Please feel free to read this blog and join in. I hope you will write something inspirational, inspiring, spiritual, controversial, amusing, engaging or just plain run of the mill. But please don't be brusque, churlish or licentious.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Yoga and meditation research has dramatically increased in just the last two years. The results of these findings have proven to be highly favorable for both physical and mental improvements. Here are 42 more synopses of studies in the last two years (2014-2015) of just the yoga part. I will post the meditation results next, in about two days.

I am working on this year's (2016) studies as we speak. I will post them as soon as I get it completed. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Yoga and meditation are beginning to be looked upon favorably by the scientific and medical communities as a way to improve people's health both physically and mentally. It wasn't long ago that these practices were thought of as foolish and just a waste of time. Now, thanks to public involvement in these practices and a lot of good scientific research an entirely different light is being shed upon these enlightening practices.

Over the past four years I've been compiling lists of research conducted around the world in major institutions on these two very important practices.

Attached are synopses of thirty research projects on yoga and meditation for 2013. I included only studies that I considered truly worthy of listing due to their validity and reliability. The thirty projects are on eight pages. I hope you enjoy them.
I will post years 2014-2015 in a couple of days.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Should a Yoga Teacher be Required to do the Pose?

Is it necessary for a yoga teacher to be able to do the poses he or she teaches? This is a question that was presented to me in a discussion with some yoga teacher candidates. This is indeed a good question because if a teacher cannot, for example, do the down dog due to some physical disability such as loss of legs, should he/she refrain from teaching students to do such a pose? 

The question requires us to balance the art and science of directing yoga students with speech with that of demonstrating the pose. It seems as though that yoga teaching requires the teacher to be able to eloquently and intelligently impart direction with both speaking and demonstration. 

When I teach yoga I am usually doing the pose while talking, but not always. Sometimes I am walking around lightly adjusting students while talking. Some teachers I know hardly ever do the poses while teaching and do a marvelous job. 

However, with that being said, we must take into consideration who is being taught. Needles to say, all students are not the same. They come in all sizes, ages, and abilities. Not only that, a student can have off days and on days with varying degrees in between. Putting all of the variables together a teacher can never count on having the same class from one day to the next.

A teacher must be able to "feel the class" so to speak. Feeling the class, in the classic sense, means being able to pick up on the students' energy levels and capabilities for the moment. This, for the most part, takes experience and some of it can be taught.

Carefully listening and talking to as well as watching students before and during the first five minutes of class is prime time for picking up on their energy levels and capabilities. Simply asking  students how they are feeling is the easiest and most typical way of picking up on their overall well-being but it is not always reliable. Many students are reluctant to complain or give suggestions in a group setting.

On the other hand there are subtle signs or signals that any teacher can pick up on in a one-on-one situation such as the student's voice inflection (tone, accentuation, stress, cadence, rhythm) and mannerisms (out of the norm gestures, way of walking, facial expressions,etc.).

The not so subtle signals are a little more difficult to interpret by the teacher. Such signals may be said to be more esoteric, in other words, more abstract and hidden from view. These signals are what I refer to as the wave vibrations that are given off while the class is underway. 

A teacher cannot be taught how to pick up on these wave vibrations; the skill must be acquired through continued practice of teaching. Being "in tune," so to speak, to the various and ever so mild nuances of students may take several years to develop. 

Probably the best way to develop the ability of tuning in to students wave vibrations is to learn how to be totally aware of one's own self, others, and the immediate environment. This type of awareness requires an astute attention to detail in all aspects of body, breath, and mind as well as actions of other people and the multi-faceted aspects of the physical environment. This is no easy task. It requires full attention to detail in the present moment. This is total awareness. Total awareness as been discussed several times on the blog.

So, back to the original question. Should a yoga teacher be required to do the pose? The answer is - it depends on the teacher. If the teacher is attuned to the students' abilities, needs, problems, and well-being before and during class and also has a good knowledge of how to do the pose, then there is really no need to do the pose.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

How to overcome negative emotions and live a more calm, peaceful and joyful life.

When you experience love do you ask what it is? No, it just happens. You get caught up in the feeling and the energy that the emotion produces. You don't need to ask what it is. It is obvious what it is and you know what it's for.

It is beyond thought, beliefs, concepts and questions. You just go with the flow of energy that's inside you. There is no need to try and dissect it. The energy is so great and so wonderful you automatically know what it's for.

On the other side of the emotion coin are emotions like hate, worry, lust and sadness. They too are energy but do not affect the body in the same way love and other positive emotions do. In the case of negative emotions, the energy is blocked in the body so much it hurts.

Some of us try to suppress these emotions, block them out or cover them up. We might go out and buy more stuff or eat more food. We try to bury the negative emotions so deep under our skin we hope they never resurface. But that never works. They will eventually work their way to the surface in unimaginable ways. And when that happens they are ten times worse. All hell breaks loose.

When the natural flow of a river is blocked by a dam, its energy is impeded and lies dormant behind the dam. The water can become stagnant and polluted. It stops being a river of free flowing water and turns into a reservoir of blocked energy.

The same is true for energy that lies blocked in the body. It quickly pools and becomes stagnant and polluted. It feels like a tight knot all waded up in the core of the body.

If the energy is allowed to fester it will soon ravage the insides looking for a way to get out. Ulcers, anxiety, depression and cancer can and do occur very rapidly.

The dam has to break and the energy must be set loose to flow freely again. Energy in the body is the same way. It must be allowed to flow freely.

What causes energy to be blocked in the body in the first place? The answer lies within the thinking mind. If someone says you are stupid and look ugly, an immediate thought and then a negative emotion occurs. In the beginning the emotion is anger which can turn into hatred.

Hatred festers and grows and then the mind can't get away from thinking about it. Hatred blocks the energy flow and a tight knot develops deep inside. So deep there seems to be no way to get rid of it. If it continues to grow it will permeate the entire body from the inside out.

What to do

The energy block must be dissolved. The solution is to relax. We can begin by relaxing the face. The face is directly connected to the heart. Think of a bad moment, make a big frown and squeeze your eyes shut. Notice how it feels in the middle of the chest.

Take a big breath in and with a slow breath out relax every muscle in the face. Next relax the shoulders. Go through the whole body this way, one body part at a time. Each time we relax a body part take a deep breath in and a slow breath out.

We can follow the energy by allowing the mind to focus on the breath as it moves into and through the body. Where the breath goes energy will follow. With the mind's eye follow the flow of energy as it begins to open and release wherever the blockage rests.

The next, hardest and last thing to do is speak to the person. We must speak to them personally either by phone or directly in person and say "I love you." We must be calm, confident and truthful in our own mind. A letter won't work. It is the magic of the  voice, ours and theirs, that finally breaks the blockage. This is compassion and understanding not only for the other person but for ourselves as well.

We need to tell them also how important they are. This is the final breaker of the block. People love to be told how they are important. Talk to them without becoming agitated. Talk to them about your family and their family, jobs, likes, trips, etc.  It will feel like a heavy weight is being lifted off your back and shoulders when the energy begins to flow freely again.

After we do this we will be able to experience the next negative emotion without absorbing it or identifying with it. We will know what to expect from both energy and body. There will be no blockage and energy will continue to flow unimpeded.

When we are able to act, not react, with love and compassion we are able to illuminate from within ourselves as well as beyond ourselves. By being connected to the continuous flow of energy we will be able to stay calm the next time someone tries pressing our buttons.



Wednesday, November 9, 2016

November 9, 2016

Donald Trump is the United State's new president and it is time that we all acknowledge the fact and come together as one people. We cannot continue to fight one another and be divided as a nation. If we do not, we will continue to sink deeper and deeper into chaos, disorder, and confusion among ourselves. A divided nation cannot survive.

Let's stop the name calling and join one another in uniting our values and principles into a unified and dignified force. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Identity & Suffering

Buddhism sees suffering as the main source of all human problems and says that our suffering becomes our identity.  We suffer therefore we are, is the Buddhist catchphrase. There is a problem with this proposal because suffering really doesn't cause or produce one's identity.  It's the other way around.  Our identity becomes our suffering.

Even before a baby is born it is already beginning to develop its identity.  The fetus feels itself floating in amniotic fluid and bonds with its mother's voice.  When the baby emerges from the womb it already knows who its mother is and begins identifying with various sights, sounds, smells and feelings.  

At this point it has no ego an there is no duality. Soon the child will understand that it has a name and that its mother is another person. Duality is born and the baby begins to develop an ego with the understanding that there is also a father. As the child grows it learns that it lives in a house that looks different than the neighbor's house and so on.  With further learning and growth the child develops more identity and more of an ego. Along with the ego comes values. Duality becomes well established at this point and the ego (values) continues to grow. 

There is nothing wrong with having an ego but a problem may arise when the person believes that its values are better or worse than someone else's values and attempts to assert those values with force. That is how arguments, fights and wars are started.  Identity creates duality, duality becomes the ego, and the ego can cause suffering. 

Suffering can be abated through the practice of mindful meditation - observing thoughts.  Being able to see and understand egoic thoughts when they occur allows us to remain at peace with self and others.  Although the practice takes patience and persistence the rewards are well worth it.  This is elucidated in the ancient text Yoga Sutra by Patanjali.