100 Days of Yoga, Day 20

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September 10, 2012 by blogmasterjdeam

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.    

~ Naomi Shihib Nye

I love this poem.  It answers the question of how we fit into the world.  When you give kindness to another being, you get kindness in return.  Maybe not you personally, but you as a member of the universe.  Kindness is one of those things you can’t not pay forward.  It is almost overwhelming when a stranger is kind to you.  The only way to continue breathing is to be kind to someone else in return, if not to that very person.

My first visit to New York City was for Mike’s daughter, Kara’s graduation from college.  NYC was absolutely unbelievable to me.  I tried to look at the sky, but it was filled with buildings.  I tried to find my way around, but I couldn’t keep up — I was shuffled off to the side, out of the way of all the busy people.  I remember standing in the middle of Grand Central Station, staring at the board, near tears because I couldn’t figure out how to get somewhere.  I looked down from the board to see a well-dressed man standing in front of me.  He asked me how he could help.  Not if he could help, but how.  It was 5:50 p.m. on a Thursday night and he was probably hurrying to get home, but he stopped and took the time to help be.  To be kind.  For the rest of the time in NYC, I was kind to everyone I encountered, no matter how they responded.  That’s how much this man’s act meant to me.

I think it is like that commercial you see on television: kindness begets kindness.  Showing acts of kindness to others actually causes us to treat ourselves with more kindness.  It is a vicious circle.

We are undergoing a time of unkindness, dishonesty, and lack of compassion.  As we are coming awake it is a difficult thing to feel these negative emotions.  It is like we are babies being bombarded with loud, angry words from unhappy parents.  Although we don’t understand the meaning of the words, we do understand the energy behind them.

As awakening people, we want to make the world a better place.  We want to share the happiness we are coming awake to.

Sitting on the beach with Ram Dass, I watched as he waved and smiled to EVERY person who walked by.  Most of the people, and I mean probably 99%, didn’t acknowledge him.  Ram Dass wasn’t dejected.  He didn’t take it personally when most people didn’t wave or smile back, he just went on waving and smiling and, in doing so, wishing them happiness.

So you see, you don’t have to get rewarded for being kind.  You are kind for YOUR own sake, because it makes you feel good, because it makes you happier.  Often, when I am feeling out of sorts, I will go into the public and say Hello and smile at everyone I see.  Most of the people I do this with don’t even notice, but I do and I feel better for the experience.

Now that we’ve mastered the Yamas, Niyamas, and Pratyahara, it is time to move on to the concept of Dharana.  Here is the definition by William J. D. Duran:

     Dharana means “immovable concentration of the mind”. The essential idea is to hold the concentration or focus of attention in one direction.  “When the body has been tempered by asanas, when the mind has been refined by the fire of pranayama and when the senses have been brought under control by pratyahara, the sadhaka (seeker) reaches the sixth stage, dharana. Here he is concentrated wholly on a single point or on a task in which he is completely engrossed. The mind has to be stilled in order to achieve this state of complete absorption.”xiii

In dharana we create the conditions for the mind to focus its attention in one direction instead of going out in many different directions. Deep contemplation and reflection can create the right conditions, and the focus on this one point that we have chosen becomes more intense. We encourage one particular activity of the mind and, the more intense it becomes, the more the other activities of the mind fall away.

The objective in dharana is to steady the mind by focusing its attention upon some stable entity. The particular object selected has nothing to do with the general purpose, which is to stop the mind from wandering -through memories, dreams, or reflective thought-by deliberately holding it single-mindedly upon some apparently static object. B.K.S. Iyengar states that the objective is to achieve the mental state where the mind, intellect, and ego are “all restrained and all these faculties are offered to the Lord for His use and in His service. Here there is no feeling of ‘I’ and ‘mine’.”xiv

When the mind has become purified by yoga practices, it becomes able to focus efficiently on one subject or point of experience. Now we can unleash the great potential for inner healing.

This is the part where I ask you to indulge me with your kindness.  Remember when I told you my instructor said the only thing you needed to remember about Pratyahara was Concentration?  Well, he was actually talking about Dharana.  My bad.

PRANAYAMA:  I am in total recovery mode today after yesterday’s race.  I will be doing a muscle relaxation breathing exercise called 4-4-4-4.  Here is the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmnONuB-tTw

ASANA:  Although it would be nice to have a day of Restorative yoga, it is necessary that I keep the lactic acid moving out of my muscles.  I will be doing a Vinyasa series, as follows:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9z2vSwHE0lI

YOURS WITH GREAT KINDNESS, Chris

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