100 Days of Yoga, Day 18

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September 8, 2012 by blogmasterjdeam

GraceI NEED YOUR GRACE TO REMIND ME TO FIND MY OWN.  ~ Snow Patrol from “Chasing Cars”

The first time I heard that line, I knew someone was talking to me.  For more than a half century I believed my life was one big mistake.  When push came to shove I was hard pressed to tell you a single good thing about myself.  I couldn’t tell you what I liked to do for entertainment, and, as I said in an earlier blog, I didn’t even know who I was.

My life began to change in 1999 with two life altering events: my husband had a heart attack (the kind called “the widow maker”) and my beloved sister Ann was diagnosed with leukemia.  These two events sent me into what I now call the great depression.  I went to my health care provider and asked for drugs to fix me.  Instead, she very wisely said, “you don’t need anti-depressants, you are having a spiritual awakening.  Let yourself feel what you are suppose to feel.”  Of course at the time I thought she was crazy, but it turned out she was highly intuitive, and right.

I set out on a mission to get better, to at least survive what I deemed unsurvivable.  Yes, I know how dramatic that sounds, but until you have been in that place of utter despair, you can’t really know how it feels.  Despair is despair.  When you feel it, it hurts.  A lot.

I started reading self-help books, like Attitudes of Gratitude, by M. J. Ryan.  I kept reading and reading, listening to tapes (before the age of cds) and then one day I listened to a tape by Ram Dass titled Death and Dying.  It was in April of 2000. I finished listening to the tape and went out to take a walk.  I walked on a remote trail, thinking about what I’d just learned and, quite suddenly, a hawk flew at my head.  Believe it or not, it doesn’t matter to me, but in that instance it was as if the entire meaning of the Universe was downloaded into my brain.  I GOT IT.  And having gotten it, I couldn’t un-know it.

What I know for sure is that all the answers to all the questions are completely in our beings.  We need to get our brains out of the way, stop trying to analyze, over-think, disassemble, and let our higher selves do what they know to do.  Because, and I absolutely promise you this: everything is happening exactly the way it is suppose to, AND, for your highest good.  Yes, even the yucky stuff.

You see it in nature all the time.  Animals now how to take care of themselves, without over-thinking, worrying, clearing it with every friend, etc.  And so do we.  When we sit quietly and turn off the chaos of our minds, the way becomes very clear.  The answers to our questions, the meaning of your universe, was there all along, we just can’t seem to get through the muck to see it.

We make life so much harder than it needs to be.  We add drama, anger, resentment, all the negative emotions to it — which is the muck — so that we can’t see the answer.  Starting to come awake for me in 2000, allowed me to start the very long process of self-awareness, self-realization, self-actualization.  Big words with big meanings:

Noun 1. self-awareness – awareness of your own individuality

awarenesscognisancecognizanceknowingnessconsciousness – having knowledge of; “he had no awareness of his mistakes”; “his sudden consciousness of the problem he faced”; “their intelligence and general knowingness was impressive”

orientation – a person’s awareness of self with regard to position and time and place and personal relationships

self-consciousness – self-awareness plus the additional realization that others are similarly aware of you.

Noun 1. self-realization – the fulfillment of your capacitiesself-fulfillmentself-realisationfulfillmentfulfilment – the act of consummating something (a desire or promise etc)
Noun 1. self-actualization –  (Psychology) Psychol the process of establishing oneself as a whole person, able to develop one’s abilities and to understand oneself

Let’s hold this in our minds as we read another definition of Pratyahara:With GRACE, we all get to go through this process until finally we actually know what we are giving up, which is the ego.  When we finally reach that stage of being without ego, then we can start the process of preparing to drop our bodies.  In the East, the term for what we call dying is called dropping the body.  You see the connotation there, that is, there is something separate from our actual selves that leaves.


Pratyahara means drawing back or retreat. The word ahara means “nourishment”; pratyahara translates as “to withdraw oneself from that which nourishes the senses.” In yoga, the term pratyahara implies withdrawal of the senses from attachment to external objects. It can then be seen as the practice of non-attachment to sensorial distractions as we constantly return to the path of self realization and achievement of internal peace. It means our senses stop living off the things that stimulate; the senses no longer depend on these stimulants and are not fed by them any more.

In pratyahara we sever this link between mind and senses, and the senses withdraw. When the senses are no longer tied to external sources, the result is restraint or pratyahara. Now that the vital forces are flowing back to the Source within, one can concentrate without being distracted by externals or the temptation to cognize externals.

Pratyahara occurs almost automatically when we meditate because we are so absorbed in the object of meditation. Precisely because the mind is so focused, the senses follow it; it is not happening the other way around.

No longer functioning in their usual manner, the senses become extraordinarily sharp. Under normal circumstances the senses become our masters rather than being our servants. The senses entice us to develop cravings for all sorts of things. In pratyahara the opposite occurs: when we have to eat we eat, but not because we have a craving for food. In pratyahara we try to put the senses in their proper place, but not cut them out of our actions entirely.

Much of our emotional imbalance are our own creation. A person who is influenced by outside events and sensations can never achieve the inner peace and tranquility. This is because he or she will waste much mental and physical energy in trying to suppress unwanted sensations and to heighten other sensations. This will eventually result in a physical or mental imbalance, and will, in most instances, result in illness.

Patanjali says that the above process is at the root of human unhappiness and uneasiness. When people seek out yoga, hoping to find that inner peace which is so evasive, they find that it was theirs all along. In a sense, yoga is nothing more than a process which enables us to stop and look at the processes of our own minds; only in this way can we understand the nature of happiness and unhappiness, and thus transcend them both.xii  ~ William J. D. Duran

PRANAYAMA:  Listener’s choice today.  I will be repeating the Zen practice from yesterday.

ASANA:  Yesterday was a running day (the next race is Sunday) so my practice will be one of Restorative Yoga.  There are many wonderful YouTube videos available for this practice.  Pick one and enjoy.

YOURS ON THE PATH, Chris

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