Optimist

 

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I don´t know if you have been feeling it also but, there´s something in the air… Challenges that are asking for the best of us, expansion is on it´s way. Yes, I am talking weird but what else can I do?

My last weeks have been full of challenges and a really deep understanding of myself has come to the surface. At the beginning I was amazed, confused… I thought Wow! I never saw the others clearer than today but the truth is that I never saw myself clearer than now. It´s scary. Many of the patterns that have been defining my life up to this point are so clear that I can´t do anything but see this as a huge opportunity to transcend them. For the first time I can see the purpose of my life in terms of the expansion of “my own” soul.

I always saw myself as an extremely contradictory person. I used to describe my “style” as a line moving in zig-zag between two parallel lines: Going from one extreme to the other was so natural for me, giving all or nothing. By paying these high energetic prices I was able to move forward towards my own spiritual and practical goals.

Actually: three weeks ago.

Years = three weeks ago.

I never fought against this tendency of mine because I actually did create a lot of amazing stuff. I used to just observed it and allowed it to show me what I thought it was important for me to understand that way: through the shock of contradiction, expecting that there was going to be a moment when I was going to be able to understand what was hiding behind…

Now it´s that time:

Cold becomes warm and warm becomes cold.

Weakness becomes strength.

Hell, heaven.

The extremism in the others helped me to crush my boat into my own harbor, understanding the reasons behind that way of being. Well, we know how much easier is to put things in perspective when they are outside of ourselves. Thank God for the others.

1520812_441528782639274_287793576_nNow, again, I am in the middle of a huge wave of changes where all my thoughts about life, death, love and self-love are in the blender: PRRRRMM!!! PRRRMMM!!!!

I feel that I failed in my most precious enterprise, extremely sad, broken and I saw myself as a coward. At the same time, I am going forward in my search of understanding; I feel hope and being broken feels like an opportunity. Uncertainty is my friend, the future seems at times black; sometimes, full of sunshine.

And there I go again: radicalism is in my DNA.

 

But there is something different now: I saw the comfort hiding behind my way of being; I realized how easy it was for me to go all the way or not make even one step at all. Now that comfort feels suspicious. Today, I don´t identify myself with any of those thoughts and feelings that are either up or down. I don´t identify myself with the sadness or the happiness. Now, I know I have the power to bring harmony to my life.

Now, I will invite the extremes to come towards each other…

Finding balance.

Mountains and me.

I have always been surrounded by mountains, well, coming from a place like Chile is actually very hard to not be close to one. I always remember that amazing feeling of seeing the Andes after a day of rain in Santiago. In that monster-city that Santiago is, we had only some days a year, maybe only some hours a year, the opportunity to smell the rain in the fresh air and find a ray of light behind the trees, to only realize that the amazing Cordillera was there, in her splendor, shining, huge, like witnessing all our movements from the heights. It was just perfect! Words are not enough when comes to nature.

Here, in Chamonix, I REALLY am surrounded by mountains. They are a little bit different from the Andes though: they are closer and are, at the same time, smaller (objectively) but bigger (from where I am standing perspective), the Alps are sharp mountains, the Andes are more soft. I find the Alps very masculine, the Andes are more feminine (this is a VERY personal thing I guess). There might be many other differences and I am sure that a lot of people around me might know more about this subject but, there is something that doesn’t change and is this feeling that I get when I´m staring at the mountains: I simply become quite. Their beauty, majesty and every-day-changing presence touches my heart deeply and I just love it. I feel extremely grateful for this.

I still don´t get the urge to go up the mountains to explore and conquer them. Maybe in the future, who knows.

Meanwhile I will continue enjoying seeing the majesty of nature, enjoying the quietness of my astonished heart.

All of this is because I wanted to say that I feel that I, in my heart, understand what Kōdo Sawaki, zen master (Taisen Deshimaru´s master), is talking about:

Look! Nature is sublime. I understand the problems people have, yet I have never met somebody worthy of my admiration or submission. But the Takagamine Mountain is always looking down on me saying: Kōdo, Kōdo…

Those are beautiful last words, don´t you think?

Not conquering the mountain. We took a lift to this place. Photo by the amazing Daniel Rönnback.

Not conquering the mountain. We took a lift to this place. Photo by the amazing Daniel Rönnback.

Tadasana awareness.

Tadasana, Geeta Iyengar.

Tadasana, Geeta Iyengar.

Being aware of the way we distribute the weight on our feet is very important in all the standing postures and also teach us how to do it when we change and we are on our shoulders, forearms, head and hands.

How can you see where you normally put the weight when you are standing?

As Guruji says in “Light on Yoga”, notice where the soles and heels of your shoes wear out. Another way is to observe your footprint on the sand, this will show you the parts of your foot that are in contact with the floor and the parts that are not.

With this new awareness try Tadasana: Re-distribute the weight of your body on your feet in a way that you can now bring balance to the feet structure and form.

Notice if there is any change in the sensation of your own body and mind.

The way we stand affect our spines and this, affects our mind. Tadasana is very usefull to awake our bodies, our minds and brains.” Geeta Iyengar.

Garudasana: Some technical info.

Garudasana means Eagle posture, it´s also the name of the king of the birds.
The vehicle of Visnu.

The asana develops the ankles and remove stiffness in the shoulders. This is why it can be effective in cases of “muscle-contraction headaches” because it can release the muscle-tension in critical areas around the neck, shoulders and chest.
It´s also good if you want to have access to your lower back and buttocks without the tension created in case you have “short” hamstrings.

Be careful if you have any shoulder injury, more specific: rotator cuff problems. And remember, in case you have any specific condition go out there and find a good teacher that, I´m sure, will be happy to guide and help you.

Personally, one of the things I like more about this posture is that I find it one of the most mysterious ones between the standing postures.

Daniel took the photo without knowing anything about the meaning of it´s name. And three little birds are there with me, singing sweets songs. Synchrony is cool, isn´t it?

More photos and info at: http://www.facebook.com/yogaalegre.

Garudasana by Daniel Rönnback.

Garudasana by Daniel Rönnback.

Beginner.

Stay Open. Photo by Daniel Rönnback.

Stay Open. Photo by Daniel Rönnback. 2014, Chamonix Mont-Blanc, France.

One of the things I love about yogasana practice is what mister Iyengar clearly says: “I know the postures from yesterday but today I become a beginner. ”

This is a huge challenge.

I like to think that what happens on my yoga mat is a reflex of the things that are happening outside of it. I feel it on the good things and also when a challenge appears.

The challenge of feeling like a beginner is important for me.

What I´ve learn through my yogasana practice is that, everyday I am dealing with a new version of myself. Everything changes constantly and if I forget about it, stagnates my practice immediately.

I love those days when I feel clean, fresh and new not only after the practice but before.

Those days when I am open to the adventure that I can see ahead of me and when, even though I know how to begin, I never know how it will end.

I love when I feel like I am open to find new ways to approach to the “problems” that the practice puts in front of me and that, instead of taking the regular way, I allow my self to experiment and create new points of view. I love when I feel creative. Makes me feel that I am growing.

One of the goals of the yoga practice is to go beyond our egos and, even though I am crushing with my ego constantly, I like to think that, when I feel inspire and creative I am going further in my experience of myself re defining my own limits because, rather than undergo regular mental processes -that do nothing but to strengthen the ego- I can find a new way of dealing with myself, my “problems” and my experience.

It´s beautiful because keeps me humble in front of the beauty and it´s not only my mind that opens, it´s my body and my heart also.

Throwing away stuff

Good to bake.

Good to bake.

I don´t like molds. Well, maybe for cooking.

In the process of growing up, the only thing I have been really doing is throwing away stuff. Because, the only thing I have realized it´s that all those things I assumed have a define shape (happiness, relationships, success, spirituality, yoga, etc.) well, in the practical-real-alive life, don`t fit with any type of preconceived mold.

The process of throwing away stuff it´s nice and deep and I like to think that has to do a lot with vairagya, Patañjali´s non-attachment (I.15).

In my mind it´s like this:

I have a mental idea of what happiness is. I have read about it, I have seen it on TV. Everyone around, my parents, my friends, my teachers, everyone, seem to be very into it so, OK, let´s go there!

Really?

Really?

Then, in my mind, a creative process begins where, happiness starts to be connected with other stuff; happiness is colorful (some specific colors not black, oh no), has some temperature (spring-summer temperature), happiness has to do with some people around me and, I can even listen the happiness soundtrack playing.

The thing is that in the practical-real-alive life what happens it´s more related to what “The Tibetan book of the Dead” says: “wishing for happiness, we pass our human lives in suffering”.

Patañjali also talks about suffering (II.4). He says that the cause of suffering is avidya, ignorance, delusion.

Well, let´s say it: Creating a stable pattern for something that it´s clearly in constant transformation and movement, have to be ignorance.

Once, I read in Alejandro Jodorowsky´s “La via del Tarot”, that perfection is dead. In perfection nothing-nothing can change because if that happens, there is no perfection any more and well, when nothing can change we are in front of something weirdest than death itself (because changes continue even after death).

The thing I wanted to write about was that I like this feeling of throwing away mental structures that are here creating pain and discomfort.

Before: When something didn´t fit in my mold my first reaction always was something like: But, come on! You have to fit here, this IS love, success, happiness, friendships, yoga, etc. (The list is endless) And there I was, fighting against something bigger than me, feeling bad.

For the last years now, I have been asking myself: Why do I want the things to be different from what they are? Will it change the way I feel love, the way I feel happiness? Maybe the form will change, but not the content. Maybe, if the form change, the content also suffers some changes.

Maybe the key is to be open.

I am now practicing see things as “they are” without putting my preconceptions on them. I am practicing to not interrupt the others in the way they share their own feelings and I am feeling light.

No, I am not arranging my molds on the side; I am throwing the stuff away from me. Creating space.

Away! (Mengyu Chen in the art)

Away! (Mengyu Chen in the art)

I am letting happiness find me.

Be.

I am allowing love be.

Humbly and gratefully.

Rishikesh Relief

During the month of June, this year, floods and landslides devastated the northern region of Uttarakhand, India.

Is in this region where we can find the holy city of Rishikesh, a city that has been define as the “the world capital of Yoga” and, also, as the “The Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas”, since it´s the starting point for travelling to the four Chota Char Dham pilgrimage places — Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.

The emblematic Shiva idol was washed away by the Ganges river.

The emblematic Shiva idol was washed away by the Ganges river.

 My dear friend Kay Rush lives a couple of months a year in Rishikesh where she studies Hindi and practice yoga with Usha Devi. When all this devastation started to occur in June, she felt that maybe we could be able to help the people of this region in a different way and she invited me to be part of an NGO (Non-governmental organization) that we created together with Mahamandaleshwar Swami Abhishek Chaitanya Ji. We call the NGO Rishikesh Relief and it has for mission to provide food and basic supplies to the victims of the disaster and, also, we have the intention to help them in the rebuilding of fundamental infrastructures like schools and hospitals.

Rishikesh-Relief_LOGO

 

After a couple of months organizing all the papers require to make this in a good way, last week we had the honor to receive Swamiji here, in his first visit to Europe, and together the three of us, we formally release the NGO here in France and Italy.

Here in the Chamonix valley, we had the opportunity to listen one of Swamiji´s lectures on Yoga philosophy where he explain to us the eight limbs of yoga: the Ashtanga Yoga of Patañjali. Personally, I felt it was such a wonderful moment, where all the yoga teachers and practitioners around the valley came to listen to him… We were wound 40 people and the sensation after the lecture was of understanding, openness and gratefulness.

Here you have some pictures of the lecture:

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I´m really grateful to be have the opportunity to help people in a deep way.

Kay flew to Rishikesh yesterday and, once there, she will be able to see how is everything and which are the best ways to start helping the people there. I will join Swamiji and Kay in November.

Please, if you want to stay in touch and help us like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and check our website: www.rishikeshrelief.org.

And don´t forget to share this information with others!

Thank you so much!

Song of the Soul

I am neither ego nor reason, I am neither mind nor thought,

I cannot be heard nor cast into words, nor by smell nor sight ever caught:

In light and wind I am not found, nor yet in earth and sky –

Consciousness and joy incarnate, Bliss of the Blissful am I.

 

I have no name, I have no life. I breathe no vital air,

No elements have moulded me, no bodily sheath is my lair:

I have no speech, no hands and feet, nor means of evolution –

Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss in dissolution.

 

I cast aside hatred and passion, I conquered delusion and greed;

No touch of pride caressed me, so envy never did breed:

Beyond all faiths, past reach of wealth, past freedom, past desire,

Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss is my attire.

 

Virtue and vice, or pleasure and pain are not my heritage,

Nor sacred texts, nor offerings, nor prayer, nor pilgrimage:

I am neither food, nor eating, nor yet the eater am I –

Consciousness and joy incarnate, Bliss of the Blissful am I.

 

I have no misgiving of death, no chasms of race divide me,

No parent ever called me a child, no bond of birth ever tied me:

I am neither disciple nor master, I have no kin, no friend –

Consciousness and joy am I, and merging in Bliss is my end.

 

Neither knowable, knowledge, nor knower am I, formless is my form,

I dwell within the senses but they are not my home:

Ever serenely balanced, I am neither free not bound –

Consciousness and hoy am I, and Bliss is where I am found.

2_Salto al Vacio

I took this from “The Illustrated Light on Yoga” .

I never read this before and I don´t know who wrote it but it brought peace to my heart and I thought that, probably, that could happened to everyone reading it.

What do you think?

 

Circadian rhythm sleep disorder or… Jet Lag.

Reality during the day.

Reality during the day.

Oh my God.

I have not been able to sleep well since I came back from Chile. I think that I have been sleeping something around 10 hours in total during the last four days.

I never had a Jet Lag like this before – and I can understand that idea that it´s easy to get crazy if you don´t get enough sleep-. It´s not that I´m dying but I am in a super-duper low energy mode with, reality, during the day, looking like a dream and, during the night, looking like something really hard to handle with.

But, since I´m a positive person and I see every crisis as an opportunity, I have been learning some very interesting things about how to deal with your yoga practice when you are jet lagged. Here you have my observations:

  • First of all (this might sound obvious but I think sometimes obvious things are the easiest to forget): Practice needs to change. I mean, seriously, my body simply can´t do a long sirsasana without feeling super dizzy or a long sequence of standing postures without feeling that I´m about to fall. This takes us to the next point
  • Taking it easy: Everything we do in the practice has to be done with precaution, slowly and tenderly. This type of practice is an amazing opportunity to listen one self in a new way and treat ourselves with love.
  • Props are my friends: In general I use props to go deeper in my understanding of the actions in the yogasanas but, during the last couple of days, I have been using props in the restorative-relaxing way. Urdvha Dhanurasana looks impossible but some restorative backbends with the chair or bolsters feel like a massage to my spirit that´s learning how invigorating actions can be done in a gentle way.
  • Recovering the energy (or distribute it in a better way) is the mantra. Listening to the body, conscious breathing and tender (but precise) movements and actions will help us to re-build or find the energy that is missing, helping us A LOT in our day life.

During my practice, I feel that my body is tired, confuse and lost. And the energy that I usually feel moving trough myself gets stuck in my joints or, simply, is not there at all.

I have been trying different sequences every day/night (my practice today was at 04:00am) and I will share with you this sequence that I found that it was made for jet lag. Here you have the adaptation I did of it for my own needs:

1.- Virasana

2.- Supta Virasana on bolster with support for the head

3.- Baddha Konasana for Supta Baddha Konasana on bolster.

4.- Padmasana

5.- Supta Padmasana  on bolster  and changing sides.

6.- Uttanasana, with support for the crown of the head.

7.- Adho Mukha Svanasana with support for the head.

8.- Sirsasana: I stayed something around three minutes, I felt super dizzy but my body was “waking up” slowly.

9.- “Rope I”

10.- Salamba Sarvangasana and part of it´s cycle: Eka and Parsva eka pada sarvangasana, Supta konasana, Parsva halsana and Halasana: I added this because it´s a posture where I feel good and I can go deeper on it,  keeping the actions but, at the same time, enjoying the “refresh” that the posture brings.

Forward bends with support for both the pelvis and the head feel really good! Also very gentle twisting actions with the help of the chair or the bolsters bring calm and space.

All these are just ideas since I´m talking from my own experience. I´m sure that, if you have been practicing for a while, you will be able to understand and listen what your body is telling you and there´s a big chance that, your needs will be different from mine.

If you don´t know what to do I absolutely recommend you to find a teacher who can guide you properly.

They estimate that the “recovery rate is one day per time zone crossed. That gives me at least two more days, although I already feel a little more adapted to the rhythm of the mountains, the most important thing is that I feel happy and grateful to be learning from this experience.

Time Zones of the World, from Wikipedia.

Time Zones of the World, from Wikipedia.