Friday, April 28, 2017

YOGA: Body is not stiff, mind is stiff

During high school and college years I used to play basketball in a city club. I was good, physically fit, good with the ball, fast and I could run for hours. In the beginning of new season, the strength is slowly built by daily training. Every day you feel more energy and you can run longer distances. That was in basketball but not in ashtanga yoga. The mostly unspoken truth of ashtanga yoga is its slow progress.

Last week, from Monday to Friday, I've had five practices but I really enjoyed only the one, the rest were slow moving, mechanical and tiring. I practice ashtanga yoga for the last ten years and still I have a lot of problem with the practice. I am 52 now and half primary series makes me exhausted. I am afraid of injuries so I practice with a great care. Nearly all ashtangis suffer injuries from time to time, usually minor, but occasionally major ones that become chronic or permanent.

The “no pain no gain” approach to ashtanga yoga is not good, it inevitably invites injuries. Couple years ago I teared MCL on left knee, and since then the left side sitting postures are great suffering; the right knee is not any better. I started ashtanga believing that physical fitness means going to war with myself. In truth, those who seek pain will surely find it in ashtanga yoga.

The physical benefits of ashtanga have been astonishing for me, but I also learned the hard way there are risks practicing it, and the risks increase with age. In the first year of my practice, in 2006, I was constantly on the verge of sickness, I did daily full primary series at the mysore class in local yoga studio. I felt cleaning power of ashtanga yoga. I remember that a single glass of cold water would make my throat sore.

I have had difficulty understanding simple truth that there are no shortcuts in ashtanga yoga. I was misled by a “no pain no gain” mentality, so I pushed through the walls that often leads me to injury. I had constant wrist pain and back pain with occasional muscle pop ups.

I did not understand that the whole point of ashtanga yoga is to be a friend with the body, not to change it into something I wished or desired but to accept it as it is, to accept what I have right here and now. It took me long time and lot of injuries to get this, and to be quite honest, I am not sure this is still the case. Loving and caring for my physical body is not my primary goal in the practice of ashtanga yoga. YET.

The practice of ashtanga requires the focused awareness of stability, breath and drishti and all its moving parts and pieces. The mind tends to wander and distract, I must continually return to the body. By using breath as the bridge I put my attention of the breath into the areas of the body where I feel the most painful sensation. Relying on breath to relax the stiffness I am bringing softness and sweetness to my mind.

I did noticed that in my practice I make yet another mistake. I try to hold the pose for five breaths and doing that results in a stagnant, rigid practice. Instead of the body I should be in the breath, staying in the flow. As an older ashtangi I should move slowly, slightly, gently, exploring each pose, making subtle adjustments by small degrees. I should avoid fatigue.

Growing older is a shitty business. There is nothing good in that. I'm made more aware each day of my own mortality, and how few decades I possibly still have left on this earth. Yet, when one if still healthy other things became possible. So ashtanga yoga is my main interest right now, I am going to unroll my math right now and do the practice...

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Saint George is my Patron Saint

The story of St. George

George was a Roman soldier who lived at the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth century. He was a good soldier of Rome and a faithful servant of Christ, but he had to chose between the two.  If he remained a soldier he would have to deny Christ and worship the gods of Rome. Then he would be allowed to live in peace. If he remained faithful to Christ he would have to disobey the Emperor and face the consequences.

George set out to the Emperor’s court to plead for the law to be changed. His friends begged him not to go. They could see it would end in his death. When he got the message the Emperor Diocletian refused to see George instead he was condemned to death. He was tortured and dragged though the streets of the city. Eventually he was beheaded. This happened on April 23rd. – St George’s Day.

So George was a great, brave man. Perhaps the story of his slaying a dragon is just a way of saying he stood up against the “dragon” of paganism and of tyranny. We can all learn from George. We all have our dragons – those bad things in our lives we need to struggle against – things like cruelty, unkindness, greed, laziness selfishness.

Sometimes we have to make a stand for truth or right or justice – even when it costs us. To speak up for the weak and the oppressed, not being afraid of being unpopular or appearing uncool because we stand up for what we believe.

In the past for seven years I had photos of Siddharameshwar Maharaj, Nisargadatta Maharaj and Ramana Maharshi hanging on the wall above my meditation place. I had put the photos in very nice frames. I used to bow down in front of each photo before I would start meditation. I consider that act of devotion to be of great importance. Then one day in October 2012, it just came to me to finish with that. I just took the photos down.

I faced the empty wall. For a long time I looked at the empty wall. Seven years the photos were there and now they were missing, The wall looked strange. And then something happened fear entered to my heart. I felt alone, really alone. I was facing my own emptiness.

Later that month, I remembered Gurdjieff and his explanation of St. George. St. George is not what legend said. It is deeply coded message to the seekers of the truth. Dragon is the ego, imagination, beliefs, ideas, concepts etc. St. George represents the mind, the horse is physical body (emotions) and the sword is discrimination.

I went to the church and bought St. George's icon. I put it on the wall. Now, I look at St. George every day. I don't see St. George there, I'm seeing a clear message... Why to worry, everything is nothing. How can nothing touch me?

When I forget the world, the objects around me, when your stop worrying about my relationships with others, when I feel just the presence of "I AM", I feel bliss and love. Then I forget everything, my concepts and the world. This is meditation.

Nothing is, nothing exists. The world is still here in front of me but it has no reality. That is what is called awakening, realization or self-knowledge. It is realization that the world is only illusion. St. George tells me to be strong and have fear of nothing and no one, for everything is nothing.

Real happiness is inside me, and it can not be found outside. In deep sleep I'm happy. I forget myself. Therefore, happiness lies in the forgetting of myself. My personality, my identity, is nothing but a rumor and to constantly remember that I need the courage - the capability to accept that all is illusion.

Nothing can touch me. The "I" is an illusion and what "I" thinks is also illusion. Whatever happens in the world, it is only my imagination, and in fact nothing ever happens, it is only a long dream. I should not be touched by passing appearances.

Happy Saint George's Day!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Master of Self-Realization, An Ultimate Understanding

What you are thinking of as "awake" - some intense new passion for a worthy cause or a deep feeling of love for all existence, is actually the deep sleep, much deeper than a feeling of boredom or indifference. It is an intense association with the Illusion. The bored and the indifferent are on the verge of leaving the lure of the temptress Maya behind, no longer swayed by her shiny attractions. They are on the verge of waking.

- Siddharameshwar Maharaj

It does not matter where do we live, all over the world there is this feeling that something is deeply wrong with our lives. It is felt so clearly; an unnamed busyness keeps us disconnected from the truth.

The world is run by banks and big corporations; they want economic growth at all costs producing stress, depression and apathy for all of us. We work hard just to pay taxes and monthly bills...

People who run these corporations are also humans but they are far apart from the human nature. They possess (or are possessed by) mentality of a predatory spirit who embodies greed; their gluttony and selfishness was transformed them into a predatory monsters. They have heart of ice making it impossible for them to feel compassion or love for others.

The predatory, heartless monsters are the creators of neoliberal capitalism; they are selfish and greedy; they lead this planet. They run this planet by employing tactics of division, celebrating wants and artificial needs for general consumption, creating mass poverty and fear as a system of control...

According to the 2016 statistics... the average canadian home has grown from 1,000 square feet to almost 2,500 square feet. We consume twice as many food and material goods today as we did 50 years ago. All while carrying, on average, nearly $15,000 in credit-card debt.

Society suggesting that we fill up our inner emptiness by buying things. Buy, buy, buy... sugared and processed foods, clothing, cars, new homes, gadgets, plastic surgery, cosmetics, drugs, vacations...

We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like. Just as our fellows who run big corporations we also have lost the connection with our feelings and inner being, and that lack of connection left us heartless and empty.

There is a woman whom one man calls his "wife", another calls his "sister" and a third calls his "daughter". Actually she is nothing but a lump of flesh and bones. Whatever you give a name to comes to exist. All is conceptual and depends upon the concept of the seer. The world and the beings in it are conceptual. The "seer" who takes the world to be real is the ego, and that ego has to be eradicated. If the ego vanishes, then only Reality remains.

- Siddharameshwar Maharaj 

The life's journey is a scam. There is no journey... There is no destination to reach, there is only this moment. And at this moment I am okay with the truth, which is simple but terrifying - we live life with mistaken identity.

We are living our lives just like robots; we're programmed by the society, so routinary, so weak... We create our own reality, but we lack the energy to understand that. We're too busy thinking how wonderful we are, how sensitive, how unique. We are not unique!

We all worry, oooh, how we worry, twenty-six hours a day! And what we worry about?... About me! What about me? What's in this shit for me? What's gonna happen to me? Such egomania, so horrendous but fascinating!

Me, me, me... it is all about me... but the sense of "I" does not reside in any particular part of the body. "I" is not in the body, neither as tenant nor as its owner. Identification with the body is "me", it is a belief, conviction, nothing else. But at once it is accepted, it creates birth and death, greed, desire, hatred, craving and self-importance.

When the 'me' is gone, the concept of being a seeker, the sense of doing something and the idea of something to be attained are also gone. Paramatman is uncovered without doing anything about it. If you examine all of your thoughts, you will find there is no 'I' at all.

-Siddharameshwar Maharaj

And that's where we are... We are here and now; slaves of our fears; under the sway of imagination, concepts, desires and doubts.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ashtanga Yoga and Loneliness

Loneliness is a complex and usually unpleasant emotional response to isolation or lack of companionship. Loneliness typically includes anxious feelings about a lack of connectedness or communality with other beings, both in the present and extending into the future. As such, loneliness can be felt even when surrounded by other people. The causes of loneliness are varied and include social, mental or emotional factors. - Wikipedia

Lonely - web dictionary
1. affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone.
2. destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship.
3. lone; solitary; without company; companionless.
4. remote from places of human habitation.
5. standing apart; isolated.

It all started when my friend told me that he has noticed a fact that lonely people practice ashtanga yoga. Immediately I heard that I dismiss it. I disagreed and I told him there are large ashtanga communities all around the world. There is Mysore and I explained him the circus around it. People practice together and enjoy free time after the practice.

I forgot our conversation and then I read a blog post Apparently, it’s lonely being an Ashtangi According to the post's title being an ashtangi is a lonely thing but when I read the post I remembered my friend's words.

...Perhaps it is just the type of people whom Ashtanga attracts. Slightly lonerish Type As? Of course there is the ultimate “lonely” part of Ashtanga: the home practice. I assume other yogis practice at home, but I don’t feel like there is quite the same  emphasis on such a practice... Even Mysore practice is “lonely.” Sure, you are in a room with a bunch of people, but you are all doing your own thing...

I, as an ashtanga practitioner, do see this “lonely” feeling of ashtanga yoga. The practice definitely calls for lifestyle changes, an inwardness look and life-introspection. The ashtanga eight limbs are so close to self-inquiry.

The loneliest part of ashtanga is being the one of few who early in the morning roll out the mat each day. In such practice there is no teacher telling you what to do and what are you left to focus on. The breath is all that you have and of course your thoughts...

You feel sad and lonely and perhaps romantic at the same time.  That is the first tip of fearlessness, and the first sign of real warrior ship. ~ Chogyam Trungpa

I have discovered my own understanding of ashtanga yoga. It is not about strength so much as it is about keeping attention on breath and strong core... mula bandha. Only daily practice and endless repetition builds the strength very slowly. Unfortunately, there is no shortcuts.

Daily practice of ashtanga yoga have changed me. I need to go early to bed in order to get up for the practice and due to that I have lost the connection with my friends. During the week I'm not going out with them. On the weekend I am with my girlfriend and when she sleep over at my place I am unable to do my practice as planned.

Can daily practice break up my relationship? I think it can. I told my girlfriend that if she is not satisfied with who I am, she is free to find another guy. It sounds cold but it is not so. I am not talking here about feelings. In order for two people to be together they have to share similar interests.

Serious ashtanga yoga practitioners are people who are going through the stages of the awakening. Most of us  are no longer certain what their "outside" purpose is. What drives the world no longer drives us. Seeing the madness of our world so clearly, we may feel somewhat alienated from the culture around us. We stick to our practice and we are no longer run by the ego, yet the enlightenment has not yet become fully integrated into our lives. So we appear lonely in this world.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Yoga is good enough... for divorce

This post is for you, you, a happily married mid-forties man which wife does yoga. Believe me... there is no reason to be afraid, you might read it to the end if you feel that your wife doesn't love you as before. If you can hang on this post long enough, you might come to your senses. I mean, what else can you do?

Well, let me tell you my story...

Today is my ex's birthday. I will not call or text her telling her my happy wishes. We are just two strangers now. I and my lovely wife became just another person on the street, we walked out to separate lives. Sometimes, I do wonder who is she; I look at her like someone who carelessly bumped into me.

Let start from the beginning... There is a strange connection between yoga practice and divorce. At least 70% of women who started practicing yoga, in their late 30’s and into their 40’s, have since gotten divorced.

According to my limited experience, it really appears that yoga practice (indirectly) is a strong influence for divorce decision. At least it holds true in my case. I am a divorced man, after 22 years of marriage, and yes, I do believe yoga was partly to blame for my divorce.

My ex was a yoga practitioner while we were together; she has completed 3 yoga teacher training (200 hours certification each) and countless workshops from Ashtanga celebrity instructors, Hot yoga workshops, Iyengar yoga, Bikram yoga, you name it. She, so to speak, embarked on an introspective journey, sparked by the spiritual practices of yoga.

She read the Alchemist, the Secret and the Power of Now. The three most dangerous pre-divorced books.

She practices yoga, seriously, 4-5 times a week, she becomes extremely self-driven, goal-oriented and independent. She wasn't needy anymore; she’s determined to get what she wants out of this world. She didn't care about the meaning of life; she had a strong mind and sharp opinions. She's well-educated and deeply contemplative. She embraced her individuality to the fullest... She did not need me in her life anymore.

Four years ago we separated, she simply said that we have no future together. I moved out and we got divorced papers after a year. I think what happens to her is so common and it happens to almost all women who practice yoga. Especially women who have spent their 30's being a full-time mom.

Ironically, when women are deeply into yoga, they may experience a wave of spiritual awakening, and they can become frustrated with all the emotions that awakening brings to the surface. They clearly see that something is wrong, their life is an emptiness and other truths about their relationship.

The yoga helped her to rediscover her real position. She was awakened from the mundane life of everyday obligations and the first step done in that newly acquired freedom is to get rid of me. The first thing she did is to blame me as a husband for everything she was lacking in her life.

My ex, just like many others, started to search within... but she did not discover truth, she discovered false things. Good enough... for divorce.

Well, come on, to be quite honest, I knew it. All these years I have known that one day she'll leave me. We have lived a life more and less like strangers. I have learned whatever it is she needed to teach me (and vice verse) so our time was not necessary anymore and it was over.

Is this sounds familiar to you? This is how things are... Realistically, you'll collapse after divorce.

You'll start remembering all the most irrelevant details in your married life. You'll start counting the days for how long are you single. And if you're lucky, you'll find yourself with a couple of divorced buddies, start smoking the red Marlboro, drink IPA beer and start wanking regularly.

We are predictable, and prone repeating the same life mistakes, again and again, so we'll start looking for the women who resembles our ex. We'll call that "moving on". Moving on after divorce generally begins with the online dating. And there we'll get more disappointments which are carefully placed in between episodes of grief and other emotional crisis.

Be prepared on time, it will happen, your world will crash into a million tiny pieces. The world that you're so carefully built from scratch, weaving together dreams and reality to form something so wonderful it seemed it would last forever. Nothing lasts forever. And that's a good thing.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Find your guru, your teacher, your spiritual path...

Login or register now.... at the end of this post, let there be no excuses, no explanations and no regrets. 

Excuses, explanations and regrets are for those uninteresting, apologetic, spiritual but not religious people, for those afraid to laugh and cry, for those afraid to live. They are illogical, complex, and self-centered. It's very common for spiritual people to get offended by something. As if that something gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more than a self importance. I find that offensive has no meaning, has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. I am offended by this... so fucking what.

Laziness, pride and cowardice are the main characteristics of spirituality. Everybody wants to be loved, people want fame above all else, people want to be liked, to be admired. But how we came to this point?

To begin with I must say that practically never in history has spiritual awakening stood at so low a level as at the present time. It has lost all touch with its origin and its meaning so that now it is even difficult to define the term spiritual awakening: that is, to say what awakening is. And this is so in spite of the fact that never in history have there been so many spiritual movements, theories and so many spiritual writings.

Spiritual awakening is sometimes called a New Age science. This is quite wrong. Spirituality is, perhaps, the oldest science, and, unfortunately, in its most essential features a forgotten science. The spiritual awakening, except in modern times has never existed under its own name. For one reason or another spirituality always was suspected of wrong or subversive tendencies, either religious or political or moral and had to use different disguises...

What is spiritual awakening? You see, people as we know are not completed beings; nature develops us only up to a certain point and then leaves us, either to develop further, by our own efforts and devices, or to live and die such as we were born, or to degenerate and lose capacity for development.

We must understand that all people cannot develop and become different beings. Evolution is the question of personal efforts and in relation to the mass of humanity evolution is the rare exception. It may sound strange but we must realise that spiritual awakening is not only rare, but is becoming more and more rare.

Why cannot all people develop and become different beings? The answer is very simple. Because we do not want it. Because we do not know about it and will not understand without suffering what it means, even if we are told. To become a different being we must want it very much and we must see that we are not free. A passing desire or a vague desire based on dissatisfaction with external conditions will not create a sufficient impulse towards awakening.

And here we come at once to a very important fact. We do not know ourselves. We do not know our limitations and possibilities. We do not even know to how great an extent we do not know ourselves. We have all sorts of wrong ideas about ourselves. First of all we do not realize that they are actually in a prison.

What does it mean that we are in a prison? It means that we have no freedom whatsoever. We are in a prison which is brought into motion by world and society. All our actions, words, ideas, emotions, moods and thoughts are produced by external influences. By themselves, we are just an automatons with a certain store of memories of previous experiences, and a certain amount of energy.

We cannot move, think or speak of our own accord. We are marionettes pulled here and there by invisible strings. If we understand this, we can learn more about ourselves, and possibly then things may begin to change for us. But if we cannot realize and understand our utter mechanicalness or if we do not wish to accept it as a fact, we can learn nothing more, and things cannot change for us.

The world we experience is no more "out there" than are our dreams. This might come as a surprise to us, but it is more likely that we simply refuse to see it. And we don't see it because everything what we think is wrong. All things around us, what we take for granted, our day-to-day existence is largely a product of our imagination. Our memory, opinions and beliefs, how we see ourselves and others and even our sense of being free, are not as they seem. The power these delusions hold over us is staggering, yet, they are necessary to help natural function in the world. The world is supported by our "sleep" and the Nature does not want us to "wake up".

The New Agers, so called spiritual people, want to develop spiritually or grow closer to God, or go to Heaven, or raise their consciousness, or get enlightenment, obtain liberation - in short, they are moving, progressing. They are heading toward one point and away from another. But do they ever realize that the essence of their "sleep" is to consider themselves to be a process, to have past and future, to have history, to keep progressing somewhere...

Spiritual awakening is seeing the false as a false.  Truth cannot be seen. To see the false, we must question our beliefs. Of these the idea that we are the body with the consciousness is the worst. With the body comes the world, with the world - God, who is supposed to have created the world and thus it starts - fears, religions, bondage, spirituality, practice, sacrifices, all sorts of systems - all to protect and support "us", frightened out of our wits by monsters of our own making.

Find your guru, find your teacher, find your spiritual path...

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I dance to a different song

If you don't follow my blog but you came from a Facebook group and you just read an article, you might wonder what I'm actually writing about. Well, I'm writing about awakening, spirituality, yoga and daily life. I also write about experiences in relationships and online dating. To be quite honest I'm just having a fun.

By reading my blog you may come to conclusion that my life is great and I have nothing to complain about... and you are quite right. Nevertheless, at this moment, I want to shift the course of my life. I feel an internal desire to turn things around. My vision is not completely clear and I'm not quite sure where I want to end up, so things are about to change.

At age 52, I've reached a point when I just no longer fit in with the crowd. It is difficult for me to admit, but I must be honest, I'm too old for going out and clubbing. There is no reason I should go to clubs if everyone around me is my daughter's age. If you don’t see the problem then you have a problem.

Last weekend was all about drinking. The Dreamer came on Friday and we had four beers each. We were drinking and talking, we went to bed around 2 am. On Saturday we went out to Reservoir Lounge, meet my friends, danced and of course drunk beer. On Sunday I was with my friends in Dark Horse on Bloor and later in Brydens. I had at least five pints of beer.

I'm thinking for myself and I'm seeing my mistakes. What I'm not quite sure is this life my show, is it my dream or just randomly and loosely connected events. But honestly, who the fuck cares. I need to save money, smoke less, drink less and exercise more. Spring is here. Today in Toronto is 20 C and it feels really nice so I'll be rising earlier. So from today I'm starting a new "spring/summer" schedule:

5 am - wake up
7 am - yoga practice (60 min)
6 pm - gym exercise (20 min)
9 pm - sleep

Daily ashtanga yoga half-primary practice, 60 minutes long and once a week the full primary class is a must. I want to have 85 kg without belly fat. I want to include daily gym exercise and running / walking daily activity. I want to increase my energy so I need physical activities. I need to use the gym more often and to start running outside. The money monitoring should be put in place. I want to be more aware of my money spending habits and I must try to spend less and save more.

I’ve come to realization that I should change my relationship with the Dreamer. She takes too much time and she costs me a lot of money. For what? There is no future with her and these days are just passing show. I feel like I am wasting time. I have decided to dedicate the rest of my life in finding the Truth and being who I am. To love someone is to be in heaven. Love is essential for a joyful life. Sex is a wonderful, most creative force in life. But sometimes the same love creates emotional, physical, spiritual, mental turmoil and takes me away from my goal.

So my life from now will be simple with lots of physical activities. I will do yoga and try to eat healthy. I'll continue going to bed at 9 PM and have a good night rest. I don't care what other people think of me. I'm not interested if people going to like me or not.

"I" or "me" or personal self does not exist; personal self is an illusion.
Nothing in this world is true.
The life is a dream and the meaning of life is whatever I give it.
The purpose of life is to enjoy simple existence.

Coming weekend is a long weekend. The Dreamer has kids and I'll be alone. I'll stay in Toronto, no traveling, visiting new places is not for me. It seems everyone fantasizes about traveling around the world. What is there to be seen? Other countries, cities, full of ignorant people or some ruins and stones, reminders of another ignorant culture. The history of mankind is the misery. There is nothing to be learned. I need to do my income tax.

Will you realize when I'm gone
That I dance to a different song
It's a shame but I've got to go

Saturday, April 1, 2017

My Dear Readers

I deleted the Exploring Dreamstate blog on Sunday, September 25, 2016.

There are several reasons why I have done it:

First and foremost, I don't want certain people to read my blog anymore. By reading it they are making a connection between us which I don't want to keep.

Second, I made myself a way too public so some people got carried away with the following of my life.

Third, I could not express myself fully; I've started lying on my own blog, writing what people want to read instead of reporting my life as it is.

Fourth, I want to look at my life as an observer, from the outside, to have a better understanding of where I am.

The new blog is here for myself only to give me orientation for the future and a retrospective of the past making me aware of the present. It is a motivation for yoga practice. It is also a place where I can describe my life as it is, my inner thoughts without being afraid of what others think.

I will be writing in my own words maintain blog's professional look and feel. There will be no more "My Dear readers" and there is no comment section on the posts.

The Exploring Dreamstate posts will go away, no reminder of the past.

So here just came from work, starting a new blog on Tuesday, September 27, 2016.

The King is dead, long live The King!