A Layman’s Guide to Mindful Meditation

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A Layman’s Guide to Mindful Meditation

“Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as bird wings.” ~ Rumi

Here’s the thing: we all know we should meditate, right? Even conventional doctors are informing us about the huge benefits of meditation. But how do we go about doing it exactly? And does it really matter how we do it?

When it comes down to it, meditation can be as simple, or as complex, as we want it to be. There’s a myriad of styles. Some are faux pas. Some are cliché. Some are even down-right silly. And I’ll go more into these various styles in later articles. But when we really get down to the crux of the matter, meditation is essentially about one thing that can be broken up into a myriad of things: Presence. Being present to the moment is the umbrella that all things mindful fall below. But what is it about this “moment” that is so important? Why is all this fuss about the “here and now”?

All of life is a moving meditation. The universe itself is a vibrating orchestra of varying frequencies (or collapsing wave functions) all in superposition with each other. Essentially, meditation is the act of familiarizing, or re-familiarizing, ourselves with our own unique contribution to this orchestra. Learning how to meditate is nothing short of becoming present to the inter-connectedness of all things. When we meditate we come to realize that we are both the seer and the seen. We are an extension of the universe becoming aware of itself. This is the importance of presence. Being in the moment, and especially being quiet and listening to what the moment has to say, is the foundation of healthy, mindful meditation.

So if our goal is to achieve presence with the vibration of the universe, and presence is about being in the moment and familiarizing ourselves with the current state of our mind-body-soul, then how do we actually do it?

We do it by finding a sacred “place” to “perform” our meditation. It can be anywhere. It can be in a peaceful, natural setting or a quiet room. It can be in a crowded mall. It can even be in a schoolyard with a thousand kids screaming their little-kid head’s off. Obviously, if you’re just beginning, a quiet place is preferable, but it can be done just about anywhere. The point is the meditation place is inside us. The key to mindfulness isn’t necessarily about discovering peace and quiet “out there.” It’s primarily about discovering peace and quiet “in here.”

The main purpose for resonating with this sacred vibration is to nix the overreach of the Ego. When we practice mindful meditation we are practicing getting out of our own way. When we nix Pride and small-mindedness, we free ourselves to unfold the Spirit Lotus, to kick open the third-eye (or ajna chakra), and to awaken the mysteries that have been hiding within. Having done this, we open ourselves up to a torrent of creative energy that comes pouring down into our pineal gland. A super-flow experience occurs that takes us out of small mind and launches us into Big Mind. This energy is a raw current that transports us to the “Transformation Place.” It’s a place where all cosmic knowledge is stored, and where the sacred Akashic Records are held. Here, we are free to trump our selfish “being” with interconnected “becoming.”

At the end of the day, meditation helps us to take a step back and get a different perspective. It helps us realize that we may not be able to change everything, but we can change the way we experience things. The key to tricking our “being” into “becoming” is to search for the cracks between light and dark, between chaos and order, between inhalation and exhalation, and to vibrate there with the cosmos; so as to become the type of Promethean person who can steal fire from the gods and then share it with the rest of us.

When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? Not texting, talking or even thinking? Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of doing just that: Refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment.

Om Namah Shivay

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Yoga And Meditation

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Yoga And Meditation

The practice of yoga and meditation has become increasingly popular in the past few years, but I am sure that there are many people who are still asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?” So, if you have been wondering whether it would be worth your time to start practicing yoga and meditation, I would like to give you five good reasons why it would be a very worthwhile activity for you.

1. Yoga and meditation will improve your health

Yoga postures put gentle pressure on the internal organs of the body and help them to function properly. In particular the postures help your digestive system to work smoothly and thus avoid problems such as constipation, acidity and indigestion, which are common conditions that can lead to more serious problems later on. Meditation and deep relaxation can be just what you need to lower your blood pressure. Thus, yoga postures plus meditation is a great combination for maintaining and improving health.

2. Yoga and meditation will help you to overcome bad habits

What’s a “bad habit?” It’s something that you are doing continually, and something that you know is harming you but you can’t stop it. Are you smoking now? Maybe you thought it was good when you started, but you would now like to stop. The trouble is that it is not so easy to quit smoking or a similar habit once it has become established.

This is where yoga and meditation can help you out. The yoga postures help you to become more relaxed and mentally balanced. Meditation can help you to concentrate your mind and build up your will-power. Once you become internally balanced and have a stronger will power, it will become possible for you to break any habit, even one that you have been troubled by for many years.

3. Yoga and meditation will help you to lose weight

Obesity is one of the biggest health problems of the modern era. Our lives have become more sedentary and our food sources have changed over the last 100 years and this why many adults and even children are now overweight.

Although this is a life-style problem, it is something that can be dealt with. The surest way to lose weight is to get more exercise and to control what you are eating. This is of course, easier said than done. But yoga and meditation can help you out. There are some yoga postures that are helpful in weight loss programs. Similarly, the mental strength that you can get from both yoga postures and from meditation can help you to gain a better control over your diet and this can result in healthy and permanent weight loss.

4. Yoga and meditation will bring you inner peace

You may be earning a lot of money and you may have a lot of social prestige but is physical or social wealth the goal of your life? Whatever material or social wealth you have, if you are not contented, satisfied and at peace with yourself then you will not be a happy person.

The goal of meditation is to help you find the inner core of your being. Who are you? Is it the name and address on your identity card? If you start meditating you will find that deep within you is a pool of infinite love and peace. This is the real you. If you can reach this place, then you will find peace and contentment; it is guaranteed!

5. Yoga and meditation will make you a wiser person

Every one of us has made mistakes that we regret. There is nothing we can do about the past. We can’t go back in time and not make the mistakes. But what we can do is to build up our capacity to see what has permanent value and what is transitory. When we attain this state of discrimination, then we will not do actions that we will regret later on.

Meditation helps a person to go beyond the “chatter” of the mind and attain a state of wisdom that will always be of help. Wisdom does not mean stuffing your mind with “facts” but it does mean to have a mind that will choose a course of action that brings about the welfare of everyone.

Om Namah Shivay

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Hand Postures (Hast Mudra)-2

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Hand Postures (Hast Mudra)-2

5. Prana Mudra or the Mudra of Life

In this Mudra the tips of the thumb,ring finger and the little finger are touched together while keeping the other 2 fingers straight.

Benefits:

A. It awakens the dormant power of prana gives energy,health . It is beneficial in diseases of the eye and improves eyesight, raises body resistance to disease, reduces deficiency of vitamins, removes tiredness.
B.During fasting it reduces hunger pangs and thirst.
C.In insomnia, doing this hand posture, along with Gyan Mudra, helps in bringing on sleep.

6. Apan Mudra or the Mudra of Digestion

This mudra is made by joining the tips of the thumb, the middle finger and the ring finger keeping the other fingers straight. Benefits: A. Toxins are removed from the body and the body becomes pure. It also relieves constipation, piles, diseases caused by vayu or air, is helpful in diabetes, stoppage of urine,kidney defects and dental problems.
B. It is beneficial in stomach and heart diseases and brings out perspiration.
Please Note: It increases the flow of urine.

7. Apan Vayu Mudra or the Mudra of Heart.

This Mudra is a combination of Vayu Mudra and Apan Mudra. The tips of the thumbs,the middle finger and the ring finger touch each other while the index finger touches the base of the thumb with a slight pressure. The little finger remains straight.

Benefits:

IT gives the benefit of Apan Mudra and Vayu Mudra as explained earlier.

A. It is helpful in Heart and Vayu diseases and gives health. People with a weak heart should do it daily. It is very beneficial to people who have just had a heart attack.
B. It removes gas from the stomach,aids in asthma,headache and high blood pressure.
C. If it is done 5 to 7 minutes before climbing stairs,it aids in easy climbing.

8. Surya Mudra or Mudra of the Sun

This Mudra is done by touching the tip of the ring finger to the base of the thumb and exerting pressure on the finger with the thumb as in the picture.

Benefits: A. It balances the body,reduces body weight and obesity. It increases body heat and helps in digestion.
B.It reduces hypertension and cholesterol and builds strength.
C.It is beneficial in diabetes and liver defects.

Precautions: Weak persons should not do this hand posture and DO NOT do this hand posture for a long time in hot weather.

9. Varun Mudra or Mudra of Water
This Mudra is made by touching the tips of the thumb and the little finger.

Benefits

A. It reduces dryness of the skin and improves skin lustre and softness.
B It is useful in Skin diseases ,acne and blood defects . It improves facial beauty.
Precautions :Persons suffering from Asthma and respiratory problems should do this Mudra for a short duration only.

10. Ling Mudra or the Mudra of Heat

Cloes the fist as in the picture.Keep the left hand thumb straight and the rest of the fingers clasped as shown in the picture.

Benefits
A. This mudra increases heat in the body and can cause sweating even in winter if done for a long time.
B. It helps in cold, coryza, asthma, cough, sinus problems and low blood pressure.
C. It dries phlegm.
Precautions : When doing this Mudra please increase in take of water, fruit, fruit juices,clarified butter (Ghee) and milk.
DO NOT do this hand posture for a long duration.

# Concluding Remarks : These are the 10 Hast Mudras which if done regularly, for the prescribed duration and following the outlined precautions will be extremely beneficial to one’s health. –

Om Namah Shivay

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YOGA MYTHS

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ANANDMURTI GURUMAA debunks several yoga myths that are being circulated by ignorant practitioners

The global renaissance of ‘yoga’ has the potential to become a radical movement — perhaps a quantum leap in human evolution, the proviso however being that one clearly understands what it actually means.While the impression is that there is a universal renewed interest in ‘yoga’, the revival is mostly confined to asanas alone. When jiva or microcosmic consciousness unites with the all-pervading Ishwara or macrocosmic consciousness, this union is known as yoga. It is the state where the mind dissolves in the real Self and all samskaras or seeds of past impressions get burnt in the incandescent fire of Self-realisation. It is the pinnacle of inner evolution succinctly described by Sage Patanjali in his well-known aphorism: yogash chitta vritti nirodhah. Yoga is the ultimate destination of a human being’s evolutionary journey. And there are several paths that one can tread with this intention.

The prevailing, resurgent interest in asanas is just one part of Ashtanga Yoga which is an eight-stepped ladder with the ascending rungs of yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and culminating in the highest point of samadhi. And the most celebrated text outlining its precepts is Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

Yama refers to the five moral codes of conduct whilst interacting with others: satya — truthfulness in thoughts, speech and actions; ahimsa— nonviolence in thought, speech and actions; asteya — nonstealing;aparigraha — nonhoarding and brahmacharya— at the physical level it refers to celibacy and for householders, it means fidelity.

Niyama refers to the five self-disciplinary codes: shaucha — cleanliness of body, external environment and mind; santosha — being content with one’s life, accepting everything without discrimination; tapah — austerity;svadhyaya — to be established in the real Self but it also refers to self-learning through scriptural texts and ishwarpranidhana— forsaking one’s ego and being totally surrendered to God’s will.

Asana has neither got anything to do with body contortion, acrobatics or gymnastics, nor is it physical exercise. Many people mistakenly think that they don’t need to learn asanas because they are already going to the gym or doing aerobic exercises. See, such exercises stimulate catabolism. So, although you achieve an athletic, sculpted look,your energy gets drained. Then people consume energy enhancing drinks which are laced with harmful chemicals that could harm your vital organs. Asanas,on the other hand, balance your metabolism and thus energise your body with the added beneficial effect on the functioning of all internal organs.

Art Of Asanas

Asana is a science and art in its own right and one requires an in-depth understanding of body, anatomy, physiology and yes, geometry, too. Right posture alone is not asana. It has to be supplemented with poise,proper positioning, right alignment, focus on breathing and crucially,the presence of awareness of every part of your body in the said posture. Asana is moving meditation, for such is the heightened awareness of body and breath. Never forget the objective of mastering asanas — to be able to sit comfortably in a stable posture and thus acquire the eligibility of progressing to the higher stages on the path of yoga. As a byproduct, the body becomes healthier, energetic and one may get cured of some ailments. But asanas are not a panacea for diseases. Strictly speaking,yoga can be taught only by a yogi. You cannot become a yogi just by adopting a certain external appearance. If the person teaches in a scientific way,very attentively, with patience and diligence then know that he is well-versed in the craft.

Pranayama Misconceptions

Once asanas are perfected,the practitioner can move on to pranayama. Again, there are misconceptions galore in this regard. Breathing in and out, shoving the stomach in and out is not pranayama.‘Prana’ refers to cosmic vital energy which is the critical force sustaining life. And giving dimension to this vital life force is pranayama. Prana is the bridge that connects our body with our mind. When prana exits the body,this connection gets severed leading to death of the body. That is why, once prana leaves the body, no matter how much oxygen you pump in as part of the resuscitation,the body cannot be revived.

The next stage is pratyahara and this means withdrawal of the five cognitive senses from their respective sense objects and stabilising them in the mind.

Maturity of pratyahara results in the state of dharana where only one thought is held in the mind to the exclusion of all others.

The fruition of dharana is dhyana or meditation, which is a state of thoughtless,heightened awareness.Meditation cannot be taught; it is a state that occurs as a consequence of matured dharana. Yoga happens in the totally still state of samadhi. All ignorance gets eradicated, and one reaches the pinnacle of human evolution with a remarkably heightened level of consciousness. This is the purpose of human life. The destination and path are clear-cut.What is needed is a disciplined practice under the guidance of an enlightened master

Om Namah Shivay

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Hand Postures (Hast Mudra)-1

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Simply put, Hand Posture is the yogic posturing of the fingers of the hands in various ways. In yoga, apart from yog asanas, that is , yogic exercises, and pranayama, that is, yogic breathing exercises, Hast Mudras or Hand Postures have an important role to play.

In Fact, Hast Mudra or Hand Posture Is A Complete Science By Itself. The whole universe is made up of 5 elements, that is, fire, air, space, earth and water and likewise a human body is composed of these 5 elements.The fingers of the hand represent these 5 elements individually.

The thumb represents fire, the 1st finger represents air, the middle finger represents space, the ring finger represents earth and the little finger represents water. If these 5 elements are in harmony with one another in the body we are healthy. Imbalance in these 5 elements leads to disease.The balanced elements cause the body’s systems to function optimally.

The Hand postures (I’ll refer to them as simply Mudras now on) start acting immediately.An interesting point to note here is that the Mudras of one hand cause improvement in the body’s opposite side, that is, the Mudras of the left hand cause improvement in the right side of the body and vice versa. These Mudras can be done while walking, sitting or standing. If sitting, we can sit in any position be it Padmasana, Vajrasana or Sukhasana. These Mudras should be done everyday beginning with 10 minutes a day to 30 to 45 minutes for full effect.This time duration can be evenly split in 2 or 3 sessions. The Mudras should be done on empty stomach.

* Please Note: While doing Mudras the free fingers have to be kept straight.

The 10 Hand posture are explained individually below.

1. Gyan Mudra or the Mudra of Knowledge

Method: Touch the tip of the thumb and the tip of the index or 1st finger together.The other 3 fingers have to be kept straight .

Benefits:
A. It helps in meditation and concentration and reduces negativity of the mind.
B. It improves memory and with regular practice students can improve grades and intelligence.
C. It aids in alleviating headache, insomnia and hypertension and reduces anger.
Note: For better results do Prana Mudra after this Mudra

2. Vayu Mudra or Mudra of Air
In this Mudra, the tip of the index or 1st finger is touched to the base of the thumb and the thumb comes over the finger with a slight pressure of the thumb being exerted. Rest of the fingers remain straight as in the picture.

Benefits:
A. By the practice of this mudra, all vayu ,that is, air related afflictions, like Arthritis,Gout, Sciatica,Knee pain,and Gas are relieved. It especially benefits in neck pain and spinal pain.

3. Shoonya Mudra or The Mudra of Emptiness
The tip of the middle finger is put at the base of the thumb and the thumb comes over the finger with slight pressure of the thumb being exerted on the finger as shown in the picture. The other 3 fingers are kept straight.

Benefits:

A. Regular practice of this Mudra helps in reducing ear pain and watering from the ears.
B. If this Mudra is done for 1 hour daily it can benefit in hardness of hearing .
C.The bones become strong and is beneficial in heart disease .
D. It strengthens gums and is helpful in throat problems and thyroid disease.

Precautions: This hand posture should never be done while eating or walking.

4. Prithvi Mudra or the Mudra of Earth

In this Mudra the tips of the thumb and the ring finger are touched together as in the picture. Rest of the fingers are kept straight.

Benefits:

A. Regular practice of this Mudra, is helpful in body weakness, thinness and also obesity
B. It improves the functioning of the digestive system and reduces the defiency of vitamins.
C. It gives energy and lustre to the body.

Om Namah Shivay

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Shivaratri Message: ‘The only way out is in’

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Shivaratri Message: ‘The only way out is in’

There is only one reason why everyone is not naturally enlightened, and it is simply this: people have categorised the world. They have divided it into good and bad, God and Devil, high and low, sacred and profane, heaven and hell.
Once you have fractured existence within yourself, there is no way to reach a state of ultimate union. High-low, pure-impure ­ these are parallel lines that will never meet. You have been told to love your enemy . If you first label someone your enemy and then try to love him, it’s impossible! Once you have fragmented creation like this, there is no way to arrive at a state of absolute inclusiveness.

The problem is that human beings have lost a fundamental distinction ­ between inward and outward, between one’s way of being and one’s transactions with the external world. Transactions are different, according to the nature of a situation or relationship. However remote or intimate, transactions are always governed by laws or norms.

However, when it comes to our inner nature, there is only one governing principle: borderless unity. Our physical and social worlds are governed by boundaries. Our inner world doesn’t need boundaries. To attain the ecstasy of borderless unity , our natural state, there are just two simple guidelines to follow.

First, understand that all human experience is generated from within ­ either with the support of external stimuli or without. Human experience is 100% self-created. If one establishes this absolutely , the consequences of our transactions will no longer be burdensome.

Everything in existence is happening according to a certain natural law. If you know the nature of life within you, you can completely take charge of the way it happens. Your destiny is at present written by you unconsciously. If you have mastery over your physical body , 15-20% of your life and destiny will be in your hands. If you have mastery over your mind, 50-60% of your life and destiny will be in your hands. If you have mastery over your life energies, 100% of your life and destiny will be in your hands.

This doesn’t mean you will ever be completely in control of the outside world, but you can become the sole creator and supreme architect of your inner world. Whatever the inner world. Whatever the events and situations that occur, you don’t get crushed by them; you ride them.

Second, set this golden rule: You never look up to anything, nor do you ever look down on anything. If you allow this to soak into you, you will enter into a profound state of involvement with everything around you. If you believe the `ooperwala’ is in charge of the world, remember that you are living on a round planet ­ and one that’s spinning. So, wherever you look, you are obviously looking in the wrong direction! In this vast ever-expanding cosmos, what’s up and what’s down? You have no clue.Nowhere in the cosmos is it marked `This side up’! The only distinction you do know right now is `within’ and `without’ ­ although, for the yogi, even this distinction has vanished.

This Mahashivaratri, let us remind ourselves: Up and down, good and bad, sacred and profane: these are all assumed. But inward and outward: this is the one reality we are sure of. This is the one reality we can work with.

This is Adiyogi’s most significant contribution to humankind and it is a profound and enduring one: “The only way out is in.“

Om Namah Shivay

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Yoga is that which gives you pleasure and comfort

The definition for ‘asana’ is a posture that is stable and pleasant. You should feel comfortable when doing yoga asanas. What is the definition of comfort? When you don’t feel the body. If you are sitting in some odd positions then you feel those parts of the body, painfully. Your focus is more on the discomfort there. When you do any asana, what you feel first is discomfort. But if you take your mind through it, you will find that in just a few minutes the discomfort has disappeared and you don’t feel the body. You feel an expansion or infinity in the postures.

How should a posture be done? Get into a position and let go of the effort. What happens then? Infinity abides in you. So each asana should be done keeping in mind that the goal of this is not just the correctness of the posture, but to feel an expansion within. This is the most important thing in yoga asanas. The purpose of yoga is not only to keep a good physical shape but also to experience infinity and timeless expansion within. And that starts happening to you with some practice.

The other definition for yoga is to get back from the scenery to the seer. Slowly take your attention from outside to inside. First, from the environment, bring your attention to the physical body. Then go one step further because even the body is the scenery and take your attention to the mind. Now when you witness the thoughts that are coming in the mind, even that becomes the scenery. Go deeper. So movement from the scenery to the seer, to the one who is seeing everything is another definition of yoga.

Whenever you experience joy, ecstasy, bliss and happiness in life, knowingly or unknowingly you are abiding in the nature of the seer. Otherwise, at other times, you are with different activities of the mind, you are lost in them.

The Modulations of the Mind

What are these different activities of the mind? The modulations of the mind are of five forms; some are problematic and some are not. These are:

Pramana: when the mind is engaged in wanting proof

Viparyaya: means wrong understanding

Vikalpa: means an imaginary notion, not conforming to reality

Nidra: which means sleep

Smruti: living in memory

These five vrittis or modulations of the mind drain the potential of a human being. Having control over these modulations of the mind is what yoga is all about. They are like horses. If the reins of the horses are in your hands, then you can give them direction, but if you are at the mercy of the horse then it takes you wherever it goes. So it is said, ‘Yogah chitta vritti nirodaha’ – Yoga is that which arrests the modulations of the mind.

When you practice an asana, the goal is to feel comfortable and then feel the expansion; not by wanting to feel, but by letting go; by not ‘doing’ something. So the first step in yoga is to let go, to relax and the last step in yoga is also to let go and relax.

Om Namah Shivay

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