Consciousness

The First Step of Health: Forgiveness

You can heal yourself

“When you look deeply you begin to understand, the moment when you understand, compassion is born in your heart. And then it is possible for you to forgive.” – Thich Nat Han

The ancient sage Charaka was the founder of what may be the world’s oldest continually practiced medical system—Ayurveda. For over 5,000 years, this holistic approach to health has been practiced by millions in India and around the globe. Now this ancient wisdom is gaining traction in the West, as a result of the popularity of its sister science, yoga.

Ayurveda, yoga, and tantra constitute a sacred trinity of systems developed by ancient rishis (seers) to foster progress toward liberation: Ayurveda purifies the body; tantra, the mind; and yoga, the spirit. Practiced together, these three systems help an individual achieve an ideal integrated balance of physical health, mental focus, and spiritual enlightenment.

In our hectic modern time, we find it hard to do the things necessary to reach the harmony that Ayurvedic sages have taught us to seek. Although we know what it is we need to do, we often find excuses for harmful behaviors and procrastinate when it comes it to acting in ways that would lead us toward better health. Many of us get bogged down by the demands of modern life and fall into negative thought patterns. The National Science Foundation estimates that as much as 80 percent of our thoughts are negative. Every day, we struggle with self-criticism, thus impeding the development of health and overall well-being.

So what do we do to change this? Many who aspire to an Ayurvedic lifestyle start by setting unrealistic self-improvement goals, resolving to practice yoga five days a week, eat only healthy home-cooked Ayurvedic food, and meditate and do tantric breathing exercises for an hour every day. These ambitious good intentions are bound to prove overwhelming! I would like to suggest that you first take the step of finding forgiveness for yourself and those who have had a negative impact on your life. So how do we do this? It’s simple—we do it with love. More love, more compassion, from ourselves, for ourselves, and toward others. Start by making friends with yourself. Be willing to truly know who you are, what you’re doing or not doing, and why. And then team up with yourself to do whatever is necessary to bring yourself back into love, and the health and balance you seek will follow quite easily.

Once you commit to re-establishing self-love, focus on the necessary attributes for self-change. This Ayurvedic or yogic concept is known as tapasTapasis Sanskrit for “inner fire.” Tapas refers to austerity, determination, and the willingness to do whatever is necessary to bring yourself back into balance and health. In order to be successful in this we must identify and acknowledge our crimes against wisdom or our contributions to our own ill health. Then, instead of beating yourself up about it, realize your inner empowerment. Accept the reality that you’ve helped cause your illness or imbalances. Only then can the power of tapasfinally stop causing your illness. This realization can now bring you back onto the path of Dharma(the right way of living) and renewed health.

Thanks to this self-love and self-realization, you’ll now have the force behind you to do something about your health. Draw on your inner resources, your courage and resolve, your patience and perseverance. Reach out for support from your family and friends, Ayurvedic books, therapists, practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine, the internet—get all the information and assistance you can. Be willing to let go of the past to move forward into a future of wellness. Change your diet, change your job, change your life. Reach down inside yourself and find the tapasto heal yourself. In the end no one else can heal you; they can only assist you—you are the one who needs to do the work to heal yourself. You’ve got this!

Contact us to schedule an online Ayurvedic Wellness Session here.

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. 

Sadhana and the Power of Aum (“Om”)

Sadhana and the power of Aum "om"

In Vedic philosophy there is a concept known as sadhana.Sadhanais a Sanskrit word whose root, sadh, means “to reclaim that which is divine in us, our power to heal, serve, rejoice, and uplift the spirit.” Sadhanapractices encompass all our daily activities, from the simple to the sublime. These practices aim to help live you in harmony with the cycles of nature and to move to the rhythms of the cosmos. When you begin to do this, your mind becomes more fluid and peaceful and your health can improve. Your entire life can become easier.  

When you begin to practice yoga and Ayurveda, your first responsibility is to look beneath the various disguises  assumed over the years and see yourself as you truly are. The more you find out about yourself and your strengths and weakness, the more you will learn about your body, mind, and spirit and their innate power. You will awaken to your own self-healing abilities. In Ayurveda, there is a belief that disease happens from within, and so too must any cure. From this perspective, we can view any disturbance or illness as an opportunity to go deeper into ourselves to discover what changes we need to make in order to heal our bodies, our feelings, and our lives.

Each of us was born on this earth to fulfill a unique purpose. The Vedas call this purpose our dharmaand teach that by following the path of sadhana, we will achieve harmony with it. Harmony already exists at the core of every human life. Once we become conscious, we are able to recognize it. We become aware of the blessedness that surrounds us, the serenity in our living space after a long day’s work, the beauty of dusk glimpsed through the windows, the sweetness of sparrows’ songs, and the warmth of the colors of the autumn leaves.

When we are aware of our inner harmony, our power of intuition becomes active. We become more expressive, more fully alive, and more in tune with our bodies and all our healing energies. This intuition, together with our rational mind, will help us heal and bring all aspects of our lives into balance.

The Sanskrit word Aum(meaning “source” and transliterated as “Om”) represents pure consciousness. Through the Vedic practice of chanting mantras that begin and end with Aum, we harness the inner power of our intuition. The fact that the Biblical word amenand Koranic word aminmirror the Aumsound suggests that Aumtranscends the vocabulary of any single religion. It’s the highest vibrational sound of the universe, for the universe, and from the universe. The Vedic seers tell us that as the universe’s most sacred sound, Aumresonates within in the space of the sixth chakra, located mid-brow, between the eyes, in the area known as the “third eye.” Modern science now this defines this area as the pineal gland, which regulates reproductive hormones and helps maintain the body’s circadian rhythm.

Aumand amenshould always be spoken very reverently as though you’re touching one of the most sacred symbols of Divinity. They are not magic words nor are they curative or therapeutic words to be used in pain and suffering but, rather, they are purely Divine words to bring about attunement and oneness with God in the highest spiritual sense.

The practice of chanting Aumencourages progress toward sadhana. The purpose is well stated in the Upanishads: “What world does he who meditates on Aum until the end of his life, win by That? If he meditates on the Supreme Being with the syllable Aum, he becomes one with the Light, he is led to the world of Brahman [the Absolute Being] Who is higher than the highest life, That which is tranquil, unaging, immortal, fearless, and supreme.” – Prashna Upanishad 5:1, 5, 7

In the yoga, Aumis the holiest of holy words, the supreme mantra. Aumis also called the pranava, a Sanskrit word that means both controller of the life force (prana) and the life giver (infuser of prana). Each of us has the capacity to enter the vast universe within ourselves and become conscious of the Divine spirit that is beyond the material reality we understand through the five senses. The daily chanting of Aumdaily in during mundane routines such as cooking, cleaning, and taking a shower will help you learn to shift your perspective and enter a meditative state many times throughout your day. In this state of mind, you will come to see all obstacles and challenges in your everyday life as opportunities to learn more about yourself and your individual inner strengths. This simple practice of sadhanacan have profound impact on your inner harmony and path to health and happiness.

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. 

Wisdom in Action

According to Ayurveda, it is not only important to be moderate in your actions, but also to be wise in your actions. In this we do not bring harm to ourselves or to others through anything we think or do. These are known as the lessons of yama or ethics and niyamas or self-restraint. This include:

  • Do not hurt anyone through thought or action. This is the principle of nonviolence.
  • Always be truthful to yourself and others-that is, tell the "sweet" truth: do not attack with truth.
  • Do not steal, this also includes acts of envy. To want what someone else has, even another's charm or grace, is a form of stealing.
  • Do not judge others since you are not in their shoes. We make choices based on our experiences, and not having had the totality of anyone else's experiences, we are not in a position to judge anyone's decisions but our own.
  • Be balance in all activity, including the actions of the five senses. In other words , do not overindulge any sensual appetite. Attune yourself to the body's natural intelligence, and you can easily recognize the signs of imbalance that signal excess.

The lessons of Niyama include the cultivation of purity of mind and body which is the cultivation of balance and health, of contentment and of surrender and devotion to the divine. In short the implicit of this message is to "love thyself". If we do not know how to do this for ourselves, we cannot know hoe to extend love to another. If we are always attacking ourselves with negative thoughts, we are not likely to hesitate to attack someone else. In this sense, all love truly begins and ends with the self. What we do to the Self, by virtue of the fundamental law of action. 

So Hum Mantra

According to both Hindu and Buddhist traditions, the So Ham mantra is considered to be the vibration of the cosmic unheard AUM and produces a union between the individual and universal consciousness. “So Hum” is translated as “I Am That” Pronunciation: So – Hahmmm The two seed syllables inherent four polarities:

  • The polarity of female Yin energy, represented by So, and male Yang energy, represented by Hum;
  • The polarity of inspiration (So – cold air) and expiration (Hum – warm air);
  • The polarity of mental (So) and emotional (Hum) energies;
  • The polarity of spirit (So) and matter (Hum).

How to Meditate
Sit comfortably and quietly with your palms up, open, and placed on your knees and pay attention to your breath. Let your lungs breath with no effort on your part. Simply watch your breath. Inhale. Exhale. Silently pronounce So on inhalation and Hum on exhalation.

Hum means “I“or the individual ego; So means “He, the Divine”. In the natural course of So – Hum meditation, with the So going in, life energy goes in. When Hum goes out, ego, our limited individuality, goes out. Proper practice of So – Hum meditation leads to the union of the individual with the universal Cosmic Consciousness. No effort is required, no concentration, no judgment, just choiceless observation. In that state there is great joy, beauty, and love.

When?
The best time to chant the So – Hum mantra is in the morning before eating breakfast. The chanting will release a finer energy that can be used throughout the day. An early evening meditation before having a meal will relax the body and renew energy depleted during the day.

For how long?
It is important that you sit silent and meditate after silent So – Hum chanting. You can start with 5 minutes silent chanting followed by 10 minutes of silent meditation.

Practice this easy meditation every day for at least ten to fifteen minutes (or longer) and you will discover for yourself the treasure house of meditation. 

Pranayama means control of breath. Vedic science teaches us how to control our mind by breathing practices. We also can use pranayama to activate male (solar) and female (lunar) energy then needed, or harmonize them.

TODAY’S TIP: It is important to meditate in a room that is not used very often and that feels to be your space (such as your bedroom). It shouldn’t be cluttered with too many things and should contain a window.

Purusha

From the book Yoga and the Sacred Fire by David Frawley

One could say that the essence of our humanity is that we are ‘sentient’ beings, conscious entities possessed of feelings and capable of suffering. We cannot accept that human beings are enslaved, experimented on, used for food, killed or tortured or any other such demeaning actions that we might allow for animals. It offends our sensibilities when we see a human being treated as a mere thing or ‘object’. We respect our dignity and inviolability as a conscious ‘subject’. This is because we recognize existence of a consciousness principle in the human person. 

We see the human as an independent being, possessing free will and entitled to his or her own life and happiness. We feel that humans should be treated fairly and allowed to live as they see fit, which we refer to as ‘human rights’ in our various law codes. There is nothing inherently wrong with this line of thought except that it does not go far enough. Our mistake is thinking that such a consciousness principle and the rights that go along with it are unique to our species and do not belong to the rest of the universe.

Consciousness is not something that our species owns. It is as universal as light. Some form of consciousness or feeling exists in all beings down to the rocks. However, once we recognize the all-pervasive nature of consciousness then we must treat all creatures ‘humanely’—with a similar care and regard that we would afford a fellow human being. The same consciousness principle that makes us feel human is a universal principle that fills the world with light and allows other creatures to live and move as well. 

The universe itself is a person, though without the limitations and prejudices of our human personality. This is what the science of Yoga calls the ‘Purusha’. The Purusha, meaning a person or conscious being, is a Sanskrit term for the Cosmic Being behind the universe, the spirit within all things. The entire universe is a manifestation of the Cosmic Person. This Cosmic Person endows every creature with personhood or a sense of self, not only humans but also animals and ultimately all of nature.

The goal of classical Yoga—as defined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the prime ancient textbook of Yoga—is the realization of the Purusha or cosmic being as our true Self.[i] This is a different definition than most people today consider, with the physical image of yoga that has become popular in our culture, but it is the actual foundation of the Yoga tradition. The Purusha or true Self is the ultimate goal of all Vedic practices and all Vedantic philosophy, examination and inquiry. Yoga is a path of Self-realization in the deeper sense of this Cosmic Self, not simply knowing our human self but realizing the entire universe within our own minds and hearts.[ii] Our true Self is the universal Self or Purusha that exists within all nature.[iii] The greater concern of Yoga practice is uniting our limited consciousness with the unbounded infinite awareness that is the Self of all. 

This yogic view of the Self is very different than usual views that emphasize the bodily self, the psychological self, or the religious soul as our true nature. Our ordinary view of the bodily self is of an entity that is born and dies along with the body and is as separate from the world as our flesh is from the ground. Our view of the psychological self is of an entity created by our personal history during this physical life. It has the unique characteristics of our upbringing and education along with the particular capacities that we develop through our own efforts, making us different than every other person. Our usual religious view of the soul is of an entity created by God, dependent upon the body and its resurrection, which can perhaps commune with God in some heavenly world but retains its separate identity and cannot become one with that supreme Reality.  

In the yogic view, our true individuality is an inner consciousness that unites us with all – not a physical, mental or religious entity that keeps us apart. Our self is mirrored in all the selves in the universe. If we look deeply, we can see that everything in the universe has a personality or spirit within it, whether it is the Sun, the mountains, animals or human beings. Every form in nature from the rocks to the clouds is a face of Consciousness. All faces of all creatures, we could say, are masks of God. 

This Cosmic Person exists in an embodied form as the soul within all creatures. We could say that plants and animals are evolutionary precursors of human beings or younger forms of ourselves, people in the making as it were. The Cosmic Person also exists in disembodied forms as the spirit behind the forces of nature. We could say that the Sun and Moon are cosmic, older or vaster forms of ourselves – spiritual powers and personalities. The whole universe is the cosmic human being taking many different appearances and assuming many different functions both individually and collectively as part of its manifold expression.

This view was known to the sages of the Rig Veda, in which the teaching of the Purusha first arose:
The Cosmic Person (Purusha) is all this, what has been and what will be. From his mind, the Moon was born, from his eye came the Sun. From his mouth arose the powers of fire and lightning. From the wind his breath was born. 
From his navel came the atmosphere, from his head Heaven, from his feet the Earth and from his ears, the directions of space. Thus all the worlds were formed.

The human being is a replica of the greater universe, which itself has an organic structure like the human body. We are an expression of the ‘self-conscious universe’ holding both spirit and nature within ourselves. This means that we exist in all things, not as a separate species but as part of the underlying fabric of awareness. Through the unity of consciousness, the human being is the universe and the universe is a human being.  We could say that the material universe is the body of consciousness, while consciousness is the soul of the world. 

This Cosmic Person is both man and woman, the Great God and the Great Goddess, both the cosmic masculine and cosmic feminine powers. It is not simply the essence of humanity but the prototype for plants, animals, stars and planets. The Cosmic Person is the universal form, the prime archetype behind all beings, the ‘I behind the I ‘in all creatures. 

This Purusha or consciousness principle of Yoga, however, is no mere philosophical concept, theological belief or abstract Absolute. It is the very fire within our hearts that is the light of the entire universe. The Purusha is Jyotirmaya or ‘made of light’. To truly practice Yoga we must begin with an understanding of this being of light as our goal. However, few Yoga students today are aware of the Purusha, much less its connection to fire, though that has always been the key to the inner process and higher experience of Yoga. Most meditators aim at understanding the psychological self, not realizing that our true Self is the cosmic light expressing itself in all of nature, in which our personal psychology gets consumed as an offering in but an instant.