Monday, April 12, 2021

DeMello: The Four Steps to Wisdom

The first thing you need to do is get in touch with negative feelings that you’re not even aware of.

What negative feelings? 

Gloominess, for instance. You’re feeling gloomy and moody. You feel self-hatred or guilt. You feel that life is pointless, that it makes no sense; you’ve got hurt feelings, you’re feeling nervous and tense. Get in touch with those feelings first.


The second step is to understand that the feeling is in you, not in reality.

Negative feelings are in you, not in reality. So stop trying to change reality. Stop trying to change the other person. We spend all our time and energy trying to change external circumstances, trying to change our spouses, our bosses, our friends, our enemies, and everybody else. We don’t have to change anything. No person on earth has the power to make you unhappy. There is no event on earth that has the power to disturb you or hurt you. No event, condition, situation or person. 

We always want someone else to change so that we will feel good. But has it ever struck you that even if you wife changes or your husband changes, what does that do to you? You're just vulnerable as before; you're just as idiotic as before; you're just as asleep as before. You are the one who needs to change, who needs to take medicine. You keep insisting, "I feel good because the world is right" Wrong! The world is right because I feel good. That's what all the mystics are saying.

Reality is not problematic. Problems exist only in the human mind. Take away human beings from the planet and life would go on, nature would go on in all its loveliness and violence. Where would the problem be? No problem. You created the problem. You are the problem. The feeling is in you, not in reality.


The third step: Never identify with the negative feeling. It has nothing to do with the 'I'. Don’t define your essential self in terms of that feeling. Don’t say, “I am depressed.” If you want to say my experience is depression or depression is there, that’s fine; if you want to say gloominess is there, that’s fine. But not: I am gloomy. You’re defining yourself in terms of the feeling. That’s your illusion; that’s your mistake.

Everything passes, everything. Your depressions and your thrills have nothing to do with happiness. Those are the swings of the pendulum.


You do not belong anywhere: You don't need to belong to anybody or anything or any group. You don't even need to be in love. Who told you you do? What you need is to be free. What you need is to love. That's it; that's your nature. But what you're really telling me is that you want to be desired. You want to be applauded, to be attractive, to have all the little monkeys running after you. You're wasting your life. WAKE UP! You don't need this. You can be blissfully happy without it.


No event justifies a negative feeling. There is no situation in the world that justifies a negative feeling. The negative feeling is in you. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna, "Plunge into the heat of battle and keep your heart at the lotus feet of the Lord". 

You don't have to do anything to acquire happiness. The great Meister Eckhart said very beautifully, "God is not attained by a process of addition to anything in the soul, but by a process of subtraction". You don't do anything to be free, you drop something. Then you're free.


The fourth step is: to keep going. If you try these three steps, you will get it. You might not need to do it even three times or you might need to do it a thousand times; there’s no rule for it. 

Do it as much as it takes and you’ll make the biggest discovery in your life.

Bhramari Pranayama (humming bee breath)

Technique 1 



Sit in a comfortable meditation asana, preferably padmasana or siddha/siddha yoni asana with the hands resting on the knees in jnana or chin mudra. 

Close the eyes and relax the whole body. 

The lips should remain gently closed with the teeth slightly separated throughout the practice. This allows the sound vibration to be heard and felt more distinctly.

Raise the arms sideways and bend the elbows, bringing the hands to the ears. Use the index or middle fingers to plug the ears or the flaps of the ears may be pressed without inserting the fingers. 

Bring the awareness to the centre of the head, where ajna chakra is located, and keep the body absolutely still. 

Inhale through the nose. 

Exhale slowly and in a controlled manner while making a deep, steady humming sound like that of the black bee. 

The humming should be smooth, even and continuous for the duration of the exhalation. 

The sound should be soft and mellow, making the front of the skull reverberate. 

At the end of exhalation, the hands can be kept steady or returned to the knee and then raised again for the next round. 

The inhalation and exhalation should be smooth and controlled. This is one round.

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama - 4

Technique 4: Antar and Bahir Kumbhaka (internal and external retention) 

In this technique bahir kumbhaka or outer breath retention is introduced. Do not try to hold the breath outside for long at first, even though it may seem easy.

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama - 3

Technique 3: with Antar Kumbhaka (inner retention) 

In this technique antar kumbhaka or internal breath retention is introduced. The inhalation and exhalation should be silent, smooth and controlled. 


Stage 1

Begin with equal inhalation, inner retention and exhalation, using the ratio 1:1:1.

Close the right nostril and inhale slowly through the left nostril for a count of 5. 

At the end of inhalation, close both nostrils and retain the air in the lungs for a count of 5. 

Open the right nostril and exhale for a count of 5. 

At the end of exhalation, inhale through the right nostril for a count of 5, keeping the left nostril closed. 

Again, retain the breath for a count of 5 with both nostrils closed. 

Open the left nostril and exhale for a count of 5. 

This is one round using the ratio 5:5:5. 

Maintain constant awareness of the count and of the breath. 

Practise up to 10 rounds. 

Extension: After becoming comfortable with the count of 5:5:5, the breath and kumbhaka can be lengthened. Gradually increase the count by adding 1 unit to the inhalation, 1 unit to the retention and 1 unit to the exhalation. The count of one round will then be 6:6:6. 

When this has been perfected and there is no discomfort, increase the count to 7:7:7. 

Continue in this way until the count of 10:10:10 is reached. 

Do not force the breath. At the slightest sign of strain reduce the count. 


Stage 2

After perfecting the ratio of 1:1:1, increase the ratio to 1:1:2. 

Initially use a short count. Inhale for a count of 5, perform internal kumbhaka for a count of 5 and exhale for a count of 10. 

Extension

After mastering the count of 5:5:10, gradually increase the count by adding one unit to the inhalation, one unit to the retention and two units to the exhalation. 

The count of one round will then be 6:6:12. When this has been perfected and there is no discomfort, increase the count to 7:7:14. 

Gradually increase the count over several months of practice until the count of 10:10:20 is reached. 


Stage 3

Change the ratio to 1:2:2. 

Inhale for a count of 5, do internal kumbhaka for a count of 10 and exhale for a count of 10. 

Practise until the ratio is comfortable and there is no tendency to speed up the count during retention or exhalation due to shortness of breath. 

Extension: When this has been perfected, the count can be gradually increased by adding 1 unit to the inhalation, 2 units to the retention and 2 units to the exhalation. 

The count of one round will then be 6:12:12. 

In this manner, gradually increase the count to 10:20:20. 


Stage 4

The next ratio, 1:3:2, is intermediary. 

First reduce the count, inhale for a count of 5, do internal kumbhaka for a count of 15 and exhale for a count of 10. 

Practise until the ratio is comfortable and there is no tendency to speed up the count during retention or exhalation due to shortness of breath. 

Extension

When this has been perfected and there is no discomfort, the count can be gradually increased by adding 1 unit to the inhalation, 3 units to the retention and 2 units to the exhalation. 

The count of one round will then be 6:18:12. 

In this manner, gradually increase the count to 10:30:20. 


Stage 5: 

The final ratio is 1:4:2. 

Begin with 5:20:10. Once the ratio has been established, the count can gradually increase. 

Extension

Add 1 unit to the inhalation, 4 units to the retention and 2 units to the exhalation.

The count of one round will then be 6:24:12. 

In this manner, gradually increase the count to 10:40:20. 


Contra-indications

Technique 3 is not suitable for women in the later half of pregnancy. 

It is not recommended for people with heart problems, high blood pressure, emphysema or any major disorders. 

Stage 2 is not recommended for asthmatics. 


Benefits

The inner retention of breath, which characterizes technique 3, activates various brain centres and harmonizes the pranas. 

The benefits increase with the progression of the ratios. The ratio 1:4:2 is most widely recommended in the yogic texts. It gives profound psychological and pranic effects and is used as a preparation for kundalini awakening.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama - 2

Technique 2: Alternate nostril breathing 

In this technique the basic pattern of alternate nostril breathing is established. 


Stage 1

Begin with equal inhalation and exhalation, using the ratio 1:1. 

Close the right nostril with the thumb and inhale through the left nostril. 

At the same time count mentally, “1, Om; 2, Om; 3, Om”, until the inhalation ends comfortably. This is the basic count. 

Breathe deeply without strain. 

Close the left nostril with the ring finger and release the pressure of the thumb on the right nostril. While exhaling through the right nostril, simultaneously count, “1, Om; 2, Om; 3, Om”. The time for inhalation and exhalation should be equal. 

Next, inhale through the right nostril, keeping the same count in the same manner. 

At the end of inhalation, close the right nostril and open the left nostril. 

Exhale through the left nostril, counting as before. 

This is one round. 

Practise 5 to10 rounds. 


Extension

After one week, if there is no difficulty, increase the length of inhalation and exhalation by one count. 

Continue to increase the count in this way until the count of 10:10 is reached. 

Do not force the breath in any way. 

Be careful not to speed up the counting during exhalation to compensate for shortage of breath. 

Reduce the count at the slightest sign of discomfort. 


Stage 2

After perfecting the above 1:1 ratio, it may be changed to 1:2. 

Initially halve the length of the inhalation. Inhale for a count of 5 and exhale for a count of 10. 

Repeat on the other side. 

This is one round. 

Practise 5 to10 rounds. 

Extension

During the ensuing months of practice, continue extending the breath by adding one count to the inhalation and two to the exhalation, up to the count of 10: 20. 

When this technique can be performed with complete ease, move on to technique 3. 


Contra-indications

Stage 2 of technique 2 begins the process of introversion, which is not recommended for a depressed or withdrawn person. The extension of stage 2, involving longer counts, is not recommended for people with heart problems. 


Benefits

Technique 2 gives more pronounced balancing of the breath and the brain hemispheres. It has calming effects and relieves anxiety, improves concentration and stimulates ajna chakra. 

The ratio 1:1 in stage 1 establishes a calming rhythm for the brain and heart, assisting people with cardiovascular and nervous disorders specifically, and stress-related conditions generally. 

As the count is extended, the breath slows down. The respiration becomes more efficient because the air flow is smoother and less turbulent. This ratio helps people with respiratory problems such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis. 

The ratio 1:2 in stage 2 gives profound relaxation. The heartbeat and pulse rate slow, and blood pressure drops, but the extension of count should be built up slowly.

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama - 1

Technique 1: Preparatory practice 


Stage 1

Sit in any comfortable meditation posture, preferably siddha/siddha yoni asana or padmasana. 

Keep the head and spine upright. 

Relax the whole body and close the eyes. 

Practise yogic breathing for some time. 

Adopt nasagra mudra with the right hand and place the left hand on the knee in chin or jnana mudra. 

Close the right nostril with the thumb. 

Inhale and exhale through the left nostril 5 times. 

The rate of inhalation and exhalation should be normal. Be aware of each breath. 

After completing 5 breaths, release the pressure of the thumb on the right nostril and press the left nostril with the ring finger, blocking the flow of air. 

Inhale and exhale through the right nostril 5 times, keeping the respiration rate normal. 

Lower the hand and breathe 5 times through both nostrils together. 

This is one round. Practise 5 rounds or for 3 to 5 minutes, making sure that there is no sound as the air passes through the nostrils. 

Practise until this stage is mastered before commencing the next stage. 


Stage 2:

Begin to control the duration of each breath. 

Count the length of the inhalation and exhalation through the left, right and both nostrils. Breathe deeply without strain. 

While inhaling, count mentally, “1, Om; 2, Om; 3, Om”, until the inhalation ends comfortably. 

While exhaling, simultaneously count, “1, Om; 2, Om; 3, Om”. Inhalation and exhalation should be equal. 

Practise 5 rounds or for 3 to 5 minutes, making sure that there is no sound as the air passes through the nostrils. 


Extension

Notice that the length of the breath will spontaneously increase after some days of practice. 

When the count reaches 10 without any strain, go on to technique 2. 

Contra-indications: Nadi shodhana is not to be practised while suffering from colds, flu or fever. 

Benefits: Technique 1 increases awareness of and sensitivity to the breath in the nostrils. Minor blockages are removed and the flow of breath in both nostrils becomes more balanced. Breathing through the left nostril tends to activate the right brain hemisphere; breathing through the right nostril activates the left hemisphere. The long, slow, balanced breathing of stage 2 has profound effects, calming and balancing the energies. 

Practice note: Both nostrils must be clear and flowing freely. Mucous blockages may be removed through the practice of neti. If the flow of breath in the nostrils is unequal, it may be balanced by practising padadhirasana as a breath balancing technique (see Vajrasana Group of Asanas). Beginners should be familiar with abdominal breathing before taking up nadi shodhana.

Nasagra Mudra (nosetip position)



Hold the fingers of the right hand in front of the face. Rest the index and middle fingers gently on the eyebrow centre. Both fingers should be relaxed. The thumb is above the right nostril and the ring finger above the left. These two digits control the flow of breath in the nostrils by alternately pressing on one nostril, blocking the flow of breath, and then the other. The little finger is comfortably folded. When practising for long periods, the elbow may be supported in the palm of the left hand, although care is needed to prevent chest restriction.