in the flow, yet with nowhere to go, for each is constantly arriving home in the present moment.
You are an important part of that circle encompassing many individual rivulets merging into the great ocean, or a magnificent diamond with its many facets sparkling as one great light. Know that now, as you sit quietly. For just a few moments, give that circle of great light vibration by humming gently to yourself. When you are filled with that vibration, you may lie down, eyelids closed gently, body relaxed even on the floor, released and relaxed totally.
Always continue to unfold the master within you, take control of your life physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Have faith in yourself! Changing moment to moment – and letting that change be a new growth, a new understanding, a new completeness of your real self – you are living fully. You can do it! You are limited only by your thoughts, so change them. Start each day with a positive thought, a loving thought. Remind yourself that you are loved, loving, lovable, and see if the day doesn’t go better for you.
At times, you might fail and fall into forgetting, but you will also awaken again, and each time you remember, the delight in your heart will explode into a million twinkling stars. But don’t wait for this perfection to happen before you start to really enjoy life. Celebrate yourself now for the giant step you have already taken. Applaud yourself, give yourself a party, if you wish. Dance in the streets, kick up your heels, throw your head back and laugh aloud! Don’t forget to take a bow. Realize you are not a beggar at the table of life; you are an honored guest!
Let your five senses come alive, more aware. Try to really see objects, not just your impression of them; really hear sounds, not what you name them; let the nose experience smell; let your touch have the sensitivity of the things around you; witness your taste. Why? Because experiencing reality teaches us awareness, to stay with this moment, and it gets us out of ourselves and more into the oneness of all else. It is pleasurable, calming, and growing. It helps us back to our naturalness of being. When we begin to experience and realize our oneness with everything there’s less need for formal meditation, for the results of this experiencing reality is in and of itself a peaceful, joyful state of being. Again, the most advantageous place to experience reality is outdoors: absorb it, be absorbed by it. Knowledge, or true wisdom, is in the experience of life as it is. It is never authentically obtained from books or even from listening to others. My message to you is learn to use your senses. Learn to have an awareness of now, to be silent, to trust yourself. No one can give you any more than you already have and already are. At best, they can only teach you how to become aware of it. The effect, the reward is totally yours. Remember, your search for the paradise of life will be in your attitude, not in the destination. When you stop looking, you will really see!
We come to the end of another growing period. Adjust yourself comfortably, sitting firmly as a mountain, eyes softly closed, breathing relaxed. Now picture the houses and other living quarters around your own. If you are lucky enough to live in the country or the woods, without a lot of neighbors, then include all the places the animals live in as well as your far-flung neighbors. See in your mind all the beings living around you, doing the different things they do. Connect with them, not analyzing or judging. You are an extension of them. Imagine a golden cord passing from you to each being around you. Through that cord beats one pulse.
The original source of your being is one. Let us make that oneness sing with a few rounds of the one OM. Inhale and let it vibrate in you and through you, going through the golden cord to all around you. When you hear OM, remember what it means: OM is awakening to the Divinity that we are, absolute love, the beingness of total soul. Intone OM until the golden light fills you and then rest quietly. Thank everyone for being alive; thank yourself! Gradually return your awareness to the room and rest.
Change is possible. You only need to change your thought. You have learned to unfold and enfold, casting out the old and embracing the new. You’re learning to love yourself, you have become more loving and more loveable. The world needs that; it needs the uniqueness of you. You are a very special part of the whole universal plan, one that would be out of balance If there were no you. Every part of you is important, from the breath you send out, to the thoughts you send forth, to your movement upon this earth. Keep that movement centered and balanced; sure footed but light as the wind! Learn to say “yes!” to now and all the nows, and you will find peace and that joy you thought was outside yourself. Mindfulness and simplicity in life should be your goal. Then, one day, enlightenment will just happen when you least except it, but only when you have readied yourself for it. You are nearing your readiness; do not turn back now!
Our moods and our needs change. You way of reaching peace is unique to your own needs. By learning a variety of so-called ways to meditate, you will hopefully find at least one from that is successful for you. However, you should try to always remember that the doorway to all of these methods is the control of the breath; there is no passage, no entering the true state without it. All openings to meditation are made accessible by the breath.
Sit comfortably erect with your eyes closed. In this exercise, we will use sound. Choose your own personal mantra. The most popular is OM. You may wish to simply use OH or AH.