Newsletter February 2019
Dear Students and Members of the Yoga Studio,
I hope your current life situation is filled with enthusiasm, challenges that you are keen to rise too, and loads of laughter and grace.
For me new information, current problems facing individuals, families, countries and the global population and associated global biological process have been foremost in my mind over the last few years and over the last month or so as I contemplate where the Yoga Studio might fit in helping individuals, groups and political feeling to make our lives more adequate and sustainable in the deepest sense. Fortunately there are some major works of synthesis now available to help us all. The classic world tradition (Yoga, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam etc.) have for thousands of years expounded methods on how to “WAKE UP” to states of consciousness where we are more alive, connected and in love with more and more aspects of the inner and outer world we inhabit. Simply put, they teach us how to transcend our sense of (ego) separateness into a deeper connectedness to all that is including ourselves. Unfortunately these traditions knew nothing about the developmental stages and process of “GROWING UP” which give us a changing view of the world as we progress through these MENTAL STRUCTURE STAGES and therefore greatly influence the view we have of the world and ourselves and how we function both towards ourselves, family, society and the world as a totality. Unless traditions like yoga or self-realisation practices such as Buddhism seriously adopt these recently understood and researched hidden maps of how we see the world and how we GROW UP, these traditions will increasingly become outdated, obsolete and seem silly to the post-modern populations. But if we adopt a commitment to both WAKING UP and GROWING UP and develop the skilful means to bring these together we have some real tools to deal with the major problems facing us all and to lead a more fully enlightened life. A person at a very low stage of GROWING UP can still have an enlightenment experience given the right stimulus but will interpret the experience through the structure rung they are at, their level of GROWING UP. For example if they are at egocentric magic then it will be interpreted as being all about them (my enlightenment, I am special) but if they are at a post rational level of world centric or integral level then the interpretation will be world orientated and humanitarian,(service and ground of being orientated).
Our current global problems definitely involve mental health, poverty, education, nutrition, social and personal evolution. Our vantage point or stage of GROWING UP can effectively influence global climate change and other major environmental problems like species loss, water and soil degradation and forms of pollution like plastics and persistent toxins, because we will feel more responsible and embrace skill adequate to make personal changes even if they require a letting go of a valued behaviour like air travel. As we become more AWAKE each moment is richer, very alive and enough, so indulgence in sensual pleasure gratification or social habits marketed for money like travel for travel, will become less meaningful as to will be, power over and dominator behaviours. So we develop the capacity to see globally destructive actions, have the capacity to personally change these behaviours and have the skills to remain blissful and complete without the obsessive need for gratifying previous pleasures and material needs and addictions. We simplify and we evolve in complexity.
Yoga as taught in the popular circles does help folks with self-care needs and can relieve tension, stress and improve outlook. Dealing with the ultimate causes of these issues is a different level totally. The yoga or contemplative system needs to be very rigorous to go deep enough to change patterns of body use to bring harmony there and even deeper to change mental patterns that produce our world views. The deepest layer of all, after the I of flesh (body and instinctive emotions), the I of illumination (mind and higher emotions) is the I of contemplation which covers the deepest aspects of our pre-conscious orientations which we use, often unconsciously, to form our world view and behaviour. How many people can seriously justify on all levels flying around the world twice of three times a year, or prompting high market end tourism rather than eco-tourism.
Iyengar Yoga with authentic deep meditation can provide a useful platform for WAKING UP, it incorporates a good deal of modern science’s understanding of the body and mind but lacks understanding of the GROWING UP component. These hidden maps we look through are understood through investigative techniques of science studying individuals, groups, cultures and populations and not just through direct experience like the Buddhism mind of suchness. Both have their place and the good news for planetary change is that after WAKING UP, and GROWING UP we will use less effort to STAND UP in society and act and SHOW UP in our true authentic actions around understanding of a wholesome environmentally balanced life so we really do CLEAN UP inside and out. As the farmer down the road summarised with her look of total bamboozlement at my preaching of this said “Oh so I better SHUT UP, LOOSEN UP, TIGHTEN UP, SCRUB UP and definitely not STUFF UP, SCREW UP or F#### Up”. Less deep and intellectual but somewhere in there transformation appears to be brewing.
So what does this mean to the classes and practice emphasis at the Yoga Studio. We will continue to offer classes for body balance, strength, flexibility and relaxation classes which support release of chronic or habitual physical, mental and emotional states. Classes will move into integrating aspects of practice to help reduce being lost in our own creation of self we achieved during socialisation, so we can increasingly give up being seriously somebody to being more and more no-body pretending to be somebody so we can delight in the play and dance of life with lightness and a wider perspective. As the WAKING UP traditions show us that when we are not identified exclusively with the physical plane, the psycho-social plane and astral plane (mythos of life) we connect to a reality where we are nothing, or everything or God, that pure suchness. Put progressively we undergo purification of the I of flesh, illumination in the I of mind, and achieve deep and deeper contemplation and realisation in the I of spirit. As for GROWING UP, that will depend on your call and life choices but information and discussion and the community will provide experiences to assist. Specific classes will cover the information provided by Western Science of the vantage points and associated hidden maps we all have but look through them, or are them, rather than have awareness of them. We change by the subject of one stage becoming the object of the subject of the next stage until universal unity and full care if achieved. Being aware of subtle aspects of deep mind and spirit (increasing stages of WAKING UP) helps us progress through stages of GROWING UP.
Oh and Pranayama (breath work meditation) will be more rigorously taught and required as a pre-requisite for advanced posture work. There are free classes offered for folks wanting to try Iyengar Yoga and for us to see if they would suit a beginner’s course.
Please check the timetable page for all new classes.
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