Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Third Limb - Asana

This month we contemplate the third of Patanjali's Eight Limbs of Yoga:  Asana.

Sloka II.46  Sthira Sukha Asanam

May the posture be steady and comfortable.

  Some translate this to mean only the seated posture for meditation.  Others translate it to mean all of the physical postures (asana) we practice that strengthen, stretch, and open our bodies to the highest vibration which brings us health, well-being, and peace.  Once we practice warming up the body and doing our asana practice to invite subtle body awareness - the ignition of prana, then we are ready physically and mentally to sit for deeper meditation practice.

   We included in our contemplation of asana the following alignment tool from Anusara Yoga.  Below is a picture with the link of the loops to help remind us of their placement and direction so we can continue to practice them on the mat  and off.

Here are the directions to travel the loops as you look at the picture below and some of the cues we use to bring the alignment into the body building from the ground up:

ankle loop - counterclockwise;
shin loop - clockwise - "top of the shin bone forward" ;
thigh loop-counterclockwise - "top of the thigh bone back" ;
pelvic loop- counterclockwise - "root tailbone and draw lower abs up and in" or "draw the waistline back";
kidney loop - clockwise - "puff out the kidneys, draw lower ribs into the back" or "draw the waistline back";
shoulder loop - counterclockwise - "pierce bottom tips of the shoulder blades forward to open the heart and relax shoulders down";
skull loop - clockwise - "draw the sides of the throat back."

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Weekly meditation in Franklin Lakes

Here is the information about the Sangha I often refer to in class.

Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment!
--Thich Nhat Hanh

"Buddhist group meets at church

The Practice Community at Franklin Lakes, a Buddhist practice and meditation sangha, sits from 7-9pm Mondays and 7:30-8:45am Fridays at the Presbyterian Church at Franklin Lakes (soon to be called High Mountian Presbyterian Church), 730 Franklin Lake Road.  The group is affiliated with Thich Nhat Hanh's Community of Interbeing and Blue Cliff Monastery, Pine Bush, NY.

At each zazen there is a dharma talk or reading; guided, walking and silent meditations; sharing of the practice; and dedication of the merits."

Links:    Local monastery in the Plum Village tradition.  Days of Mindfulness are held every Thursday and Sunday.  We talked about choosing a day to plan to go up as a group.   Thich Nhat Hanh's home monastery in France.  This website has links to his dharma talks, songs and chants by the brothers and sisters, and information on retreats and how to support the efforts made by the sangha at large.   This is the site for the magazine put out by the community including lovely articles by the monastic and lay practioners on how they use the practice in their daily lives, dharma talks of Thay transcribed in print, poems and book reviews by the sangha at large. This is the publisher for Thich Nhat Hanh's books.  You can peruse his titles there as well as other authors and purchase on this site.

The Fifth Niyama - Ishwara Pranidhana (Surrender to God)

For the past 10 months we have been contemplating the Yamas and Niyamas from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.  It has been a wonderful practice.  Here are some comments and quotes we shared in our practice of the fifth and final niyama:  Ishwara Pranidhana (Surrender to God) during the month of April.

We listened to our sangha read an article found online from The Purpose Fairy on 15 things you should give up to be happy.  We could make that our next 15 month practice after we finish Patanjali's 8 limbs of yoga.  I posted the article just before this post.  So part of our practice was the idea of surrendering habit energies that keep us imprisoned in our own suffering.

"What can I give up in order to allow something new?" 
- John Woodcock

One of the simplest and most important practices of surrender seems to be surrendering to the present moment, to this breath, to checking in with the body and what is going on in the mind.  By taking a moment to pause and enjoy the stillness, we can witness what is really happening and may find our way to freedom.  It may come right away or we may need to navigate a more challenging path that ultimately will lead us there.

"Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place."
- unknown

"Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.  Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is, to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without noticing it, live your way into the answer."
- Rainer Maria Rilke

"Life must be lived forward, but it can only be understood backward."
- Soren Kierkegaard"

When we allow ourselves to be with what is so in the present moment and meet it with all of our inner resources that may help us to face a challenge or know when to retreat and rest until we're ready, we take ourselves to our edge moment by moment.  We live to our fullest potential because we take time to restore when we need to.  Taking the time to occasionally take a look at how we have grown and see the mastery we have achieved in different areas of our lives, the growth in how we respond to people and approach events, we find the confidence and empowerment we need for the present moment and beyond.

"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself."
- Rumi