Sunday, November 25, 2007

Mastery Over the Modification of the Mind

Speed Kills
I am not writing to say that I have found enlightenment, although I guess that it would not be far off the mark to say that I have found the secret - speed kills. We spend about 30% of our lives asleep (roughly guesstimating), and sleep is meant to be a time of perfect peace equivalent to samadhi (bliss or enlightenment) - a time for the body and mind to process the stimuli of the day and reattain equilibrium.

However, if one's mind never slows in the day, and through lifestyle we even become accustomed to our minds not slowing at night, how can we ever get even a moment of true peace in our lives? If our sleep state is restless with thoughts and ideas via half sleep and restless dreams, how can we expect our waking life to be one of peace?

At times I reach a point of desperation, and have actually uttered the oxymoronic: "I am desperate to find peace of mind."

Well, as I mentioned, I already know that the key is to slow down the mind. To that end, I have to increase my focus on meditation and calming my mind instead of constantly brutalizing and blaming my body, which is, after all, only displaying the symptoms of the stress and speed I carry all through the wakeful day and the restless night.

This is not a sudden swing in my ideas of direction or plans, but is a development or refinement of what I planned to do in India/Nepal from the start. This also in no way implies that I will focus any less on yoga or my body - yoga is a mediation, after all - but I do need to go more directly to the source of my stress, agitation and disquiet.

I have begun my mediation in a rudimentary and basic way via yoga, ana pana (focusing on the breathe) and pranayama (yogic breathing). I would say that I have not been so "successful" thus far, but that would be overly harsh - after all, if you are an infant and you crawl, you are not judged "unsuccessful" at walking!

So I will keep you updated as my journey progresses, and wish you all peace and balance in your mind, your body and your spirit :)

Friday, November 02, 2007

"Shocking Asia": Notes from the Ashram

Apologies for my long absence, which I can only assure you is due to lack of Internet/PC resources rather than reticence on my part.

I currently reside at the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (SVYASA) campus, about 35Km outside of bustling Bangalore city - and a world away from anywhere I have ever been or thought I would be.

Shocking Asia
I recall one morning back in the halcyon late 90s - summer '98 maybe - when I got back to my drafty apartment in Samsong-dong, Seoul, to find my friend Julien stretched on the couch watching a 70's vintage documentary called "Shocking Asia". The video chronicled the "shocking" social, religious, cultural and (of course) sexual practices of North and South Asia.

I walked in on the "shocking" site of dozens of Indians lined up outside a temple drinking water and ritualistically regurgitating it into a trough on the ground. Hmmmm.

And here I was on Monday morning, in rural India, practicing Vaman Dhauti (better known to many as vomiting) with a group of fellow participants. Crazy, no? But Vaman Dhauti is but one of the six Shatkarmas, or internal cleansing practices, that are regularly practiced in yoga.

And here I was...

Sacrificing Normal
Shocking or not, I can only follow this path of thinking to the inevitable realization that whatever is "normal," I probably gave up any claim to it many years ago, when Korea somehow became "home" instead of "shocking" and "exotic."

I have recently realized, during a meditation on comfort where I was asked to find my safest and happiest refuge in the world, that my Dad's place in Economy - which I have only visited 3 or 4 times - is that place for me.

Which really leaves me with no home to return to (althuogh Economy is one I can visit, and hope that I have many more chances to see), no community to slot back into (as my abortive foray into the USA proved) and no concept of "normalcy" to hang my hat on.

The ultimate "globalized" citizen?

Finding Balance
And, more importantly, exaggerating the importance for me, personally, to find a balance within my heart, mind, body and soul - so that normal will be carried around in me and so that home will be me, myself and I.

Wherever I lay my hat I call my home...

4:30 am
At at this point of the search, that "home" includes this ashram, and rising at 4:30am for:
5:00 Meditation
5:30 Yoga asana/shatkarma
6:30 Bath/wash
7:30 Gita chanting/lesson
8:15 Breakfast
8:45 Karma yoga song
10:00 Lecture
11:00 Pranayama (yogic breathing)
12:00 Meditation
1:00 Lunch
2:30 Meeting with counselor
4:00 Yoga Asana
5:00 Communing with nature
6:15 Bhajan (emotional yoga)
6:45 Meditation
7:45 Dinner
10:00 Bed

Patience as a Reward
Its exhausting and rewarding, even though it has yet to provide me with a "yoga miracle" or similar cure to all that ails me. I still have the challenges I have lamented for months or years - but am cultivating some degree of patience that rests on what can only be faith, although it is hard to see through the mental clouds at times.

I will try to keep you updated when I get close enough to a PC and have time amid my other correspondence and commitments. Meanwhile, if you are interested in seeing the ashram, check out