Sex, the tool of the soul.

I don’t know the question, but sex is definitely the answer.

Woody Allen

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Every living being is biologically programmed to keep its genome on but some are luckiest than others.
The extraordinary pleasure of sex is one of the most powerful instruments of nature; many species (of course humans is one of these) experiment sexual activity as a recreational moment and not just as an uncontrollable push for reproduction.

Considering the importance of sex, it is not unexpected that many ancient cults did contemplate it as one of the mystical powers living in us.
Unluckily, the obscurantist period that rolled up the west part of the world since the advent of Christianity and other exoteric religions (religions for the crowd), contributed to the complete suppression of these antique cults which are often forgotten, disliked and misunderstood unless you study that part of the mysticism which is known as esotericism (direct teaching of a secret doctrine from a master to a few people)*.

In the eastern part of the world, instead, some rituals, religions and worship still live as they were in the past, saving the genuine teachings and handing down the traditional notions.
In these cults we can appreciate the recognition of the relevance of sex with no shyness and modesty.
Just to bring some examples we can observe the cult of Śiva or the one referred to Pārvatī; in the traditional literature (Purāṇa) of these traditions we can find a lot of tales about the sexual adventures of the two Gods.
The devout also venerate the “Lingam” (a symbol which represents the phallic aspect of the God Shiva) that is often represented in union with the “Yoni” (a stylised representation of female genitalia).

Unfortunately in some ways the terrible influence of the patriarchal puritan and restrictive religions (Islam and Christianity, considering the story of the country) arrived in India too and the demonstration is the controversial topic of homosexuality.
In the Indian subcontinent homosexuality has been considered a crime till 2009 but was fully accepted in past and we have proofs of this in ancient religious texts (i.e. Ṛgveda), sculptures and paintings. To make matters worse, in Indian ancient culture there was also a very deep acceptance of transsexuality, sure enough they considered the Hijras as the result of the balance of the polarity…of course,  in spite of this interpretation, they still are strongly discriminated.

Even more important is the impact of sex and sexual energies if we look at the Tantrik doctrines or, more in general, those traditions which belongs to the so known “left-hand path” (that, I’m sorry to disappoint someone’s expectations, has nothing to do with satanism!!!).
Talking about Tantrism, we don’t have to think about it as a stand-alone religion but instead, as a different point of view in the setting of Hinduism.
Tantrism is often related to sexual practices because on the basis of this method, the devote doesn’t have to eliminate the stimuli and temptations of the world but exalt them.
The person who is practicing shouldn’t cancel desires by abstaining but please them in a Ritual way till reach the paroxysm. This allow the elevation to another level of all those things which normally bond the human beings to the Veil of Maya (world of illusion).
A clear example is the Panchamakara  (also known as “5 Ms”) which refers to the 5 elements used in the Rituals:
– Madya (wine)
– Māṃsa (meat)
– Matsya (fish)
– Mudrā (parched grain)
– Maithuna (sexual intercourse).

The importance of sex in Tantrik practice is underlined also buy the presence of a specific therm that is Kuṇḍalinī.
Kuṇḍalinī is the Śakti, the divine energy living dormant in every human being.
The tradition describes it as a rolled up snake ready to spring upwards when correctly stimulated.
This serpent, that wraps itself in the Muladhara Chakra, when jumps up through the Sushumna, arrives directly to the Sahasrara Chakra (the thousand petals lotus).
Of course, this moment coincide with the orgasm.

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The Ophidian Oracle -Austin Osman Spare- 1951

According to these traditions, this is the more terrific power human beings own, and you don’t need to perform a specific ritual  or practice to understand that it’s really like that.

Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.

Oscar Wilde

Before and during the orgasm our body is subject to many rapid and concomitant physiological changes which are strong enough to create a momentary dissociation from reality (have you ever noticed that even if you’re really worried about something, during the peak of sexual pleasure every concern just dissolve?) and it is very interesting to analyze the multiple systems involved in this process.

The designates central nervous system control of sexual responsiveness are the hypothalamus, brainstem and spinal cord.
However, for all its primitive functions human sex is surprisingly complex and versatile and there is also an evidence for cerebral cortical involvement as demonstrate in a recent work1.
The brain activity changes (like i.e. the electroencephalographic laterality changes2) which characterize human sex has been studied both in male and female in many different ways (some articles3, 4, 5 about this are available in bibliography) and the very curious thing is that despite the differences of brain activity during the intercourse and genital stimulation, the way brain response to orgasm is the same in men and women6, so the mystical intuition that the orgasmic energy is something “divine” living in all of us (independently from gender) seems to be very smart.

Psychiatry also confirms the obvious importance of equilibrated sexual life and thought and suggest that a huge part of the nowadays present neurosis can originate from this sphere and, in this sense, repression of our instincts and inclinations is one of the most dangerous behavior we can have.

In conclusion, then, whether you consider your sexual impulse as something sacred or not, the best gift you can do to yourself is to live it plenty and serenely enjoying the moment both alone or with whoever wants to share it with you.

 

ŚĀNTI ŚĀNTI ŚĀNTI

 

*The concept of exoteric and esoteric cults and religions is much more complicated but I didn’t wanna bore with off-topics.

 

Bibliography

1Functional neuroanatomy of human cortex cerebri in relation to wanting sex and having it.
[Georgiadis JR]
Clinical Anatomy 2015 Apr;28(3):314-23.

2Electroencephalographic laterality changes during human sexual orgasm
[Harvey D. Cohen, Raymond C. Rosen, Leonide Goldstein]
Archives of Sexual Behavior, , Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 189–199

3PLEASURE AND BRAIN ACTIVITY IN MAN: Deep and Surface Electroencephalograms During Orgasm.
[HEATH, ROBERT G. M.D., D.M.Sci.]
Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease: January 1972

4Functional MRI of the Brain during Orgasm in Women.
[Barry R. Komisaruk, Beverly Whipple]
Annual Review of Sex Research: Volume 16, 2005 – Issue 1, Pages 62-86

5Increase in cerebral blood flow of right prefrontal cortex in man during orgasm.[Jari TiihonenJyrki KuikkaJukka Kupila Kaarina Partanen, Pauli VainioJuha Airaksinen, Markku EronenTero HallikainenJarmo PaanilaIlpo Kinnunen, Janne Huttunen]
Neuroscience Letters, Volume 170, Issue 2, 11 April 1994, Pages 241-243

6Men versus women on sexual brain function: Prominent differences during tactile genital stimulation, but not during orgasm.
[Janniko R. Georgiadis, A.A.T. Simone Reinders, Anne M.J. Paans, Remco Renken, Rudie Kortekaas]
Human Brain Mapping, Volume 30, Issue 10, October 2009, Pages 3089–3101

 

Aknowledgments

Ph.: Martina Boscaglia
Model: Beatrice Badone

 

 

 

 

 

Annunci

The sick breath.

Close your eyes.
Focus on your body and mind.
Inhale.
Feel the breath in you.
It’s fresh, it’s powerful, it’s life…it’s prāṇa.

The concept of Prāṇa is one of the most important in the Hindu philosophy; this word is literally translated as “life” but it also means “breath”.
It’s important to understand that it doesn’t refer just to the air we need to survive but also to something more deep and complicated.
To understand what Prāṇa iswe have to consider the entire universe as permeated by a sort of thin energy which is essential for life.
This energy is the still pulsating essence of Brahmā’s breath.
Prāṇa is the vital puff which permits life and must be equilibrated in life.

According to the physiological vision of the Hindu tradition, human beings have specific canals in which the energy flow; these are the Nadis that are connected with those points (Chakras) in which the energy does circulate creating vortexes.

Due to the disharmonc lifestyle of the contemporary society, human beings are often unable to let Prāṇa flow correctly and harmonically in their body; Prāṇāyāmā techniques are very useful to help our body in the process of getting back it’s natural ability of absorbing Prāṇa.
It’s pretty intuitive that breath is the most direct way to contact the universe outside us, so the most we know about the correct way of breath, the most we can get in touch with Prāṇa.
Unluckily, the modern lifestyle doesn’t affect just the people but the entire world in which we live and using respiration to equilibrate our energy is not always as easy as it seems.

The atmospheric pollutions, often, represent a real problem.
India, the cradle of Yoga, is sadly renowned for the atmospheric contamination; sometimes smog levels are so high that many cities seem to be suspended into a cloud.
The fog sometimes is so thick that the sun is barely visible.
A study1 conduced in Delhi demonstrates that this condition can cause vitamin D deficiency in children from 9 to 24 months because of the lack of UVB reaching the ground in some areas of the city.

Of course we should remember that these pollutions don’t just cause problems to our skin, but also to the immune and respiratory systems; furthermore they can be responsible of ocular diseases (just to say some…).
A very interesting work2 has been done about this topic and it’s available on the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).

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In conclusion, believing or not in Prāṇa, the air we breath is the first source of life for all of us and the best thing we can do is learn how to respect it for ourselves and all the other living beings on planet earth.

ŚĀNTI ŚĀNTI ŚĀNTI

Bibliography

1The impact of atmospheric pollution on vitamin D status of infants and toddlers in Delhi, India.
[K S AgarwalM Z MughalP UpadhyayJ L BerryE B MawerJ M Puliyel]
Archives of Disease in Childhood, BMJ Publishing Group Ltd, Aug 1, 2002.

2National burden of disease in India from indoor air pollution.
 [Kirk R. Smith]
 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 97 no. 24, November 21, 2000.

 

Aknowledgments

Ph.: Sabrina Penna & Valentina Negrini

 

Memento mori.

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To fear death, gentlemen, is no other than to think oneself wise when one is not, to think one knows what one does not know. No one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings for a man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of evils.

-Socrates-

What is death?
Is it simply the end of life or, on the other hand, the beginning of something different?

Hinduism believes humans are “jivas” (limited beings) composed by body and soul; the first one is just an evanescent shell that the soul chose to spend a period of its eternity in order to collect experience till the moment in which it will be definitely liberated.
From this point of view, then, death is just one of the natural processes in the existence of jiva; a moment of rest and restore before the instant in which the soul will come back to the Great Illusion to have another experience.
This is a continuous process which will (hopefully) lead the soul, one day, to the capacity of being completely detached from everything and became the whole.
Till that step, then, death is not a terrible moment of loss (not at least for the being who is experiencing it) but a key passage of transformation throughout the path; it is a radical change which gives to your soul the opportunity to find another means that, maybe, could be the last one.

Considering the drastic importance of this transition we can easily understand why the Gods of the Hindu pantheon which are related to death are usually characterized by an aggressive and terrifying aspect.
Nevertheless, what they represent is completely opposite to the image of darkness and violence.

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Many centuries separate us from the first human being who started to meditate about death but we still are here asking ourselves the same things and we still don’t find a universal answer. After all, none came back from the other side to tell us how is it!

Well, Dr. Sam Parnia, director of the Human Consciousness Project at the University of Southampton, does not agree.

Starting from collecting the experiences of those people who survived cardiac arrests (CA), Dr. Parnia and his group demonstrate that if your heart stops beating your brain still experiences awareness during a period that could be long enough to make you conscious of the fact that you’re dying.1
The study, first published in 2014, recently caused fuss after an interview in which researchers at New York University’s Langone School of Medicine said they’re studying patients who’ve suffered cardiac arrest but have been revived. These doctors say some survivors recall vivid conversations that went on around them even several minutes after they were pronounced dead.
The interesting thing is that, technically, when the heart stops pumping blood and blood flow to the brain cuts off, cerebral cortex also slows down instantly and within 2 to 20 seconds flatlines.
According to these datas, what they say seems to be impossible but nonetheless many of his patients who experienced personally the cardiopulmonary resuscitation are the living example of these theories.

For some people be conscious of their own death can be the worst scenery they could imagine but if you think about your existence as a cycle in which the end of your life in one body is just an opportunity more to enhance your Spirit, then be conscious that your leaving the present life represents an amazing moment of growth and be aware of it while it’s happening could be one of the best mystical experience a human being can reach.

ŚĀNTI ŚĀNTI ŚĀNTI

 

Post Scriptum
If you like to have an anthropological different point of view and know more about the Mesoamerican traditions and celebration of death, here you have a beautiful article that I sincerely recommend: https://corinnazaffarana.wordpress.com/2017/10/23/el-dia-de-los-muertos-la-festa-messicana-in-onore-della-morte/

 

Bibliography

AWARE-AWAreness during REsuscitation-A prospective study.
[Sam Parnia, Ken Spearpoint, Gabriele de Vos, Peter Fenwick, Diana Goldberg, Jie Yang, Jiawen Zhu, Katie Baker, HJayley Killingback, Haula McLean, A. Maziar Zafari, Neal Dickert, Roland Beisteiner, Fritz Sterz, Melanie Woo, Michael Berger, Celia Warlow, Siobhan Bullock, Salli Lovett, Russell Metcalfe Smith McPara, Sandra Marti-Navarette, Pam Cushing, Paul Wills, Kayla Harris, Jenny Sutton, Anthony Walmsley, Charles D. Deakin, Paul Little, Mark Farber, Bruce Greyson, Elinor R. Schoenfel]. Resuscitation, Volume 85, Issue 12, Pages 1799–1805.

 

Aknowledgments

Ph.: Martina Boscaglia
Drowing: Paola Barazzoni

 

Prisoners of our own mind.

FullSizeRender 3Everybody knows that control the stream of thoughts is not that easy, especially if we are  in the grip of emotions.

Emotions are defined as effective state of consciousness in which joy, fear, hate, sorrow or the like, are experienced as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness; it’s intuitive, then, that command emotions is even harder than commands thoughts.

Of course I do agree with all those who says that fall pray to emotions is not good but, anyhow, I don’t think it’s good to totally control them either.
You are defined by all your characteristics summed one to the other and feelings are something unavoidable for every human being (thanks God so it is!).
The trick is in living the emotions without stopping and controlling them and without let them control us.
Live plenty a sensation in the moment in which we experience it, means “to be here now“. Let that feeling  follows us and grow up in, means to give it own life and became slaves of that emotion and, consequently, means to be stuck in the moment in which it borns.
But to be trapped in a frame of our life is not good for anyone, especially if you’re a Yogi which is trying to grow up through the experience of life.

Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.A

Then the question: can we get used to live emotions without being too influenced from them?
As usual the answer must be done considering the biology of our brain.

Taking in consideration the vastness of human emotions I will take as example one of the most known to be uncontrollable: jealousy.
Jealousy is a complex emotion marked by insecurity and fearing the loss of something important. It is highlighted by feelings of abandonment and anger.

A very recent study1 demonstrates the cingulate cortex to be the most involved part of the brain during the experience of jealousy (so it is in coppery titi monkeys and, then, probably in humans).
Cingulate cortex is the place in which social menace and issues are unconsciously elaborate.
So, is it possible to influence an unconscious mechanism of the brain?

Is not easy to answer this question, actually…we can propose some hypothesis considering the mechanisms of synaptic depression analyzed in habituation experiments performed on the Aplysia and say “yes”, but there is no scientific evidences about the specific case we are  considering.

Personally I agree with the tradition of Yoga which teach to learn how not to be tied to something or someone in order not to be blind from emotions.

You can only lose what you cling to.B

I think that we are able to act on ourselves in this way by frequently putting to the test our emotive reactions in order to live them without suffer the consequences provoked by a bad management of the feelings we are living and my personal experience confirmed me that is so.
Maybe in some years neurobiology will be able to give a concrete explanation to this process and everything will be clearer…after all, it wouldn’t be the first time philosophy understand something before science gives the instruments to prove it.

ŚĀNTI ŚĀNTI ŚĀNTI

 

Bibliography

1Imaging, Behavior and Endocrine Analysis of “Jealousy” in a Monogamous Primate. [Nicole Maninger, Sally P. Mendoza, Donald R. Williams, William A. Mason, Simon R. Cherry, Douglas J. Rowland, Thomas Schaefer and Karen L. Bales.] Front. Ecol. Evol., 19 October 2017

 Quotes

Thich Nhat Hanh

Buddha

 

Mantras: the vibrations of God.

IMG_0897In every religion and spiritual path there are some phrases which are supposed to be repeated over and over in order to make the person more concentrate, elevate or even in touch with God.

Examples of these practices can be found in Native American populations; shamans used to sing sacred formulae while preparing potions or holy instruments for their activities. In African tribes  also was (and still is) custom to sing while performing Rituals.
The same role have the prayers used in religions as Christianity (just think about the rosary) or Islam.

In Hinduism the repetition of words or phrases does assume a more complicated meaning. It has not just the function of a prayer but it’s a vocal representation of the archetypical thought, a sacred vibration which can be used as a prayer, a mystic formula or a meditative practice.

Have you ever been into a Yoga class in which before to start the teacher asked you to “chant the Oṃ”?
The Oṃ (Auṃ) is the most famous Mantra of the Hinduism; you can find it opening a lot of sacred religious texts and this is why usually it’s used at the beginning (sometimes also at the end) of the practice in Yoga.
The graphic representation of the Oṃ (ॐ), is very known and amply used nowadays all over the world but analyze all the meanings of this mantra would entail an extreme extension of the article.

Anyway, my personal experience taught me that the repetition of Mantras helps a lot in preparing body and mind to meditation; for this reason I’ve been looking for scientific trials which explains how mantras operate.
Unfortunately the specific effects of Mantras has not been studied as much as Meditation but I would like to bring you a couple of examples in order to have (as usual) a demonstration that the efficacy of these practices are real and quantifiable.

In 2012 the article “Comparison effect of Gayatri Mantra and Poem Chanting on Digit Letter Substitution Task1 the authors aim was to “evaluate the effects of Gayatri mantra (GM)A chanting on attention as measured by digit-letter substitution task (DLST)B“.
In the study also the effects of Poem line (PL) chanting has been evaluated and the results demonstrate that in both case there is an improvement of the results in the test that is about 4.85% in case of chanting the PL and 21,67% when chanting the GM. (These results has been statistically significative especially for the female group of the study.)

Another very interesting study is the one called “Repetitive speech elicits widespread deactivation in the human cortex: the “Mantra” effect?”2.

In the background presented in the abstract we can read:
Mantra (prolonged repetitive verbal utterance) is one of the most universal mental practices in human culture. However, the underlying neuronal mechanisms that may explain its powerful emotional and cognitive impact are unknown. In order to try to isolate the effect of silent repetitive speech, which is used in most commonly practiced Mantra meditative practices, on brain activity, we studied the neuronal correlates of simple repetitive speech in nonmeditators – that is, silent repetitive speech devoid of the wider context and spiritual orientations of commonly practiced meditation practices.

And then, in the results:
We demonstrate that the repetitive speech was sufficient to induce a widespread reduction in BOLD signal compared to resting baseline. The reduction was centered mainly on the default mode network, associated with intrinsic, self-related processes. Importantly, contrary to most cognitive tasks, where cortical-reduced activation in one set of networks is typically complemented by positive BOLD activity of similar magnitude in other cortical networks, the repetitive speech practice resulted in unidirectional negative activity without significant concomitant positive BOLD. A subsequent behavioral study showed a significant reduction in intrinsic thought processes during the repetitive speech condition compared to rest.”

So, in conclusions:
Our results are compatible with a global gating model that can exert a widespread induction of negative BOLD in the absence of a corresponding positive activation. The triggering of a global inhibition by the minimally demanding repetitive speech may account for the long-established psychological calming effect associated with commonly practiced Mantra-related meditative practices.”

 

Even though I just presented a couple of examples summed to my personal experience  I think we have evidence enough to believe that chanting Mantras is an effective technique to prepare the mind to meditation and practice.
So, remember, before to start your session chant your Mantra and enjoy the feeling it provokes.

ŚĀNTI ŚĀNTI ŚĀNTI.

 

Bibliography

1 [Pradhan B, Derle SG. Anc Sci Life. 2012 Oct;32(2):89-92.]

2 [Berkovich-Ohana A, Wilf M, Kahana R, Arieli A, Malach R. Brain Behav. 2015 Jul;5(7):e00346. doi: 10.1002/brb3.346. Epub 2015 May 4.]

 

Footnotes

A

“Oṃ
Bhūr-Bhuvaḥs-Suvaḥ
Tát-Savitúr-Váreṇyaṃ
Bhárgo Devásya Dhīmahi
Dhíyo Yo Naḥ
Pracodayáāt”

Ṛgveda III.62.10

Digit symbol substitution test (DSST), is a neuropsychological test useful to evaluate the attention abilities.

Meditate more, get sick less.

DSCN4893.jpgSince when meditation has been discovered in the western part of the world it’s been pretty intuitive that people who use this practice relish a lot of benefits both in mental equilibrium and in physical wellness.

The scientific community, then, started to have an interest in investigating the physiological processes which drive to Meditation and the effects of this practice.
The first trials have been conduced during the seventies but nowadays there still is an interest about.
In these studies many different aspects has been considered such as the physiological, morphological, psychological etc. changes provoked by meditation.

Usually the techniques used in these works are related to the practice of the Transcendental Meditation (TM). Of course many other types of Meditation are known (Zen Meditation, Mindulness Meditation, Vipassanā, Dynamic Meditation etc.) but the TM seems to be very indicated to teach how to practice to people who never did it before.

Since many works (as in example “Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation”)1 demonstrate the efficacy of Meditation in influencing the immune system, some studies has been done evaluating the possibility of employing meditation in chronicle diseases related to it.

In the article “The Effects of meditation and Visual Imagery on an Immune System Disorder: Dermatomyositis”2 the authors concluded: “the results demonstrate a statistically significant relationship between mind-body therapies and the patient’s recovery from dermatomyositis, possibly mediated by influences on the humoral immune system. A key factor in the recovery was the slower decay rate of meditation and visual imagery compared to stress. As dermatomyositis is a humorally mediated immune microvasculopathy, the benefits of meditation and imagery in our patient comport with a growing body of evidence showing that these techniques influence immune system function.”

Other interesting studies has been leaded in HIV-infected patients.
A couple of examples are: “Effects of a Behavioral Stress-Management Program On Anxiety, Mood, Self-Esteem, and T-Cell Count in HIV Positive Men.”3 and “Stress Management and Immune System Recosnstitution in Symptomatic HIV-Infected Gay Men Over Time: Effects on Transitional Naive T Cells (CD4+ CD45RA+CD29+)”4. Also in this case, the authors concluded that “stress management to reduce arousal of the nervous system and anxiety would be an appropriate component of a treatment regimen for HIV infection” and “Stress management is associated with immunologic reconstitution in HIV-positive gay men”.

Even though in this brief article I just presented an handful of examples, in literature there is a good number of studies about meditation and luckily the scientific community seems to be interested enough to keep investigating the potential of this powerful technique.

These and all the other studies demonstrate that Meditation can be a very useful support for our immune system but we don’t have to read it like if it is the cure; we should better consider it like a solid base to start the process of healing (or controlling of the symptoms) that medicines can guarantee.
In conclusion, Meditation is a fantastic tool we can use to help our body in protecting itself and in healing more rapidly so, if you wanna prevent a cold strengthening your defenses, Meditation can be a good option…by the way, if you already have a flu, please, also take your drugs!!!🤧🤒💊

ŚĀNTI ŚĀNTI ŚĀNTI.

Bibliography

1 [Davidson, Richard J. PhD; Kabat‐Zinn, Jon PhD; Schumacher, Jessica MS; Rosenkranz, Melissa BA; Muller, Daniel MD, PhD; Santorelli, Saki F. EdD; Urbanowski, Ferris MA; Harrington, Anne PhD; Bonus, Katherine MA; Sheridan, John F. PhD. Psychosomatic Medicine: July 2003 – Volume 65 – Issue 4 – p 564–570]

2 [Michael P. Collins and Lucia F. Dunn. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. May 2005, 11(2): 275-284]

3 [Douglas N. Taylor, Psychological reports, April 1, 1995]

4 [Michael H. Antoni, Ph.D., Dean G. Cruess, Ph.D., Nancy Klimas, M.D., Kevin Maher, Ph.D., Stacy Cruess, Ph.D., Mahendra Kumar, Ph.D., Susan Lutgendorf, Ph.D., Gail Ironson, M.D., Ph.D., Neil Schneiderman, Ph.D., and Mary Ann Fletcher, Ph.D. The American Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 159, Issue 1, January 2002, pp. 143-145]

 

The practice of the body, the practice of the mind.

2017-10-02 17.24.45“Yoga is 99% practice, 1% theory”.
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

Many times I’ve been reflecting about this sentence of the master who codified the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and I’m pretty sure that he didn’t mean that Yoga is basically physical; on the contrary I believe that one of the things he wanted to say is that a Yogi is not just practicing while performing an Asana  or a Pranayama but in every single moment of his/her life.
So, the first question is: what does “practice” mean?
It means to be aware.
Perfect! But…just a minute…aware of what??

In the Kaṭha Upaniṣad it’s written that after the “adhyātma yoga” (Yoga of Self-Knowledge) the practicing can abandon the pleasure and the pain because he/she has admired the God living in his/her heart. So what we have to be aware of is our perfect and divine nature. We should embrace and respect it and be conscious of it in every moment of our life.
My “perfect nature” my “divine nature” is something that is always with me, is actually the real essence of mine as when I’m doing an Asana as when I’m walking, talking, studying or eating an ice-cream.
Considering that, it’s not very immediate to understand why is actually easier to be “aware” while performing Asanas then while smiling, scratching or other natural and instinctual movements.

To make it easier we should consider that the elaboration carried out by the motor system starts with an internal representation of the results we wanna achieve while the final result of the elaboration of sensory informations is the internal representation of the external world. That means that when we are preparing to do an Asana we already have internalized the idea of the Asana itself so we also have the time to elaborate the sense of the practice we are going to perform but when we are receiving stimuli from the outside we are so used to those perceptions that we don’t focus on the meaning of them; saying it philosophically we could say that we are not able to project the macrocosm into our microcosm; or, at least, so it is unless we keep practicing for all the time.

ŚĀNTI ŚĀNTI ŚĀNTI.

“Exercises are like prose, whereas yoga is the poetry of movements. Once you understand the grammar of yoga; you can write your poetry of movements.”

Amit Ray  -Yoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Life Style-