Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Why postpone enjoyment?

Let me start by sharing a small personal experience with you. Last year, I made a trip with a bunch of friends to Taman Nagara, a dense tropical jungle in Malaysia. 160 million years old, filled with gigantic trees, creepers, all kinds of colorful birds and large pretty insects with a mighty river cutting right across it, the vibes of the place was amazing! During those 3 days there, there was a strange peace and bliss that was overflowing within me and felt deeply connected with every tree, creeper and creature there. Honestly, a beautiful connection with nature, with existence happened within, I may not be able to put them in words. I couldn't be bothered about anything at that time, totally carefree.

Now, one of my friends A who wasn't quite the nature-loving types was bored and disappointed as he felt it wasn't as exciting as making a trip to a happening place like Sydney or Bangkok. Another friend B who is supposedly a nature lover was always glued to his new camera. Whatever he spoke when he took breaks from the camera was about the pictures he took and the pictures he planned to take.

This brings me to two important points, thanks to my friends A and B. First: Why did A find the place boring? and Second: Why was B so busy clicking photographs instead of enjoying the place?

To answer the first, as Swamiji says, we are always busy fueling our mind with external inputs, stimuli through our senses. The busy, fast-paced lifestyle wherein we are used to pumping so much data just through advertisements and other news keeps us going. We have completely forgotten how to enjoy the silence within. Our mind rapidly races from one thought to another and literally drives us. Sadly we think this is how things should be. That is why we like spicy food, enjoy fact-paced movies... almost anything that gives us a kick. We want the mind to be continuously at work and cannot imagine being otherwise. Swamiji gives simple and efficient techniques to break free from the clutches of the mind in his various programs.

Secondly, what is with our addiction to taking photos all the time? To put in plain words - We love to postpone our enjoyment. When a beautiful sunset is happening, we are busy adjusting the focal length and aperture size of the camera instead of soaking into the sunset. We feel we can always enjoy the same on a postcard sized photo later! And when that happens, it can never be as real and beautiful as the actual sunset.

The same goes with anything that we do in our lives. We are more worried about our savings accounts, insurance policies, retirement plans because we are paranoid and take steps that would help us enjoy later. Will that enjoying later ever happen??

In the process of postponing enjoyment, let us not miss the beautiful present moment!

Watch your Words!! (Nithya Yoga Series 3)

A lady comes home for healing regularly and every time we ask her, how are you feeling, the reply is this: I feel very weak. I am very tired. Its so miserable. What should I do?

Words, which we speak, which we write have immense power. One of the most powerful gift that we humans have is the ability to speak and communicate. We speak in different languages, we convey what we want to say to others using words.

When we speak to others, we take great care in selecting the words. We chose and pick words which do not offend others. There is a continuous check on what words we use to communicate with people around us, the society outside us.

Now lets see what we do inside us. We have continuous inner chatter, we constantly do something called speaking in. We verbalize our thoughts internally using words and what are these words - my life is miserable, its so pathetic, I am so lazy, it is useless.. and what not. We dump all kinds of negativities in our system. There is no check whatsoever when it comes to what we speak inside.

Now to top it up, the words we chose attract the same events in our life. Words are nothing but a way to express our thoughts. When we constantly feed ourselves with negative thoughts, we attract exactly the same kind of events. There is a very famous book/video called The Secret which talks about this in great detail. Our words, our thoughts have the power to attract similar kinds of events.

Swami Nithyananda talks about this beautifully. He says, 'Whatever we speak can become reality. Our words are like slides that can be put in front of a projector and can be projected onto a screen.' When we continuously feed ourselves with negative words, we are make ourselves more and more depressed. It has been scientifically proved that diseases like cancer are nothing a but a physical manifestation of our continuous negative inner chatter.

One of the many things that Nithya Yoga deals with is this inner chatter. Swami Nithyananda calls it - yoga for verbalization. In a Nithya Yoga session, we see the power of strong intention, the power of strong affirmation. People who have done Nithya Yoga have testified this. This is something that can be practiced anywhere, in each and every little act of ours.

Try this simple exercise next time when you feel tired or have headache in office. Just close your eyes. Set a strong intention of you being completely healthy; you are fit; your head is blissful; you are in complete ecstasy. Be very clear, do not use the word headache. When you say that you are actually feeding your system with 'ache' which is again negative. Set an intention without such contradictions. Believe me, you will feel rejuvenated.

For now, enjoy this video on yoga for verbalization.

-- Sri Nithya Arpanananda

Friday, September 21, 2007

Science of Rituals

A few days ago, we had the inauguration ceremony of our new Nithyananda Center in Singapore (Pictures of Event), for which we had some prayers and rituals done. The energy that day in the center was phenomenal. A few years ago, I used to wonder 'What is the point in all these rituals?'. Often we attach the tag of 'superstition', 'blind belief' etc. with rituals and idol worship.

Swami Nithyananda throws light on this subject beautifully. He says when a ritual is done with awareness it becomes meditation; but when even meditation is done without awareness, it becomes a mere ritual. Existence is made up of 5 elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. Each of these rituals is an attempt to connect with Existence, with the Cosmic Energy that lies within us.

The five elements are in order of subtlety. The earth is the grossest element; one can feel it, see it, hold it, smell it. Water is more fluid; you can see it and feel it, but cannot hold it. Fire is more subtle; you can feel it, sometimes cannot even see it. Subtler than fire is air; you can feel it but can never see it. The last is ether; it is beyond the sense perceptions, you can only experience it. Let us now see how we connect with each of these elements through rituals and meditation.

Take the earth element. All our worship of idols made of stone or metal are means to connect with the earth element in us. When this is done with awareness, you will no longer be worshiping the stone. You will be worshiping through the stone. Next, the water element. Taking a bath in any of the holy rivers or bathing the dieties (abhishekam) helps us relate with cosmic energy through water. Next is the fire element and all fire rituals and offerings (homa) are ways to relate with this. The air element is us is responsible for the words that we speak. Prayers that involve chants invoke the air element in us. Lastly, ether can be experienced only through silence. Silence does not refer to absence of words, it is a vibrant silence that is experienced in deep moments of meditation.

Of course when we see priests at temples chant away mantra but counting money in their hands, you lose respect for these rituals. Awareness is the key. When we do these rituals with a deep understanding, they can transform our very being. Here is a video where Swamiji gives some amazing insights into rituals.

Those of us who do guru pooja (an offering of gratitude to existence) regularly invariably experience a deep joy and silence within, it is certainly a powerful meditation in itself. In Singapore, we will be starting to conduct classes to train people to do the guru pooja/guru homa on their own. Those interested can send an email to lifebliss.singapore@gmail.com.

-- Ma Nithyananda Arpana

Friday, September 14, 2007

Another New School?? (Nithya Yoga Series 2)

'Yeah, another school of yoga, what's new in this one?' - this is the obvious question that one would ask if someone reads my previous blog post in Nithya Yoga series. And I agree this is a valid question.

So lets go back in time, thousands of years ago to see how it all originated ...

Patanjali, an enlightened master and the father of Yoga, wrote Yoga Sutra thousands of years ago. He introduced to the world then, what is called Ashtanga Yoga. It was not like there were no yogis before Patanjali or there were no yogic practices before Him. Patanjali for the first time gave the world a complete 360 degree approach through Ashtanga Yoga. For the first time, someone made a proper documentation of what it takes to be enlightened, how to get enlightened. Swami Nithyananda says Patanjali's Yoga Sutra is one of the rare books, which gives a complete solution.

Over the years, there have been innumerable number of yoga schools and gurus with different chains of thought. Swami Nithyananda says, 'they were developed keeping the human consciousness in mind at that point in time.' Here we are not referring to the pseudo yoga schools with fancy names but the schools which were developed by enlightened masters. Each master saw a certain need for overall human consciousness at that time and accordingly designed yogic practices to elevate the human consciousness.

Now coming to the present, let me answer the obvious question...

Eminent cellular biologists and doctors, like Dr. Bruce Lipton and Dr. Deepak Chopra, agree that the human biological system has changed over the last hundred years both physically and mentally. New synaptic connections have been formed in our brain called cerebral layer which helps us cope with the fast paced lifestyle that has developed over the last century.

Swami Nithyananda says, 'we need something really really strong to remove the negativities which we continuously accumulate in our system due to our lifestyle.'

He says, 'Nithya Yoga is yoga for jet age generation...'

Swami Nithyananda understands both Patanjali and the modern man very well. Through Nithya Yoga, He brings Ashtanga Yoga as it was intended to be keeping in mind the state of current human consciousness.

In the next post, we will see what this is in greater detail. For now enjoy this short entertaining video, which we will show later is directly connected to Nithya Yoga.

-- Sri Nithya Arpanananda

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Yoga - it's MORE than just fashion (Nithya Yoga Series 1)

A few days back, I bumped into a friend of mine early morning.

Me: Hi man, how come you are awake on a Sunday morning?

He: I went for my weekly yoga class...

Me: Wow, thats a nice way to begin a Sunday. So what exactly do you do in the class?

He: We start off with some warm up exercises, then do some asana (postures) and breathing techniques and at last we do shavasana (resting pose) which is my favorite (laughs) because all others are really complex. I simply can't do them. I don't know how people do it.

Me: Thats nice. So how does it feel?

He: Yup. Its a great work out. Theres no doubt about it. Then during that one hour of session, I feel nice, peaceful. But sometimes, it gets really depressing...

Me: Hmm.. I can understand. So whats the plan for today?

He: Man, there are so many things to do. My boss wants a report by tomorrow. So I have to go and work on it. And then a party in the evening.. Man I wish I had 48 hours..

Yoga is such a commonly used word now. The very first thing that comes to our mind when someone tells us about yoga is a slim lady posing in some complex posture. We hear about all kinds of yoga - power yoga, deluxe yoga, blue yoga, super deluxe yoga .. I can go on :)

Most people like my friend associate yoga session with a physical workout and at most with some mental peace during that one hour session. But yoga was meant to be much more than this. It was not a tool, as it has become now, to keep oneself slim. It was not meant to be a fashion statement.

Patanjali, the father of Yoga, developed what is called Ashtanga Yoga as a tool to look inward. It was called a darshana, literally meaning 'looking inward'. Swami Nithyananda says the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga were meant to prepare the mind-body-spirit for enlightenment. That was the depth at which Patanjali proposed the aphorisms on yoga called Yoga Sutra.

Yoga was meant to be a continuous process of being aware of one self but now it has been reduced to a one hour workout session with postures, breathing techniques and meditations. Yoga was meant to be a way of living, a lifestyle wherein one is aware of oneself throughout the 24 hours. From the above conversation, complex postures is not yoga; going back to worrying is not yoga; physical workout is not yoga.

Swami Nithyananda introduced what is called Nithya Yoga, literally meaning, Yoga of Eternity which He says captures the essence of Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga for the jet age generation. Describing Nithya Yoga completely in one post is impossible but one thing that is common to each and everyone who has done Nithya Yoga is that, 'it is out of this world.' People who have been doing yoga for 25 years say, 'I have never seen anything like this before.'

In the next few posts, I will take you through some amazing insights into yoga as told by Swami Nithyananda. For now, I leave you with this short video on Nithya Yoga.

-- Sri Nithya Arpanananda

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Merging of Wisdom and Devotion

2 days ago, all Krishna devotees celebrated with splendor 'Krishna Janmashtami' - the happening of their beloved Lord Krishna in their lives. Although, in most of our previous posts our attempts have been more towards connecting with the intellectual mind, here I would like to put a post on devotion - something that is possible only through the heart, and something beyond.

If you see, there are broadly two categories of people: the first category uses the mind to communicate, the second through the heart.

Most of us brought up in the western way of thinking independently can relate to the first category. We are normally trained to use logic as a tool to reason out everything that we do and bring clarity. However, the problem with this is we do not know how to use logic reasoning fully. Unfortunately, we think through a filter made of past conditionings. This same weapon of logic if used with skill can be used to kill logic itself! However ironic it may sound, all spiritual practices are all about techniques to drop the intellect, drop logic, transcending logic into the no-mind zone. The greatest of the intellectuals like Sri Sankaracharya, Ashtavakra and Ramana Maharsi exposed the Truth using their razor-sharp intellect as a weapon to strip away intellect.

Then, there are great enlightened masters like Ramakrishna whose heart was so ripe that it used to melt at the mere mention of the divine. Just reading about Ramakrishna's life, about the divine emotion of that of a child that just flowed from his heart to the Divine Mother can put anyone to tears. Those who can connect through the heart usually feel one of these five bhava (emotions) for God: 1. Dasya Bhava (that of a servant, as Hanuman shared for Sri Rama), 2. Sakhya Bhava (that of a friend, as Arjuna shared for Krishna), 3. Maatru Bhava (that of a mother, as Yashoda shared for Krishna), 4. Vatsalya Bhava (that of a child that Ramakrishna shared for Kaali) and 5. Madhura Bhava (that of a beloved, as Radha shared for Krishna).

It is said that Krishna was a poornavatar - where all the 5 bhava come together. Many of Nithyananda's devotees feel the same way about Nithyananda, as they relate with him in all these 5 bhava.

Now an important question: If the Ultimate Truth is "Absolute", then how can there be differences in the path of the wisdom and devotion? Swamiji answers this beautifully:

"Let me tell you more about the Triveni Sangam. It is a confluence of the three sacred rivers - Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. While the former two are visible, the third flows underground and becomes visible only at the point of merging. Ganga is the river of Lord Shiva and stands for wisdom or gnana. All Shiva temples are on the banks of the river Ganga. Yamuna is the river of Lord Krishna and stands for devotion or bhakti. All Krishna temples, you will find on the banks of the river Yamuna. When Ganga and Yamuna merge, when wisdom and devotion merge, Saraswati (or knowledge) happens! That is the symbolic significance of Triveni Sangam. Unless this merging happens, you cannot see or experience knowledge. That is why Saraswati remains hidden until the point of merging."

In other words, the peak of wisdom and peak of devotion culminate with the same Truth. I bow in gratitude to all those Masters for their compassion to show us the Truth.

-- In Nithyananda,
Ma Nithyananda Arpana

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Are we a bunch of conditioned monkeys?

A few days ago, I received this email about "The Monkey Experiment" in one of the Nithyananda mailing groups. I thought it was very interesting and that I must share this with you all.

"A group of scientists placed 5 monkeys in a cage and in the middle, a ladder with bananas on the top. Every time a monkey went up the ladder, the scientists soaked the rest of the monkeys with cold water.

After a while, every time a monkey went up the ladder, the others beat up the one on the ladder. After some time, no monkey dare to go up the ladder regardless of the temptation. Scientists then decided to substitute one of the monkeys. The 1st thing this new monkey did was to go up the ladder.

Immediately the other monkeys beat him up. After several beatings, the new member learned not to climb the ladder even though never knew why. After sometime,2nd monkey was substituted and the same occurred. The 1st monkey participated on the beating for the 2nd monkey.

A 3rd monkey was changed and the same was repeated (beating). The 4th was substituted and the beating was repeated and finally the 5th monkey was replaced. What was left was a group of 5 monkeys that even though never received a cold shower, continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder.

If it was possible to ask the monkeys why they would beat up all those who attempted to go up the ladder, I bet you the answer would be.... 'I don't know - that's how things are done around here'

Does it sounds familiar?

This is exactly how we operate. We are so socially conditioned to do things in a particular way that we sometimes even forget that we can operate from a source within us.

Just think of how we are brought up. As children, we would have heard these things being told to us 'Don't jump and run around, everyone is looking at you', 'Don't laugh so loudly, what will people think?', 'Don't accept gifts with your left hand, it's rude' etc. etc.

The layers of conditioning gradually build up and we start using them as guidelines for survival. Are we any different from this bunch of conditioned monkeys?

Here is a related video where Swami
Nithyananda talks about how we create a life style that makes us miss life. Life style is conditioning given by society. Life Style is societal and life is natural. The changes that happen naturally is life.

-- Ma Nithyananda Arpana