Friday, June 25, 2010

The River of Satva - The Path of Illumination

“Where the river is deepest, it makes the least noise” Proverb

Welcome to the River of Satva where the yogic perspective helps remove obstacles so our consciousness can flow delightfully in the stream of everyday life.

The Vibration of Now and Its Location
Yoga, union of spirit with body/mind, is a pathway that leads toward illumination, where the gleam of the star spark or soul can be experienced even if only momentarily. Yogis believe that prana, Sanskrit for life force, flows along subtle energy channels in the body called nadis. The most important nadis are susumna, the fire channel, flowing up the center of the spine, while pingala, the sun channel flows to the right of the spine and ida, the moon channel flows to the left of the spine. The word nadi is derived from nada, meaning sound vibration, which refers to the cosmic principle that all atomic energy is ever in flux. The nadi vibrate like strings of a violin and are therefore associated with a particular rate of movement or speed. Have you not heard a tune and felt your heart strummed like a guitar? (They would have said lute in the old days)

The speed through which energy moves in each channel is designated by the “gunas” or three qualities. These three qualities of speed, satva, rajas and tamas govern how matter first comes into expression and later dissolves into the creative vortex or cosmic source which sounds more like quantum physics than what we think of as yoga. In this theme of the creation myth, the big bang occurred when satva, rajas and tamas came out of balance and the manifest cosmos spun into being. According to yoga, when these three forces return into harmonic balance, it is said the universe will resolve itself and return to nothingness - zippo, be breathed back into the creative font. To me what is more relevant is how to use this information to create stuff, like rejuvenating my body, now in my life. Reading what the ancient sages said about the gunas gives hints as to how matter emerges from the void and dissolves into the void. Perhaps the “Secret” was first written in the yogic texts.

The Duo Waving Pulsation – The Dance of the Creative Organism
Breath is the link between body and mind. When we take our first breath we are born; our last breath marks death’s doorway. Inhalation relates to the shift of consciousness from core, font of presence in our heart center, towards the periphery, our skin. Yogis call this the “will to desire” to individualize, to differentiate. Breath exhalation moves awareness from the periphery towards the core. This phase of pulsation is called the “will to liberate”. This duo pulsation of yin and yang, moon and sun, out and in within the mortal being creates a friction and a perpetual motion machine during life that is said by Sufis to keep the universe spinning. Through breath, the universal force enters our lungs, marries to the thoughts and words we generate, is shaped and then twirls out to the world as a differentiated fruit of consciousness.

The Wish Wash Cycle
So long as the polarity of this dance is maintained in balance, our energy keeps flowing. Upon attempting to claim ownership or grasp onto the fruit of creativity we twirl forth, the ego is born. Thought of in this way, the ego appears to be a phase of consciousness where wishing - core to periphery differentiating phase - and making new stuff did not complete or balance itself with washing – periphery to core liberation phase. The more this imbalance repeats itself the more energy builds up in the ego function and the more plump the ego grows. Yet with each successive wish or desire that the ego attaches ownership to, the more the energy slows down until the soul feels entrapped in the body.

Our consciousness, which includes our mind, is a moving field of awareness that can choose which rate of vibration it follows provided we are not weighted down by attachments as described above. We can choose to move our breath and our thoughts in harmonic satva balance or zoom at break neck speed or bump along depressively.

The Three Gunas - Again
Yoga ascribes a location for the main vessels that carry the energy of the 3 gunas.

1. Satva (susumna-spinal center location) – Fire – luminous, clear, blissful
2. Rajas (pingala – right of spine) – Sun - An aggressive ratio, dynamic activity
3. Tamas (ida- left of spine) – Moon - A receptive quality of energy, pausing, heavy

Whatever is the dominant speed of our breath and thoughts will be at the tip of spear of awareness. If we select satva, the middle river, where the water is deeper, there is more energy to play with. In the deep calm waters of the River of Satva there is a balance of the Wish Wash Cycle. Energy flows freely and the autonomic nervous system can find its equilibrium. With less resistance there is less friction upon our body which may equate to reduced aging. The proverb in my title suggests that where the river is deepest, it makes the least noise. With abundant energy flow there is less chaos and struggling and more biological order. The River of Satva represents the clear calm waters of balanced pulsation, sun and moon in harmony, where the polarity of inhalation and exhalation and inner and outer activity is well regulated.

The universe lies within. What the ancients described as the origin of the vast universe occurs also in the microcosm. Theoretically, with the satva balanced quality of action at the point of our arrow of consciousness energy does not stall. Therefore creative forward drive and our breathing can become even and stabilized. Using music as imagery, the sound of satva is the fundamental or center of a note whereas the rajas and tamas wavelengths are sharps and flats. Put simply, everything is composed of vibration often called the music of the spheres.

Share Your Fruit and Be Free!
In the Yoga Sutras written by Patanjali some twenty five hundred years ago, the precise methodology of the yoga recipe for self liberation is laid out in fascinating detail. The workings of the mind are explained in 196 aphorisms. The soul spark, called the Atman, must learn through trial and error to differentiate itself. It comes to know its one power as distinct from the fruit it creates and that which it creates through, the vessels of the mind and body. Be not attached to the fruits of action is the recommended Yoga Sutra instruction. The seer is not the seen. Have fun creating the seen, the fruit and then share! This is the path to freedom. In the game of life, as mortal beings, we tend to become lost in misidentification. The demanding ego creates craziness. Me, mine and more, more, more is the ego’s song – desiring, wishing, wanting, it never ceases so long as the ego aspect dominates. We have that choice to transcend our habits and be rebooted by the Wish Wash Cycle thus balancing our gunas, the fire, sun and moon rivers within.

Yoga – the Quickie Definition
Yoga is described as the ability to direct the mind towards an object, - in this case, soul’s intended liberation from misidentification – and be able to sustain that momentum – which refers to consistent speed – without distraction – which implies continual forward drive - through acquired mental focus and control. Patanjali’s eight fold plan with 10 sub-categories, known as The Eight Limbs of Yoga, was extracted from earlier yoga works, the Vedas. This road map is ever useful stay on liberation’s course.

From Duhkha – suffering - to Sukha – easefulness (Sanskrit words)
Patanjali’s plan, limb one, called the Yamas, comprise the five social disciplines of non-violence, honesty, non-stealing, sexual moderation and non-coveting. The Yoga Sutras explain that painful effects or a feeling of duhkha, constriction, occur when our actions veer away from practice of the Yamas. The mind is prone to getting stuck in the Wish Wash Cycle and then being influenced by negative, complex and obsessive traits called the nine obstacles. Fear begins with the ignorance which halts the duo pulsation. Once the energy stalls it might be likened to E.T. (as in the movie by that name) being left on earth separated from his mother ship – the way to get home. We dream we are lost. Our ears close and we don’t hear the voice of wisdom. The River of Satva is still singing but we may not be skillful enough to hear so we make poor decisions which further enslave us. We contract under the assumed weight of isolation, griped by fear and this can causes secondary reactions, such as anger and then lies to cover up our shame.

Hence the first two Yamas of non-violence (Sanskrit/ahimsa), and honesty (satya) begin a downward spiral away from peace and harmony and towards increasing duhkha. Adhering to the Yama then supports an upward moving spiral from duhkha constriction to Sukha which in Sanskrit means openness or easefulness. Following the path of yoga helps us undo the feeling of duhkha and its outward sign: dysfunctional stories of woeful dramas. The River of Sattva or the Path of Illumination - is The Middle River - where the channel runs deep and quiet, where Sukha, easefulness reigns. Meditation and breath practice are two important tools of re-tuning our mind engine and nervous system to a corrective pace. Yogic postures, asanas, help raise the body up to the level of the mind, move our fluids along, balance hormones and increase our muscular strength. It is best to study yoga from a qualified teacher, I found this to be true for me regardless of how many years I have studied.

Liberating the Force for Fun and Health
The soul’s natural origin is peace and its rhythm is joy. When attachment and its symptom, fear, are released, consciousness organically powers the parasympathetic nervous system, the relaxation response. This system enhances sleep, bodily detoxification and digestion thus reinforcing the pleasure of right living.

The still living yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar wrote “Physical health is not a commodity to be bargained for. Nor can it be swallowed in the form of drugs or pills. It has to be earned through sweat. It is something that we must build up. You have to create within yourself the experience of beauty, liberation and infinity. This is health”.

The ancient yogis expressed the expansion and contraction of the universe as the breath of God. This current or universal wind can be experienced as a vibration felt in the bones of our inner ear. The Yogis call this Nada, the inner sound. Fear based thoughts block our listening and eventually dull our inner senses and our outer organs of sense perception leading to more and more aggressive desire. The Yoga Sutras explain how to reverse this addictive or duhkha effect and use the released energy for rejuvenation.

My Tract toward Samadhi
Poising myself in harmony with the Wish Wash Cycle – the dual pulsation - by dropping attachments and offering my fruit, my gifts, to share with others, helps me balance my breath and brainwaves. Following this path, my soul is free to flaps its wings with new found energy. Now there is a feeling of more space, openness, Sukha, so that a loving feeling can quiver my heart. This reminds me of who I am - the peace that is already my nature. I practice yoga everyday because I see good results and now trust this process of growth.

My Wish for You
This state of finding and merging with one’s inner calling and knowing perfect absorption into the present moment is called Samadhi in yoga. The essence of the state of Samadhi is not a trance but a wave dance where the soul, mind and body all move in a coordinated and syncopated speed like a starlit symphony. May we each discover the bliss of riding the River of Satva - the Path of Illumination and awaken to sing our true soul song. Just as the suns and stars shine equally upon all, may we also radiate our loving awareness to all we encounter on this remarkable journey we call life and be deeply nourished by love’s replenishing rebound.

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