Newsletter February 2018
Yoga Insight, Enlightened insight
Gestation over summer has born for me some deep commitments to the way forward for the Yoga Studio and the teachings on going there. Clearly we have more data and assertions from medical science and the wave of information coming out of linage traditions and practice based wellness initiatives. I have been ruminating on these and how to bring deep practice into teachings for a small student base school aimed at promoting home personal practice. Clearly the truth that the way forward for all students is fully outlined within their own hearts as long as there is enough deep listening and the understanding of options. There will be a significant shift in emphasis at the Yoga Studio over this coming year.
Increasingly neuroscience and medical research in general are finding that our brain function and resulting experiences and behaviours can be changed by our intervention and intention. Some of these transformative practices are called: mindfulness, meditation, awareness training, insight practice, relaxation response training, yoga, tai chi, martial arts and many other systems of emerging and commercialised version of old contemplative techniques and religion traditions and practices, even including North American Red Indian and shamanic approaches. I agree there are many unethical as well as realised teachers out in the market place so caution is definitely required in adopting a practice or undertaking a period of training.
Two profound principle of our functioning need urgent attention in society, they are the “Leaky Gut” issue and brain health/mental health. Neuroplasticity is a medical term and principle supporting personal practices/behaviour to change our brains and experiences. The brain can change itself, we can change ourselves. Clearly diet and specific foods and other factors influence the way undigested foods enter the blood stream (cross the gut wall barrier) and via the link through embryogenesis and the Vagus nerve, what the gut does the brain allows, so we get undigested food entering the brain creating brain fog, early onset of dementia and other neurological disorders including depression, anxiety, anger and despair. Clearly other factors influence brain function but these are big ones. Meditation and exercise change brain chemistry and our experiences. Incorporating what is known about practice based transformation and goals and the emerging platform of wellness we can make huge progress in our health, wellbeing and moment to moment state of being and effectiveness towards our chosen goals. Also reducing the risk of dementia.
To contextualise all this into a practice each of us should keep in mind our own heart felt intentions as we realise there is a changing tapestry which deepens as we become more skilful in our means and methods and learn more from life itself. So starting from now and our self we can introduce practices and methods which change our brain and physical health. Part of this is being in harmony with the inevitability of old age, illness and death, and part of it is being a co-creator of abundant health and vitality for the stage in life we are at.
Many current systems of yoga and mindfulness training do not include the deeper aspect of enlightenment which is a stage of human development where we are not overly obsessed with our separate small self and are increasingly and permanently associated with the fullness of life and the totality of our universe and its people and beings. This enlightenment transformation occurs when we cultivate insight into the nature of our mind and body and experientially recognise how it works and how it actually is, moment to moment. How everything is changing and is not permanent and there is not a solid permanent self. We do not have to get anything from outside, rather recognise what actually is inside. Physical postures can aid this understanding but are often taught like a recording and without the emphasis on an understanding of an individual’s state or stage of development and seldom in relation to self-transformation towards enlightenment, but rather towards body beautiful and ego mind conditioning and controlling, and as a form of entertainment and sensuality of life. Nothing wrong that but it is lessening what is possible. There is a point where a harmonious intergraded mind, rolling free and fully intergraded in the now, becomes a soft goal worked towards, like gently raising a child to be a free functioning fully intergraded adult.
The classes at the Yoga Studio over the last few years have been increasingly oriented towards these insight into the minds functioning and how postures and practices change how we feel and behave, how our motivation and orientation can be more towards a greater good and less self-obsessed leading to a happier and more integrated state of being.
An Overview for those new to yoga (overcoming suffering and waking up)
When we experience liberation from bondage to mental and emotional attachment and habit attachment, bondage to unhappiness, stress and negative thinking and feelings, we do not want to go back to the previous unpleasant state of being. But we do time and time again go back, we create our own suffering as avoidable as it is, this is a real enigma as to why we or the mind does this.
When we fully experience unity in this moment free from defiled sates we hanker for this state more and more and skilful means in life and practice develops. When we are not aware of the possibility we are simply not aware of it so we do not strive to free ourselves. Our suffering can be our motivation and blessing if we can see it clearly enough. To get out of prison first we must realise we are in prison.
This is not a fast track, quick fix, new fad, this is as old as human endeavour and all spiritual traditions touch on some if not all aspects of waking up into integration and free functioning.
The order of our mastery of aspects of the Way is personal but in the end we should integrate, develop and harmonise:
- Cognition in the present moment
- Awareness of thinking and feeling
- Application in vocation, leisure and relaxation
- Relationship maturity to master zero negativity and grounding in the heart felt
- Communication and problem solving
- Body function
- Matters of ultimate concern such as peace with birth and death, being and non being and the state beyond all pairs of opposites
- Trance work, mind mastery and complete involvement with complete non attachment
- Breath mastery for health and mind control and biological function including alignment of joints and nerves
- Recognition of our individual way (personal dharma)
- Understanding of social forces, positive and negative, coercive forces for conformity and our free choices in behaviour.
- Atonement with causality and nothing extra
- Stilling the mind and opening the heart
- Being more, doing less, and doing less that is destructive to our environmental
- Reduced worry and extra thinking to be more effective.
- Flowing with a mind that has dropped obsession with the idea of and about self.
And you can add many more I am sure, but investigating simple complexities can be profound like what is a thought and how do these little neuro vibrations catch us into suffering so so easily.
Aiming to have emptiness without the loss of love for life and develop Self actualisation without defiled states arising is the Middle Way. We will aim at the Yoga studio to help practice avoid these two pitfalls.
Our class schedule is being changed for 2018 to accommodate the more exact teachings in various domains which will help initiate break through understanding for those with particular challenges and issues. We are focusing on:
- A therapy class to try to reduce pain and physical dysfunction using personally tailored approaches and poses, please register for this and make a real commitment towards your healing.
- Meditation for insight which will start at the basics of stilling the mind and move into utilising the stillness to change the mind and brain and awaken into more integration and happiness.
- Pranayama or breath being work to aid physical and mental integration and growth for stable integrate awareness and increased Gamma brain wave function which is essential to creativity and sharply focussed attention. This is the bases of feeling more aliveness in experience.
- Posture work for insight and health include reducing the influence of age on function and abatement of repetitive use stress (mental and physical) such as sport competition and work related body use from desk bound to muscle bound and brain contraction from lack of harmonious use
The beginner classes will be a good starting place for all new to (or fallen away from) the Yoga Studio classes and an appropriate revision for more experienced practitioners of yoga and meditation. The pranayama work will be demanding but a huge benefit to all.
Article at the request of Nicole Allen on Mike Byron-McKay a perspective on yoga teaching
Long distance meditation – An out breath for Mike Byron Mckay