Posts Tagged With: devotion

Making Peace with your Monkey Mind

From: dichtbijmediteren.nl

Hanuman, the monkey god is believed to be another one of Shiva’s incarnations, like Shiva Nataraj we highlighted last post. Hanuman symbolizes pure love, devotion, strength, persistence and shows us that we have gifts beyond what we think we are capable of. There are many different stories about Hanuman, told in many different ways. I will share one of my favourites.

Anjana

It starts with Hanuman’s mother Anjana. She desperately wants to become a mother, so she prays every day for a child. The god of the wind, Vayu hears her prayers and decides to fulfil her wish by sending her rice grains that made her conceive. Her son was born and called Anajaneya (son of Anjana), he was half human and half god, since Vayu, the god of the wind was his father. At times, being half god with special powers brought him into trouble. One morning he woke up and saw a mango floating in the sky or that is what he thought it was. Of course it wasn’t a mango but the sun, Surya. When Surya saw Anajaneya coming after him he threw a lightning bolt towards him. Anajaneya was wounded in his jaw and died. Vayu his dad was outrageous and inhaled deeply to breathe in all the air on the planet which made all living beings gasp for air. All the gods came together to deal with this emergency. They all decided to bring Anajaneya back to live under a new name: Hanuman (hanuh = jaw). He was also cursed with a short memory to make sure he wouldn’t remember being half god with special powers to prevent him from causing more harm. He wouldn’t live with his mother anymore but with the apes in the forest. That is why he transformed into an ape to better fit in with his new family.

Ram & Sita

One day Hanuman met King Ram and instantly felt a connection and made a vow to never leave his side. Ram is married to Sita, a beautiful woman with heavenly qualities. The demon King Ravana is jealous at the couple and decides to start a war to take over the kingdom. He kidnapped Sita and brings her to the island of Lanka. Ram is busy with protecting his kingdom that is why Hanuman sets out to free Sita. Hanuman has no idea how, since he doesn’t remember he has special powers. From a place of pure devotion and love for Ram he manages to overcome his own doubts about his capabilities. When he arrived at the shore with the Island Lanka in his vision he kneels down into hero pose, Virasana to pray. Hanuman closed his eyes and asks for support to help him accomplish the impossible. When he felt he had enough energy, he pressed his feet into the earth and took his famous leap to the island of Lanka.

“It was the greatest leap ever taken. The speed of Hanuman’s jump pulled blossoms and flowers into the air after him and they feel like little stars on the waving treetops. The animals on the beach had never seen such a thing; they cheered hanuman, then the air burned from his passage, and red clouds flamed over the sky.”

The yoga pose Hanumanasana (full spilt) mimics Hanuman’s famous leap from the southern tip of India to the Island of Sri Lanka. I personally love the stories behind the asanas. It is inspiring to know what the story is behind the posture and it also gives the pose another dimension then just the physical plane. The above described story comes from; Myths of the Asanas: The stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition, by Arjuna van der Kooij & Alanna Kaivalya. They have more stories about Hanuman, as well as other yoga asanas. I highly recommended this wonderful book.

Monkey pose

The pose Hanumanasana can bring up all kind of associations and emotions for you. Dislike or like? Stillness or agitation? You might desperately want to get into the full expression of the pose, even though your body proportions will never allow you too without causing harm. Can you be content with your journey towards the pose without attachment? Can you still breathe and smile while finding your edge in the (half) spilt? I can tell you one thing for sure; if your pelvis is touching your mat it doesn’t make you any happier or reward you with more yoga points. The biggest thing that is affected is probably your ego (and possibly your hamstrings and hips). As a yoga teacher, I don’t really care where you are in the pose. For me it is more interesting and inspiring what the pose is doing with you? Can you continue to breathe and believe in your own strength and possibilities while being in the midst of the intensity of the pose? And when you step of the mat, can you continue to stay connected with your heart and focus your mind when in the midst of challenges and struggles? These questions are symbolising the strength and healing powers of yoga to me.

Monkey mind

Only you know what you can learn from Hanuman. One of his qualities, keeping a sense of humour and lightness under all circumstances is a powerful one for me. However hard the situation is you are in right now, can you also stay light and see the humour in every circumstance, maybe not in the midst of your struggles, but in hindsight. Hanuman also symbolizes our mind. The unpractised mind is like a drunken ape stung by a bee, also called the monkey mind. When our mind is focused, we can accomplish anything. For me this is a reminder of the strength of our mind and to keep our mind focused through meditation and asana practice, the full spectrum of yoga. To not let your crazy thoughts lead you all the time, instead connect with the devotion and deep love and strength of your inner Hanuman. You could see Hanuman as a reminder to be devoted to your own heart that is leading the way.

Jai Hanuman!

 

Categories: Inspiration, Sharing, spirituality, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Find Love in unexpected places

While I tried to calm my overactive mind by a stroll along the beach, I was happily surprised by the following:

Let Love find you

Let Love find you

What a beautiful present! I felt much better straight away about my decision to go for a walk and my guilt started to disappear slowly. Guilt about not applying for jobs, studying my yoga Teacher’s Training course preparations, writing blogs or other useful tasks. At the same time inspiration arrived for my next blog. Once again I learned that relaxation is beneficial in a lot of ways.

This little sign of love brings me to Bhakti yoga, also called the yoga of devotion or love. The Sanskrit word bhakti is derived from the verb root bhaj, which means ‘to belong to’ or ‘to worship’. Bhakti can be translated into devotional service or pure love. Within this yoga style, your personal relationship with God and emotional fulfillment and wellbeing are your focus points. It is the way towards realization and union of the individual with the universe or the Supreme Soul through acts of love and service. Bhakti yoga leads to the same destination as all the other branches of yoga, but is especially suitable for those who are emotional in their nature and have feelings of love and devotion highly developed. In terms of the five principles of niyama, bhakti yoga is Isvara pranidhana; surrender of one’s actions and one’s will to God. Through practice you can reach a higher state of intelligence and that makes you lose the identity of the self, you become one with God.

Above all, love is the most fundamental drive of every living entity. You cannot be happy without satisfying your desire to love. So let’s LOVE today on Valentine’s Day!

Categories: Sharing, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Anahata Chakra

The fourth chakra is called the Anahata chakra and is sometimes referred to as the ‘heart chakra’, because it resonates in the heart and relates to compassion and love. Anahata means ‘stillness’ or ‘unhurt’ in Sanskrit. This name implies that deep beneath our personal stories of brokenness and the pain in our heart, wholeness, boundless love and compassion reside. When the fourth chakra is flowing and open, you feel deeply connected to everyone in your life and feelings of compassion arise. This fourth energy center governs intuition and love. Glands, organs or body parts associated with this chakra are the heart, thymus, lungs, chest, arms, circulatory system, shoulders, upper back and breasts. The primary colour is green and the element for the fourth chakra is air. The sense for this chakra is touch and the emotion is compassion and joy.

Anahata Chakra

Anahata Chakra

Center of the Seven

The Anahata chakra is a powerful chakra and is referred to as the center of the seven, since there are three chakras above and three below. The fourth chakra lies in the core of our spirit, the center of the body and is directly connected to the third eye and the crown chakra. This chakra is the balance point, integrating the world of matter (the lower three chakras) with the world of spirit (the upper three chakras). Through the heart chakra you open to and connect with harmony and peace. The health status of this center represents the quality and power of love in your life and it is the seat of balance within the body.

Living in your head

If your heart chakra is obstructed, you can experience feelings of loneliness and a sense of alienation. Other signs if you fourth chakra is out of balance can be; feeling sorry for yourself, paranoid, indecisive, afraid of letting go, afraid of getting hurt or unworthy of love. You may live your life mainly in and with your head and not with the heart, with the result of being overly focused on thought and the tendency to cut yourself off from emotions and your body. Physical illnesses related to a blocked fourth chakra are heart attack, high blood pressure, insomnia, asthma, difficulty in breathing and other lung diseases. If the heart chakra is deficient, you may experience feelings of shyness and loneliness. Since the heart chakra is the center of the being, blocks in this center can throw your entire system out of alignment. It can cause emotional detachment, inability to love or show affection or self hatred and loathing. You are not able to connect with other humans, experience self-love or true happiness and intimacy. A blocked heart chakra can lead to despair, jealousy, hate, unrealistic fear and rage. Our lives and intimate relationships will suffer unless you can find a way to connect with the heart center and achieve healing and harmony. Yoga is a perfect method to achieve this.

Opening backbend

Opening backbend

Yoga

For an excessive heart chakra, forward bends are recommended, because they are grounding and foster introspection. Asanas that enliven the heart chakra include passive chest openers in which you arch gently over a blanket or bolster, shoulder stretches such as Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) and Garudasana (Eagle Pose) and backbends or basically any pose that opens the chest. By practicing backbends you develop trust and surrender and you heart opens fully. If you feel fearful, then there will be no room for love and your body will contract. Love can melt away fear and bring joy to your practice. In addition, in many back bending poses the heart is positioned higher than the head which is wonderful to let the mind drop away from the top position and instead lead with the heart.

Bring joy to your practice

Bring joy to your practice

Pranayama

The element for the fourth chakra is air. This air is essential for life as the breath brings oxygen to your cells via the lungs and the heart muscle then pumps the blood throughout the body and thereby giving and sustaining life. Like the element water, air assumes the shape of whatever it fills, yet it is less subject to gravity than water. Air permeates breath and therefore pranayama practice can help to balance and tone this chakra. Basically all forms of pranayama can assist you to use more air, more prana and thereby increasing your vitality and enthusiasm for life.

Love

The challenge of the heart chakra is to remain open and balanced in a world which can be emotionally painful. This center is the place of unconditional love, forgiveness and utter devotion. The most effective and powerful way to open, energize and balance not just the heart chakra but all of your chakras is to love yourself and others. It sounds so easy: allow yourself to love and show compassion towards others, since love is the greatest healer. Though, it is a challenge and obstacle for most of us. Besides love; heartbreak, grief, pain and fear are all emotions that are felt intensely within this energy center. All of us have to deal with disappointment, greed, conditional love of others and loss from an early age onwards. Therefore a deficient or excessive heart chakra is so common. Definitely, learning self-love is an amazing tool to develop and maintain a healthy heart chakra. Remember, that there is a never-ending supply of love in the universe and there to be used in any moment. You can first start with opening yourself up to love by giving your love to others. Slowly, you can learn to treat yourself with love, patience, compassion and kindness and replace judgments with acceptance. Unconditional love can be a creative and powerful energy that may guide and help you through the most difficult times in your life and you can use it to free yourself from your limits and fears. In addition, if you keep yourself in a loving space, you will have a positive and healing effect on your environment.

The true gifts of life

The true gifts of life

Relationships

The first three chakras are the chakras of the self. The fourth chakra is the energy center of relationships and refers to giving and to receiving. To keep this chakra healthy you need to maintain a balance between giving and receiving and in your relationships. It is good to remind yourself that life without other beings would be empty, dull and worthless. It is the love for your family, friends and other people in your life that keeps you here and keeps you going. You could see life as a celebration and a celebration without your loved ones is not complete, but fruitless and aimless. Also, it is just as important to give as it’s to allow yourself to receive. In order to give love fully, you must allow yourself to receive love fully. You can use this beautiful affirmation:

“I am loved.
There is an infinite supply of love.
I love myself and others.
I love everyone.
I invite love into my life.”

Put your heart into it

The third chakra represents fire, passion and personal power. Though, without air, a fire will burn out. In the same way, without heart, you cannot have true will power. Without this passion supplied by the heart chakra, true transformation is difficult. The saying “put your heart into it”, illustrate this beautifully. As said before, the heart chakra is a powerful energy center, since it is the center of all energies and unifies our being as a whole. An imbalance in the heart chakra will adversely effect all the other centers. Therefore a clearing of the heart chakra will improve the interaction of all other chakras. The more balanced the chakras are, the more balanced you will be in all walks of life. With a healthy heart chakra you will approach all situations with wisdom, love and equanimity and you feel compassionate, empathetic and see the good in everyone. Sounds worthwhile to balance your Anahata chakra, isn’t?

Love in the air

Love in the air

Categories: Chakra, Happiness, Inspiration, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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