Archive for July, 2013

Thanks to Cindy for this post.

Western psychotherapy has hardly paid any attention to the experience and interpretation of disturbed physical sensations and action patterns. Yoga is one of the Asian traditions that clearly help reintegrate body and mind. For someone to heal from PTSD [post-traumatic stress syndrome], one must learn how to control bodily reflexes. PTSD causes memory to be stored at a sensory level—in the body. Yoga offers a way to reprogram automatic physical responses. Mindfulness, learning to become a careful observer of the ebb and flow of internal experience, and noticing whatever thoughts, feelings, body sensations and impulses emerge are important components in healing PTSD….

What most people do not realize is that trauma is not the story of something awful that happened in the past, but the residue of imprints left behind in people’s sensory and hormonal systems. Traumatized people often are terrified of the sensations in their own bodies. Most trauma-sensitive people need some form of body oriented psychotherapy or bodywork to regain a sense of safety in their bodies.

These excerpt are from the interview “Yoga and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” with Bessel van der Kolk, MD, Integral Yoga Magazine 2009 issue, pages 12-13, source http://www.traumacenter.org/clients/MagInside.Su09.p12-13.pdf.

Thanks to Cindy for introducing me to On Being and the podcast “Restoring the Body” which can be heard on  http://www.onbeing.org/program/restoring-the-body-bessel-van-der-kolk-on-yoga-emdr-and-treating-trauma/5801.

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Source: Wikipedia, Candle,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candle

What is Guru Purnima and why is it celebrated? Here are some links to help gain an understanding on the importance of guru (can be inner guru) as we pay our respects to all of them, from every culture and tradition. At the heart of yoga is guru.

Even though millions practice hatha yoga in the Western world, the concept of guru is understandably difficult.

Guru Tradition

Spiritual knowledge is a matter of guru parampara, guru-disciple lineage. It is handed down from guru to disciple. Study the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. You will have a comprehensive understanding of this fact. The highest spiritual wisdom experienced by the seers of truth in the ancient times has been passed down to the present day through an unbroken line of traditional teachers. 

Here are the characteristics of a real guru. If you find them in any individual accept him at once as your guru. The real guru is one who has full knowledge of the Self and the Vedas. He does not expect anything from anybody. He possesses an exemplary character. He has equal vision and a balanced mind. He is free from likes and dislikes, joy and sorrow, egoism, anger, lust, greed and pride. He is an ocean of mercy. In his presence, one gets peace and elevation of mind. He is childlike, full of joy, bliss and wisdom.

He who is able to clear your doubts, he who is sympathetic in your sadhana, he who does not disturb your beliefs but helps you on from where you are, he in whose very presence you feel spiritually elevated – he is your guru. The guru’s tender smile radiates light, bliss, joy, knowledge and peace. He is a blessing to suffering humanity. His instructions are very impressive. He can give practical, easy lessons to control the mind and the senses. He is a friend and guide to those who have surrendered to him. Whatever he says is Upanishadic teaching. The guru knows the spiritual path. He knows the pitfalls and snares on the way. He gives timely warning to his students. He showers grace on their heads. All agonies, miseries, tribulations and taints of worldliness vanish in his presence.

Source: Reproduced with permission from “Guru, the Guide” by Swami Sivananda, July 2009 issue of Yoga Magazine, published by the Bihar School of Yoga.

For the full article, please refer to http://www.yogamag.net/archives/2009/gjuly09/gtg.shtml.

Celebration Honors Guru

For centuries the saints who wander the depth and breadth of India have made it their custom to stay in one place throughout the rainy season. During this period, which lasts about four months, they intensify their own practices, organize group practices, and sometimes offer an in-depth study—particularly open to the public—of a scripture or a particular aspect of spiritual practice. This special period is known as chatur masa or chatur masyam. It begins on the day of the full moon in the month of ashadha, which corresponds roughly to the month of July in the Western calendar. This day is called Guru Purnima and is dedicated to the guru lineage.

Many Western spiritual centers celebrate Guru Purnima at the full moon in July. The following address, given by Sri Swami Rama on the occasion of Guru Purnima in 1987, reminds us of the true meaning of this special day.

In all spiritual traditions this day is considered to be very holy. For on this day students become aware that life is not to be lived only in the external world—that there is something higher, deeper, than what they have been doing. They become aware of their internal states. But to find this something you need a guide. Then it becomes easy. Your guide shares his experiences, which have been imparted by his guide. There is a long chain of sages and traditions, and they impart knowledge to their students lovingly and selflessly.

Source: “Swami Rama on Guru Purnima” by Swami Rama, July 13, 2012, Yoga International.

For the full article please refer to http://yogainternational.com/article/view/swami-rama-on-guru-purnima?utm_source=Himalayan+Institute+%26+Yoga+International+Newsletter&utm_campaign=7ffe888c10-Guru_Purnima7_17_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_84244cf636-7ffe888c10-198275089

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Source: Wikipedia Nelumbo nucifera

Mahasri Yoga is a collective presence and effort. So many of you have contributed in the effort of giving. As we offer ourselves through self-less giving, this Guru Purnima (July 22) a wire transfer of funds went to Sivananda Math from the sale of the CD Being in Flow: Meditations for Peace, Insight, Clarity, and Focus. Sivananda Math is the charitable trust for Bihar School of Yoga.

Together, we have helped locally toward increasing awareness of the self-less work done by Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative (BVMI) in providing free primary and preventative care to the uninsured. Funds were raised for BVMI on July 16 through the special two-hour session Yoga for Anxiety and Fear.

All these have been shared efforts of the community. We recognize that yoga is not just about our individual selves and it is not just a mat practice. It is also about our communities. We are the threads of the fabric of our families, which collectively form our communities. We are all closely intertwined.

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Here is a partial list of books I went through to understand anxiety and fear. Some of the books have been reviewed on www.mahasriyoga.com.

Helpful in alphabetical order

1. Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

by Tara Brach

2. Man’s Search for Meaning

by Viktor Frankl

3. Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning (not an easy read)

by Viktor Frankl

4. Mindfulness in Plain English

by Bhante Gunaratana

5. Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English 

by Bhante Gunaratana

6. Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm

by Thich Nhat Hanh

7. The Living Gita

by Swami Satchidananda

8. Four Chapters on Freedom: Commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali  (not an easy read)

by Swami Satyananda Saraswati

9. Buddha (eight volumes of graphic novels)

by Osamu Tezuka

10. Raja Yoga: Conquering the Internal Nature

by Swami Vivekananda

Not so helpful

11. When Fear Falls Away: The Story of a Sudden Awakening

by Jan Frazier

12. When Bad Things Happen to Good People

by Harold Kushner

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