All posts tagged witnessing

WITNESSING AS A PATH TO FREEDOM

Image credit: Hartwig HKD THE GIFT OF WITNESSING (Continued from Willingness to Disarm the Ego) The meditation practice known as witnessing provides powerful insights into the ways in which we are attached to our perceptions. It has shown me the parameters of my active ego with extraordinary clarity. Witnessing has provided lasting shifts in the way I think and perceive. It has helped me move from being attached to painful thoughts, to living with greater freedom and joy. Witnessing is an essential part of any sincere meditator’s practice. It is at the heart of yoga and spiritual development. Witnessing is not the same as observing. Because witnessing is rooted in non-attachment, it flowers from the understanding that our senses are limited and do not contain the full picture of reality. Our perceptions are temporary, as they change with circumstance and are subject to our moods and whims. What and how we perceive is coloured by the ups and downs of our ego’s dramas. Through witnessing practice, we meet the moment as it is, without any overlay of how we want it to be. This occurs when we move beyond our attachments to our perceptions, which happens only once we understand that they are not the whole truth. There is a substratum, a deeper unchanging truth, that…

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Fall Into Being: Preferences and Non-Attachment

Some students and clients have asked me in the past about the nature of vairagya (non-attachment). Does it mean that you don’t care how things are? Does it mean that you aren’t supposed to prefer one thing to another? In an ultimate state, a fully realized state, there is no difference and nothing to prefer. Amma once ate glass, used tealeaves and dog droppings, seeing no difference between these and delicious food. I don’t know about you, but I am not there yet! I still do see a difference between eating glass and eating a wholesome, fresh, organic meal. On the journey towards enlightenment, it is important to understand the difference between non-attachment and preference. We can practice non-attachment and still acknowledge our preferences, as long as we understand that our preferences are still attached to the temporal and not rooted in the infinite. It may be tempting to use the idea of non-attachment to disconnect from the moment and deny our preferences, instead of learning to be present to witnessing our likes and dislikes. One of my clients put up with a destructive situation for years because she felt she was practicing non-attachment, without seeing that she was actually disconnecting from her own heart and soul directive to move on. I have a strong preference…

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Witnessing: Meeting The Moment As It Is – Part 2

Continued from Part 1 By really listening to what my body was telling me, I soon found myself letting go of the idea that my meditation practice had to look a certain way, that is, sitting upright kneeling on a cushion. As I listened to the intelligence within my body that is a part of the wisdom of Nature, my headache began to show me ways in which I was not in balance. I listened, without agenda, to a natural impulse that rose effortlessly within my being. Its agenda was to guide me into greater integration. Staying present with what was here and now, without judgment, what naturally arose is the impulse to uncross my legs and roll onto the floor. (My habituated mind would say: “No. Can’t do that. That is not meditation. That is nap time!”). I let go of any distracting thoughts and proceeded to trust the unfolding. While watching my breath lying on my back, open arms, knees bent and feet flat on the floor, soon the notion floated graciously in front of my mind’s eye in a field of possibility: “What if I could totally relax, in this moment, now?” It felt like a divine invitation. The quality of my breath effortlessly deepened. I began to feel my whole body soften…

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Witnessing: Meeting the Moment As It Is – Part 1

When I am not on tour, my life is busy preparing to go back on the road. These past months have been full on with new musical releases, video and show production and website launching. Thankfully, I have a dedicated meditation practice that helps me revitalize and keep a big picture while being able to be present in the here and now. Every day, as soon as I wake up, I wash up and head downstairs to my cushion to start my day from a centered place. When I arrived at my meditation seat the other day, all I could feel was my pounding head. I had not had enough sleep, and woke up with a headache. For most of us, our knee-jerk reaction to pain is to either try to push it away with denial, medication and temporary pleasures, or run towards it by projecting judgment or anger at it, as though it were a roadblock to our happiness. In a meditative mood, I welcomed my headache into my field of awareness and allowed it to be part of my practice. After all, it was what this moment contained. Sitting quietly in a relaxed yet attentive manner, I opened to it, as though it were trying to communicate something to me. I did not prod.…

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Tantra Yoga: What’s Sex Got To Do With It? – Part 1: Hatha and Tantra Yoga

“Yoga teachers and how-to books seldom mention that the discipline began as a sex cult — an omission that leaves many practitioners open to libidinal surprise.” Before reading the above comment by William J. Broad in a recent New York Times article, I thought of the Times as a resourceful newspaper with trustworthy articles that were well researched. That quickly changed, and I reminded myself that reporters are mere mortals who do make mistakes. I wrote about Tantra in a previous blog entry, as it is a long-standing interest and integrated part of my life. I felt called to share a bit more on the topic in response to the article linked above. Quantum physics tells us that the “I” we hold onto so dearly is just an illusion. It tells us that in reality, everything is interconnected, not separate as we perceive it to be. It says that our life is more like a creative projection than hard, factual truth. These thoughts are not the propriety of modern science, but are at the root of mystical traditions world wide, and at the heart of Tantra, a spiritual tradition that, not unlike its offshoot Hatha Yoga, is greatly misunderstood today. Tantrism, which made its appearance around the middle of the first millennium AD, pioneered the view,…

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Ask Parvati 43: The Present Is The Present – Part 1: The Bounty of Boundaries

Problems May Actually Be Opportunities Dear Parvati, Someone said to me the other day that even the things about myself that I don’t like are actually gifts. How can this be true? Sometimes it’s easier to learn about ourselves by observing others. I have found watching people in my life, (at times working my way though judgment, blame, anger, guilt, envy or jealousy – the whole range of emotions one can project onto another), I have been inadvertently taught by those around me. Take one friend of mine, let’s call her Suzie. She is a wonderfully sensitive person who loves the arts, nature and has a real affinity for healing. She also is an addict. Suzie courageously goes to SLA meetings (sex and love anonymous) to face her co-dependency tendencies and to help her find the inner strength to look at and heal her addictive patterns. Through her friendship, I have found myself learning to be present for her ups and downs, finding new ways to express understanding, compassion and patience. I have also had a powerful mirror to face parts of my shadow, such as tendencies to judge, become self-righteous or impatient. Recently Suzie and I were talking, when suddenly I found myself suggesting that I felt her addiction could be seen as a tool,…

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Ask Parvati 36: Compromise, Acceptance and Getting the Love You Want – Part 5: Getting The Love You Need

GETTING THE LOVE YOU NEED (Continued from Getting The Love You Want)     Relationships are a path for personal growth. In my opinion, they can be a fast track way for spiritual growth. Perhaps some of you have had the experience of feeling great when you are on your own, but when you get into a relationship, all of a sudden you find out all sorts of areas for personal growth as your shadow gets provoked. None of that seemed to exist when you were on your own. So where did it come from? The ego assumes it must be your partner, so you conclude you’re with the wrong partner. Truth is, these vasanas (or negative tendencies) were within you all along and have been simply triggered by the relationship.   Of course, it is healthy to be in a relationship where you find the support and safety you need to explore and ultimately release these vasanas. This is why a healthy relationship is more like a co-creative workshop for spiritual growth than a walk in the park. They amplify our shadow and our potential. They bring out hidden tendencies and show us who we truly are. When we are willing to accept the fuel for growth and let our ego guard down, the workshop…

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Ask Parvati 36: Compromise, Acceptance and Getting the Love You Want – Part 4: Getting The Love You Want

GETTING THE LOVE YOU WANT (Continued from Acceptance and Insight)   Intimate relationships can be complex. We say we want to find love, yet we are often attracted to people from whom we find it hard to get what we feel we need. Some psychotherapists suggest that unconsciously, we seek to fix the wounds of our childhood through our intimate partners. It is like we want our mummy or we want our daddy through them. In fact, certain theories suggest that our unseen wounds help us find our “perfect” match. The problem is, the person we find at first to be “perfect”, turns out to re-enact the very pains we experienced as a child. One morning, we wake up to find that we are not in relationship with our ideal mate, but with a replica of our clingy mother or our aggressive father. Then we ask, how did we get here? Unhappy, we push against what we see and inadvertently move into power struggles, trying to fix the other person, who once seemed to fill us up just the way we needed. We think of breaking up and may even choose to do so. Or we choose silent resignation, because, unwilling to risk change, we sum up that this is just the way relationships are –…

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Ask Parvati 36: Compromise, Acceptance and Getting the Love You Want – Part 3: Acceptance and Insight

ACCEPTANCE AND INSIGHT (Continued from Acceptance Versus Resignation)   Let’s look at a simple relationship example, perhaps one you have experienced before. Your partner wants to go to the movies. You really want to stay home and tackle some unfinished household chores you both have left lingering that weigh on you. You don’t get how he/she could want to go to the movies when these chores are pending. He/she does not get why you are so fixated on chores when there is fun to be had.   This pattern has been going on for some time in your relationship. In fact, when the topic of movies comes up, you feel resentment. In your eyes, your partner wants to “goof off” — sigh! — again. You want to be practical and move forward, unburden your lives by facing things that need attention. You don’t want distractions. You want action.   From your partner’s point of view, you don’t have enough fun. You are too serious, wanting to plan for the future rather than live for the now and go out on the town and have fun. He/she feels you don’t go out enough, and he/she needs more lightness in the relationship. Staying home and doing chores feels too confining.   If you were to give in, perhaps…

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Ask Parvati 35: The Gift in Gossip – Part 4: Discernment

DISCERNMENT   (Continued from Gossip Hurts)   You ask, “Is there a way to know when someone is truly practicing satya or they just talk a good game?” We need to learn discernment along the spiritual path.   I originally wrote the text below for my Seeing Past the Shimmer blog entry, but feel it applies here too, so I share it with some slight modification: I believe we are all a lot more alike than different. I would say that the light you see in your friend is a reflection of the light you see in yourself. Conversely, the shadow you sense in him/her is a reflection of your own discomfort with your own inner shadow. Whether you are acquaintances or are best of friends, whether you hang out every day for the rest of your life or never see the person again, is secondary to the opportunity to grow from any encounter and deepen your own spiritual awareness. I would see this person as a gift from the universe for you to learn greater discernment, practice tuning into what you are feeling in the moment and act in a way that honours your inner voice.   Next time you are around a person and you question their sincerity, ask yourself: Do I feel expansive now?…

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