Patanjali's Yoga

Crystals and Ruts

            Words have power. Words are a form of energetic vibration which modulate other energetic vibrations. This is what makes mantra so powerful. The repetition of a vibration changes the vibration of the one repeating it.

            Many people are now familiar with Masuro Emoto, the Japanese scientist who studied the powerful vibrational relationship between words and water. He photographed water in crystalline forms after it had been in the company of a word for an extended period. The vibration of the word, even without being spoken, was powerful enough to leave a mark on the crystal. His experiments explored a variety of words, higher vibrating ones such as love and caring as well as lower vibrating ones such as hate, and stupid. The higher vibrating words made more beautiful and elaborate crystals, while the crystals of the lower vibrating words were almost always fragmented and incomplete.

            In one of his books he discussed an experiment completed by school children in Japan. In the experiment, the children put into three jars a generous amount of cooked rice. The jars were sealed and left by the door to the home. Each day, as the children would enter and depart from the home they would greet one jar with kind and caring words, another with cruel and hurtful words, and the third with no words at all. Because the rice had been cooked it began a fermenting process in the jars. The jars that were spoken to kindly took the longest to ferment and grow mold. One would expect that the jars which were spoken to with hurtful words would ferment the quickest, however, that is not true. The rice which got no attention at all fermented rapidly, while the rice that was spoken to with cruelty took a week or so longer to rot. Words have power.

            It is valuable to acknowledge from this experiment that when no energy is given to a thing, whether high in vibration or not, that thing loses vibration rapidly. It is also valuable to recognize that words of lower vibration will increase the rate of decay of an energy that is already compromised.

            The mind is fallible, humans are fallible. Take for example the availability heuristic which is a judgment bias. Quite simply it is a mental shortcut that the mind takes to resolve a problem based on the information that is most available to answer that problem. For instance, recall your assumption that the rice spoken to cruelly would be the quickest to ferment in the argument presented above. Based on the information that was presented to you before the results of the experiment it was an easy leap to decide that the vibration of cruelty would be more harmful than the vibration of indifference. However, your assumption was not evidence that cruelty was more harmful than indifference. Rather, it was just your mind using the information most readily available to it to quickly leap to a judgement. To avoid the failings of the availability heuristic we must ask ourselves how reliable is the information we are working with?

            Words not only enhance and deplete energetic vibrations, they also create illusions and delusions. The availability heuristic is a form of delusion. It is the formulation of a belief based on incomplete or false information. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali these kinds on mental delusions are addressed:

Yoga Sutra 1:9

ŚABDAJNĀNĀNUPĀTĪ VASTU ŚŪNYO VIKALPAH.
An image that arises on hearing mere words without any reality [as its basis] is verbal delusion.

            Verbal delusions and judgment biases are valuable for contemplation because, while the creation of the belief or understanding of the situation is merely a delusion it will leave an impression on the mind, much like the water crystals of Masuro Emoto. The practice of yoga is about so much more that moving the body into strange and interesting shapes. Beyond the impressions of comfort and discomfort, like and dislike, is the opportunity to explore the ruts carved out by the delusions and misconceptions of the human experience. Getting to know the trappings of the mind and the minds ability to liberate itself from those trappings is the great gift of yoga. To know the power of the vibration of the words that move through you and to use those words mindfully, like planting seeds, pulling weeds, and watering a garden.

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Unraveling The Human Condition

  Who knows why the human condition is the way it is? It seems that no matter how many people contemplate, pontificate, philosophize, and analyze, it is still what it is. And much of the time what it is translates to challenging. In addition to the adversity we all face as humans experiencing life on planet Earth, we also have a shared experience of feeling alone or separate from one another on our paths to peace, and freedom from our suffering.

Many of the great spiritual practices all nod to this shared experience, and in many ways it is in dissolving this feeling of separateness that becomes the central focus of these practices. For in the spiritual realm there is ultimately no separation, and it is the individual journey to realizing this truth that is the aim of the spiritual path. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali the teaching that speaks to this aspect of our human condition, yoga sutra 1:4 “At other times (The Self) appears to assume the forms of the mental modifications” clarifies that it is our mental mind stuff, which formulates our perception of the feeling of separateness. This sutra simply states that ones perception of separation from the greater unifying consciousness (The Self) becomes that which one identifies themselves with. It is in learning to recognize that in our identifications with the experiences of our lives, or in the “I am” statements we make, that we create the impression of being alone. Therefor, in practicing self-awareness, or mindfulness, we can become attentive to the mind chatter that creates these experiences of separation and see them for what they are, self-imposed beliefs that are formed as thoughts. However, learning to identify these thoughts is not an easy task. This is why "the quieting of the mental modifications" has to be practiced, over and over. It is in our practice that we become more self-aware and more capable of dissolving the impressions of separation before they even arise.

It is the hope of a spiritual practitioner, much like a philosopher, and even a life scientist to garner more meaning in this often-confusing landscape of human experience. Who’s to say if this is the way to unravel the human condition and truly know peace? It is definitely one way, and of course there are as many ways as there are humans having experiences.

To knowing peace and joy, with love, always, in all ways, for giving,

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Genevieve

Without Practice Nothing Can Be Achieved

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Perhaps you are already thinking of New Years resolutions? Maybe, like me, you are resolving to do new things and experience life differently all the time? Hopefully all of these desired courses of action require a small, if not large, level of difficulty and will present you with a true opportunity to achieve something different from what you now know. If this is the case than it is quite likely that at first you will meet with adversity and challenge, you will miss the mark if not fail completely. The question will then become how important is it to you? If it has a modicum of importance than you will return to try it again and again. Over time, that which was challenging will become less difficult, and eventually that which once eluded you, will become your nature. This is the nature of practice, and it’s rewards. The process of revelation, from ignorance into knowing is effectively a pealing away of layers and veils of sensitivity that limit the space of perspective until individual consciousness is united with all encompassing consciousness. To know yoga and unconditional love requires passing along this journey. There is a process of assimilation that cannot take place solely through the passing on of information, solely through the teachings and the words. Rather, we must experience the expansive and personal unraveling of belief and attachment in order to arrive at the door of truth and understanding. Experience is the path that guides us to such a threshold.

Satisfaction comes from rising to the call of the arduous and difficult, and learning how to fail well. Failing well means getting back up, getting back on the mat, allowing yourself to be vulnerable after heartbreak. This is where the value of true achievement dwells and this is the reward referred to in the famous quote “Practice and all is coming”, attributed to Pattabhi Jois. This is the teaching of Patanjali’s first yoga sutra, Atha Yoganusasanam, traditionally translated to “Now the exposition of Yoga is being made.” Basically, without experience, no true knowledge can be gleaned. “Now is the time to get to the mat.”

With Love, Always, In All Ways, For Giving,

Genevieve