Archive for the ‘Recommended Materials’ Category

Key Elements of a Kapha Balancing Practice

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

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Some Key Elements of a Kapha Balancing Practice:

Choosing the following practices when feeling sluggish, stuck, clingy, unmotivated, tired, depressed…will move you back towards balance.  The more consistently you work with these elements in your practice, the deeper and more sustained the effects will become.

Move your body!  Although it may be difficult to tap into at first, Kapha types have a lot of stamina!  Push yourself to do a little more.  Include sun salutations and other vinyasas, jumpings, balancings, inversions, and then include them all over again ☺

Chest up! Arms up! Spirit up!  Lift your chest high, and lift your arms straight up over your head and your energy will come up too.  Lifting the chest and opening the armpits is one of the most important tools in yoga therapeutics to ward off depression.

Jump!  Jumping from pose to pose (rather than stepping one foot at a time) brings levity, excitement, enthusiasm, joy, delight, and freedom.

-Open your chest!  Opening your chest brings joy and allows the breath to move freely.  Begin with shoulder-opening work and move on to practice some backbending poses.

Adho Mukha Vrskasana & Sirsasana.  These inversions (handstand and headstand) create heat in the body, and increase strength and stamina.  Both poses also increase circulation of blood and lymph.

Practice balancing.  Working on balancing poses gives a sense of poise, achievement and grace.  And if you’re not quite at the “grace” part of your practice, be childlike in your practice: Have fun!  Fall over!  Try again!  Try a different way!  Be tireless!!

Don’t go to sleep.  Savasana is not naptime!  During Savasana, challenge yourself to stay alert and present.  Remember that you are the Witness to your own self.  The body relaxes, while you observe this relaxation.

Do one thing.  If the thought of getting up and doing your yoga practice seems impossible, what’s one thing you can do?  Can you go stand on your mat?  And since you’re there, can you stand in Tadasana?  And while you’re at it, maybe take your arms up overhead?  What else?

Vanessa Serotta

Vanessa Serotta is a 500-hour RYT.  She received her certification from Eileen Muir.  She values the way asana practice brings us to know ourselves more intimately, and looks to the teachings of yoga philosophy to go deeper still.  In each of her classes, Vanessa offers her students an opportunity to make and savor this connection for themselves.

Email: vanessa.serotta@gmail.com

Key Elements of a Pitta Balancing Practice

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

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Key Elements of a Pitta Balancing Practice:

Choosing the following practices when feeling irritable, defensive, angry, frustrated, judgmental, jealous, resentful…will move you back towards balance.  The more consistently you work with these elements in your practice, the deeper and more sustained the effects will become.

Easy does it!  The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.  Pitta types are ambitious and physically capable, which can lead to a tendency to want to push their limits.  Pace yourself to avoid a crash and burn situation.

Stay cool.  Especially during Summer (Pitta time), be sure that you’re not overheating.  Work with a slower practice of fewer, slightly longer holdings of poses, rather than a more active practice with Vinyasas or jumpings.

Forward bends.  As a category, forward bends are physiologically cooling to the brain and body.  They teach us surrender.  Begin with standing forward bends to begin to open the hamstring muscles, and move into seated forward bends, for maximum cooling, quieting and settling.

Don’t overdo backbends or twists.  When practicing backbends, moderate you exertion and your energy.  Backbends release a lot of energy and a lot of heat.  Twists also release a lot of heat, so be sure to follow up with plenty of cooling poses.  Work slowly, and turn your focus inward.  Pause after each pose to feel the effects.

Sarvangasana.  Sarvangasana (shoulderstand) is deeply, wonderfully cooling and balancing.  If Sarvansasana is new for you, practice Setu Bandha (bridge pose) for as long as it takes to learn the correct alignment in your body before beginning to practice Sarvangasana.  Always practice Sarvangasana or another cooling pose after practicing Sirsasana (headstand), which can be a very hot pose.

Ahimsa.  The very first in the eight limbs of Yoga is the list of five Yamas (moral abstentions), and the first in this list of five is Ahimsa, which means “non-harming”,  Be sweet with yourself!  As you practice, from moment to moment, ask yourself, what is Ahmisa in this moment.  Minister this question with total Love and total acceptance

Isvara-pranidhanad.  The second of the eight limbs of Yoga are the five Niyamas (moral observances).  Isvara-pranidhanad is last on this list of Niyamas.  It means surrender to God.  If this concept doesn’t work for you, work with the simple practice of surrendering.  In life, in our minds, and in our bodies, there is much we can’t control.  In your asana practice, do what you can, and let the rest go.  Thank your body for everything it does for you each and every day.

Vanessa Serotta

Vanessa Serotta is a 500-hour RYT.  She received her certification from Eileen Muir.  She values the way asana practice brings us to know ourselves more intimately, and looks to the teachings of yoga philosophy to go deeper still.  In each of her classes, Vanessa offers her students an opportunity to make and savor this connection for themselves.

Email: vanessa.serotta@gmail.com

Key Elements of a Vata Balancing Practice

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

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Some Key Elements of  a Vata Balancing Practice:

Choosing the following practices when feeling fatigued, stressed, anxious, ungrounded, nervous, agitated, unable to sleep, overwhelmed, indecisive, frazzled, depleted (need I go on?) will move you back towards balance.  The more consistently you work with these elements in your practice, the deeper and more sustained the effects will become.

Most importantly, less is more!  When we are feeling depleted or overwhelmed, one supported pose held for 5-30 minutes will restore you deeply.  A more active, exertive practice can exacerbate your symptoms.

Support yourself, especially your head.  Use bolsters, blocks, blankets, chairs, cushions, the couch, the edge of your bed, and anything else that does the job .  Supporting the head quiets the brain and soothes the nervous system.  Supporting the rest of the body allows it to rest deeply.

Sandbags.  Applying weight to the limbs is extremely soothing to the nervous system.  Place sandbags on the arms, legs, sacrum or shoulders to teach the body to release and surrender.  A sandbag on the forehead of an overactive brain is bliss (think Shirodhara).

Pratyahara/withdrawing the senses.  Use an eye pillow or a head wrap to turn the senses (sight and hearing) inwardly.  Sights and sounds draw our attention outward, which takes its toll.  When we turn the eyes and ears towards our inner self, we take a break from the stimulations of life, and can rest.

Inversions.  Inversions balance the hormone systems in the body, including stress hormones.  Choose well-supported inversions that allow the body to relax.  Chair Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), Viparita Karani (legs up the wall), and Viparita Dandasana (inverted staff pose) over a chair are excellent choices.

Pranayama.  Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) and Samana Vayu (equal lengths inhalation and exhalation) are very balancing.  Bhramari (bumblebee breath) with Sanmuki Mudra helps sooth insomnia.  Focusing on your exhalation will sooth and relax, and focusing on the inhalation will energize and replenish you.

Keep warm.  Restorative yoga brings the body temperature down, and Vata types run cold, so wear your sweaters, cover yourself with blankets, and camp out in front of the wood stove or a space heater.

Vanessa Serotta

Vanessa Serotta is a 500-hour RYT.  She received her certification from Eileen Muir.  She values the way asana practice brings us to know ourselves more intimately, and looks to the teachings of yoga philosophy to go deeper still.  In each of her classes, Vanessa offers her students an opportunity to make and savor this connection for themselves.

Email: vanessa.serotta@gmail.com

Intro to Ayurveda

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

The 5 Elements create everything in the universe- including us!

• Space
• Air
• Fire
• Water
• Earth
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The 3 Doshas

imgresVATA: Communication + Transportation

Space + Air
Cold, dry, light, fast, mobile, rough
Balanced: friendly, creative, busy, social, upbeat

Unbalanced: Anxiety, insomnia, constipation, memory problems
 Treatment: Warm, well-spiced foods, abhyanga, meditation

imgres-1PITTA: Metabolism + Assimilation

Fire + Water
Hot, light, sharp, oily, smooth, fluid
Balanced: Intelligent, charismatic, organized, productive

Unbalanced: Irritable, critical, skin + eye problems, inflammation
Treatment: Cooling foods, anti-inflammatory diet, calm environment

imgres-2KAPHA Structure + Lubrication

Water + Earth
Heavy, dense, cold, wet, static/slow, oily
Balanced: Loving, strong, loyal, steadfast, peaceful
Unbalanced: Overweight, depressed, exhausted, listless
Treatment: Light spicy foods, daily exercises, cleansing routines

 

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Ayurvedic Practices

  • ✴  Establish a proper diet for your constitution and eat seasonally
  • ✴  Develop a healthy Dinacharya (daily routine)
  • ✴  Take herbal preparations as recommended
  • ✴  Receive Ayurvedic Bodywork- abhyanga, shirodhara, etc
  • ✴  Participate in seasonal Cleanses 1-2 times each year

Sample Dinacharya

  • ✴  Rise with the sun
  • ✴  Drink a cup of warm water
  • ✴  Brush teeth, scrape tongue, oil pulling, nasya
  • ✴  Evacuate bowels
  • ✴  Yoga (or other exercise)
  • ✴  Meditation, pranayama, mantra
  • ✴  Abhyanga before shower or bath
  • ✴  Eat a warm breakfast
  • ✴  Drink warm water throughout the day
  • ✴  Eat your largest meal in the middle of the day
  • ✴  Walk or take some quiet time after eating
  • ✴  Practice one-minute mediations throughout the day
  • ✴  Eat a small dinner at least two hours before going to bed
  • ✴  Drink a nourishing beverage
  • ✴  Oil the crown of your head and your feet
  • ✴  Do a few minutes of meditation or pranayama, yoga postures or gentle stretching
  • ✴  Give thanks
  • ✴  Retire

This Introduction was prepaired by Brooksley Williams of Valley Ayurveda. If you have any questions please contact Brooksley via email brooksley@valleyayurveda.com or by phone: 413-320-8333.

Yoga for your Ayurvedic Constitution

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Karuna is currently leading a series of workshops Yoga for your Ayurvedic Constitution. Each workshop is focused on one of the three Doshas or constitutions: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The workshops are co-led by Vanessa Serotta, RYT- 500 and Brooksley Williams, certified Ayurvedic Practitioner.

VataVATA: A Grounding Practice
 Saturday, Aug. 29th, 1-3:30pm

PittaPITTA: A Centering Practice
 Saturday, Sept. 5th, 1-3:30pm

KaphaKAPHA: An Uplifting Practice
 Saturday, Sept. 12th, 1-3:30pm


 

In order to help us understand the way the body is perceived in Ayurvedic Medicine, Brooksley has provided some supplemental materials that we will be featuring here in the blog. If you have any questions please contact Brooksley via email brooksley@valleyayurveda.com or by phone: 413-320-8333.

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10 Pairs of Opposites

Ayurveda draws on ten pairs of opposites to describe and in a way categorize all matter that exists in the universe. These qualities, or gunas, describe the interaction and inner-workings of the main energy forces – the Five Great Elements – on a particular object. They reflect the positive and negative, yin and yang of all forces in the universe. They are the basic qualities of all objects – physical or subtle. They provide a spectrum to describe the essence of our life.

Heavy ⇔ Light

 Cold⇔ Hot

Dull⇔ Sharp

Oily⇔ Dry Rough

 Smooth ⇔Rough

Dense ⇔Porous

Soft ⇔Hard

Static ⇔Mobile

Cloudy ⇔Clear

Solid ⇔  Liquid

 

At a practical level, our bodies as well as the foods we eat reflect a prevailing yet shifting degree and combination of these qualities. The underlying premise of all Ayurvedic practices and treatments is: like increases like and opposites balance each other. In this way, Ayurveda prescribes the use of foods, herbs, exercise, and daily routines with a specific set of these qualities in order to counter and heal specific imbalances in the body and mind.

In particular, all foods can be described using these 20 qualities – or ten pairs of opposites. For example, heavy foods include grains, cheese, yogurt, salty processed food and red meats whereas light foods include leafy veggies and herbs like turmeric and coriander. Cold foods include cucumber, watermelon and fennel while hot foods include ginger and chile peppers. Dry foods include millet, barley, dry fruits and toast, whereas oily foods include butter, ghee, oils, nuts and seeds, and fried foods. It is helpful to start thinking of food through these adjectives, in order to know what foods to eat to balance qualities that prevail in you based on yourMind/Body Constitution.

 

 

Yoga in Our Schools

Friday, July 24th, 2015

 


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         I am proud to say that Dr. John A. Provost is our superintendent.  He asked the above question in a letter sent to all Northampton Public School employees, welcoming us to the new school year last August.  I was so struck by the depth and importance of this question that I wrote it up on a piece of paper, filled it with color, and hung it in my home yoga studio.  Now a mantra for me, it guides me daily in my work with children.  It is a question that, even after an entire year of quiet asking, still takes my breath away.
        Dr. Provost also wrote in his letter about the “social emotional gap” and the need to “work to develop students who are not only smart but also resilient and empathetic”.  Karuna in Sanskrit means compassion and anyone who has held Adho Mukha Svanasana, or Downward Dog, for any length of time knows the importance of resilience.  Our practice of yoga at Karuna begins with a happy engagement in every pose.  It continues by being sensitive to the beauty of our mind, body, and breath connections.  It moves us towards virtue.  As one’s practice deepens, it profoundly changes the way a person feels and helps them to thrive in the challenge of life. This is true for anyone who practices yoga in a mindful way, no matter their age.
        Many students struggle with stress, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and even trauma.  It is my job, as a Tiered Support Specialist, to give these children the special support they need to be successful in our public schools.  The nectar of my yoga practice nourishes my ability to be strong and patient.  I sow seeds of strength and plant pods of patience in my students through mindful activities, precise movements, and specific breathing techniques.  I believe that yoga, meditation, and mindfulness in our schools can help our students to blossom as happy, socially engaged students who are more sensitive to beauty and more capable of virtue.
        Please join me in our quest to make yoga more accessible to children and to the people who care for them at   rebeca@loveyogatogrow.com

rebeca in sidhasanaRebeca Allessi is a graduate of the 200-hour Karuna Yoga Teacher Training Program and is certified by Yoga Ed to teach yoga in the schools, grades K – 8.  She is currently a Tiered Support Specialist at Jackson Street School and Bridge Street School here in Northampton.  She is also enrolled in Eileen’s 300-hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training Program at The Yoga Loft in Albany. She has been a public school classroom teacher for over 20 years and has been taught the importance of truth and kindness by her hundreds of students. Rebeca is drawn to the Karuna community as a place where she can find inner peace and meaningful growth. She is dedicated to bringing the transformative power of the Eight Limb Path of yoga to people of all ages and abilities.

Yoga for Kids

Friday, July 24th, 2015

Recently I was asked to photograph a class of elementary school students at Karuna. I met them in the entrance and watched them race up the stairs, excited to see their teacher, Rebeca Allessi, for about an hour of yoga.

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They were let into the studio in small groups, a method to mediate the high energy and excitement among them. They each had a mat waiting and, as they filed into the room, I could hardly imagine the practice of stillness that I find on my mat translating to these energized little bodies. I thought to myself; Rebecca has quite a task in front of her!

Yoga for kids is different than it is for adults. Movement is essential to the practice and engagement for kids comes far more through doing than contemplating. It was moving to watch the children embarking into this practice and inspiring to see how Rebecca was able to  help them harness their energy rather than stifle it. Each time Rebecca played the Shruti box they responded by getting into child’s pose, finding a moment for stillness.IMG_3547

The students have been practicing with Rebecca at their school over the past year. They know the names of poses, songs, sequences, and some games that introduce the practice of mindfulness. They transition from movement into stillness impressively and, just like many of us, are grateful for moments of rest.

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By the end of the class there was so much sweetness and softness in the room. It was moving to watch the children practice. Kids seem so naturally open and receptive to expressions of love and this, in my opinion, makes yoga a great outlet for young people. Rebeca teaches a kids Yoga class is on Wednesdays 4-5 starting back up this September.

-Erin McNally

Please enjoy the gallery of images from class and check out the upcoming workshops with Rebeca Yoga For Parents and Teachers, teaching methods to “discover how your own yoga and mindfulness practice can be the most effective way to help the young people in your life to find focus, manage stress, and increase emotional regulation”.

 

rebeca in sidhasanaRebeca Allessi is a graduate of the 200-hour Karuna Yoga Teacher Training Program and is certified by Yoga Ed to teach yoga in the schools, grades K – 8.  She is currently a Tiered Support Specialist at Jackson Street School and Bridge Street School here in Northampton.  She is also enrolled in Eileen’s 300-hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training Program at The Yoga Loft in Albany. She has been a public school classroom teacher for over 20 years and has been taught the importance of truth and kindness by her hundreds of students. Rebeca is drawn to the Karuna community as a place where she can find inner peace and meaningful growth. She is dedicated to bringing the transformative power of the Eight Limb Path of yoga to people of all ages and abilities.

 

Cittavrtti Nirodhah

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Each year at Karuna a new 200 hour teacher training begins. Students embark on a rigorous journey, employing their bodies, minds and spirits in a deep study of Yoga. The first questions asked for contemplation have a variety of answers, and those answers may change for individuals over the course of their training or throughout years of practice. The following questions are useful to contemplate and revisit for teacher trainees, teachers and student alike. Joanna Caplan, a current teacher trainee, shares her thoughts:

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Given the definitions of yoga as “cittavrtti nirodhah” how does the way you do yoga challenge the way you think and feel? How does the way you think and feel challenge the way you do yoga? Discuss and be succinct.

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In his translation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, BKS Iyengar writes “yoga is thus the art and science of mental discipline through which the mind becomes cultured and matured” and yoga is “the control or restraint of the movements of consciousness, leading to their complete cessation” (Iyengar 50). In theory Patanjali’s system is precise, concrete, scientific, complex and accessible. So what does this mean in practice?

.This past month, I have begun to establish a regular home asana, pranayama and meditation practice. My past ten plus years of a semi-regular, on and off again asana practice rarely included a meditation component. In fact, it had been a while since my mind and I had come to greet each other in this way. While meditation is an accessible and concrete practice, I have found it to be challenging and confrontational. The mind is relentless in its chatter and as Maharaj says with such a beautiful bluntness in the collection of his talks entitled I am That, “mind means disturbance; restlessness itself is mind…Examine closely and you will see that the mind is seething with thoughts. It may go blank occasionally, but it does for a time and reverts to its usual restlessness” (Maharaj 126).

.I find the above statement to be radical and liberating. In my experience, there is an adage that through a yoga practice one will find “peace of mind”, however how can this be true if the very nature of the mind is restlessness itself? Furthermore, if we think about peace in this way, as something we can find or acquire then peace becomes yet another sensation, like good and bad, pain and pleasure. In relation to my asana practice, I have in fact found myself getting lost in the sensations of pain and pleasure. By the end of class, I want to feel a certain way, to be more calm, centered and peaceful. Maharaj says, “the peace you claim to have found is brittle – any little thing can crack it. What you call peace is only absence of disturbance…Real peace cannot be disturbed” (Maharaj 127). Therefore, the feeling I get after finishing an asana practice is just that, a feeling. Now I am not discounting my asana practice. Rather, I am beginning to observe my patterns, my habits, my cittavrtti, and in these observations I am beginning to hear and approach an understanding of what Patanjali is articulating.

.So how can yoga “the art and science of mental discipline through which the mind becomes cultured and matured” and “the control or restraint of the movements of consciousness, leading to their complete cessation” if according to Maharaj the mind can never be cultured or matured? I think it is because the mind, in yogic philosophy, is multidimensional and dynamic. It is not one thing. And we are actually not talking about the mind but about citta or consciousness, which contains the mind “consciousness is made up of three factors, mind (manas), intellect (buddhi) and ego (ahamkara)” (Iyengar 49). So this is both a semantic issue (are we talking or writing about the mind or about consciousness) and a practical issue (are we getting wooed by sensations masquerading as “peace of mind”?).

.I do, however, observe moments of connecting to something deeper, to something that goes beyond sensation, feeling and mind, to something completely effortless. It is as though, for a moment, “instead of searching for what you have do not have, you find what it is you have never lost” (Maharaj 128). I think this is what Patanjali, Iyengar, Maharaj are talking about. I think that it can, in fact, be simple and effortless and one can begin to “realize the true peace, the peace you have never lost, that peace will remain with you, for it was never away from you” (Maharaj 128). So the practice becomes a practice of returning to oneself, or rather, realizing that “you are yourself, and no reason is needed” (Maharaj 128).

.I want my practice to be about surrender and release. I want my practice to remind me that I have never left myself, I am right here, deep, deep inside and all I have to do is listen.

Dream of Chloe

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

Last year Chloe Rombach, one of the students in the 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training, was badly injured after being struck by a car. Her family has set up a GoFundMe site to help afford her care. Collective she is in all our thoughts and prayers. One of the other students from the training, Anna Hansen, has shared a recent dream she had about Chloe:

Eileen,
I’ve had a couple dreams of Chloe… in both she is with us,
on a reprieve of sorts, from her hospital/rehab stay.
This morning’s dream, just before awaking  …
I had taken a day trip with my family to Animal Kingdom.
I was last to get on the bus back home… everyone was curled
up in beds lined up through the bus, all cozy and warm. I went to
the back of the bus and Chloe was lying in the last bed, there were
no beds left. I sat on the foot of her bed.. she opened her eyes and
smiled. I looked out the window as the bus pulled away and suddenly
Chloe started singing with such heart and soul … I started crying and
looked back to see Deb and Alaina were also there. I looked at Chloe
and she sat up excitedly and said “LOOK!” , as she pointed to the sky,
I looked but only saw clouds with the sun trying to peak through .. I
couldn’t see what she was so excited about… I just looked back at
her and said ‘it’s beautiful’ … she giggled, was crawling along her bed
like a child and told us how appreciative she was for all our thoughts
and prayers, that she was aware and it made her happy that we all
continued to think of her. She was so playful and happy (which is
exactly how I saw her when she was in class in the back of the room trying
to kick up in her handstands, so cute). I looked out at her sky and she started singing again, so clear and beautiful … I awoke as I was texting you in my dream to tell you Chloe was singing.
Stay warm, cozy, and safe today!
Love, Anna
You can hear Chloe sing on this YouTube recording:

The Chandogya Upanishads

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
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This response to the Chandogya Upanishads was written by Loren Magruder, a student at Karuna and a regular contributor to the Thursday evening philosophy discussion group.
“Smaller than a grain of rice
A grain of barley
A mustard seed
A grain of millet
Smaller even than the kernel of a grain of millet is the Self
This is the Self dwelling in the cave of my heart,
Greater than the earth
Greater than the Sky
Greater than all the Worlds”
Chandogya Upanishads
The Truth In Paradox- that this Self we Seek is infinitely small and unimaginably large… my mind winces as it tries to grasp the concept.  Paradox seems a common theme in the Upanishads, especially this Chandogya.  The word Upanishad literally means self-knowledge.  The Ancients paid such close attention to the elements Within and Without that they long recognized the micro within the macrocosmos and the macro within the microcosmos.   In recent times, there is an intriguing theory in Quantum Physics called Shrodinger’s cat… it still remains a theoretical supposition (I have a hunch it will always remain so as things of the Spirit are wily like that) That said it is widely discussed and books have been written on its validity. As I understand it, it basically proposes that if you put a cat in a box and close the lid that when you open the box the cat will be EITHER alive or dead but while the box is closed, the cat can simultaneously be BOTH alive and dead.  When we become time-bound is when reality collapses into EITHER one possibility or the other.  And the Upanishads and their truths have stood the test of time, haven’t they? Timeless, perennial wisdom indeed.
In my own life, the only force which could possibly hold this paradoxical truth is Love, the all-encompassing love some call God or Christ-Consciousness.  Our yogic commitment to svadhyaya; self-study within the contexts of the spiritual books (so that one doesn’t dive off the cliff into the swamp of narcissism) gives us the lens of the heart to glimpse it.  For the more one studies the self- the “mines”, the identifications, the stories — the more one recognizes how small the boxes actually are that contain these identities.  Like a magnifying glass in the sun rays svadhyaya burns away anything that isn’t truth and what is left IS a kernel; and in that kernel the recognition that we are not only this or that (neti-neti) we are something so much more and- as humility teaches – so much less.  This is the beginning of the journey into the Self, into clearing the channel we seek to be. Perhaps why we often get caught using substances or people to get out of our own way, inhabit the Other, to feel that fleeting sense of home in the unified field- if only for a minute.  The landmine here is that all these are ultimately time-bound and if we cling in any way to the sensations or constrict to remain in that moment, there is no way This Love can fully flow.  At the heart of the heart’s teaching, in the diamond center of the mustard seed is that every element in the Universe is contained in it… in US and if we accept this than how can we deny that this also exists in everyone and everything we see and commune with – indeed a common unity- “a community of light*” (thanks Hafiz)
And the more you study the Self, the closer in you get, the more you see the patterns, the samskaras embedded in the helix, the fractals repeating through the generations.  Fractals are proof of this Essential Sameness no matter the scale.  Polarity like gravity is a sort of container and can remind us of the One in the All, of the Yin in the Yang, of the Life IN the Death and the Death IN the Life.   If we only dance with the peripheral, the superficial and the transitory time-bound and Ego-Fear of disintegration keeps us from delving deeper, we will miss the heart of this teaching.   If we cast stones of judgment at those we think evil or wrong or different we will remain in darkness- for Einstein showed us that the Speed of Light is timeless indeed.  So, can we – can I – hold this paradoxical truth, that the I AM is as capable of that which we fear or despise as it is of that which we love and hold dear and that individual CHOICE – the assertion of personal agency through this particular body vehicle seems to me to be the key.   Perhaps it is only then that an absolute integration into this love can happen… and within that integration lies the seed.  And in that seed the fruition and fuller expression of the unique individual we are in this time-bound lifetime is possible.
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Loren Magruder, 500hr Karuna Advanced Teacher Training Graduate, Mother