Another one of my old poems 🙂
addictions, Alternate nostril breathing, Anxierty, Art of Living, Brain, Breath, Breathing, Cortisol, Cravings, Depression, Emma Seppala, emotions, Happiness, health, Immunity, Mind, optimism, Pain, Pranayama, Sleep, social, Stress, Stress hormone, Trauma
I saw this beautiful poster on Emma Seppala’s website. Thought of sharing it with my readers. Here is her website – http://www.emmaseppala.com/
Do you know which direction you keep your head when you sleep? If you don’t know, then you must! Sleep is one of the most important part of your daily activities that you do. The direction where you place your head plays a big part in maintaining a good health and being successful overall. It also influences your character, mind and hence thinking process. Also your relationship with other people! This has been explained in detail in the Vaastu Shashtra. I read somewhere that approximately 90% of the people do sleep in wrong way or direction. We do work for all day and our muscles get tired and lot of energy is used for all day working. To recharge the body again or to give rest to the muscles we need to take rest in the form of sleep. Sleep deprivation causes many diseases in our body. We will deal with one of the main aspect of sleeping right – the right direction to keep your head!
There is a Tamil proverb going thus – “Vaaraatha vaazhvu vanthaalum vadakke thalai vekkakudaathu“. Which means – “Even if one gets good fortune, one should not sleep with head in the north direction“. There are many such proverbs in many cultures about what is the right direction to keep the head. Event the Mahabharataha says – “Men become wise sleeping in the eastern or southern directions“. There is a direction for everything in the Indian culture and good reasons too! The physicians, at least Ayurvedic ones, make their patients sit facing east before diagnosis and give them medicines. There is a direction for brides and grooms to be seated in the marriage. Corpses are placed with their head in the south direction. So there is a direction for everything!
Coming back to sleeping, the recommended direction is placing the head in the east or south direction. The reason for the southern direction is because of the magnetic property of the earth and human body. The earth we are in is subjected to all kinds of energies from the sun going from east to west. By this, earth is magnetized with the north pole becoming the north pole or a magnet and south pole being the south. Since our human body is also a magnet – our head is the north and feet being the south, when we place our head in the north direction, then we the opposite poles repel each other thus destroying the natural polarity of the body. This natural polarity of the human body is key to happiness and health. The body is hale and healthy if the natural polarity that we acquire during the day is preserved in the night. That is the reason our elders warned us from keeping our head in the north! On placing it in the south, there is attraction between the earth poles and our parts of the body. Thus the polarity of the body is still intact.
There are special instructions given to married couples, single person, head of the house hold ,etc. on which direction to sleep. Here is one interesting one – Married couples are better off keeping their heads in the southern direction because it increases the attraction between them :)! It helps one to have positive thinking and sincerity in behavior. Not only this, South direction enhances one’s self confidence and leadership qualities. You can read more on the source links i provided below.
As for the eastern direction, the current of electricity passes over the earth from east to west. When the current passes from one body to another body then it influences the body that it enters and leaves inflammation in the body which it leaves. When we place the head in the west and feet in east, then the current passing through feet and leaving the head leaves inflammation in the head. Which means we get up with a headache which affects how we function. Having the head in the east is more auspicious and conducive for better thinking.
Regarding the positions of sleeping, there are two positions that are recommended – The first position is sleep turning left side (baal aasana) and the second position is sleep straight (shava aasana).When wake up in the morning first turn right and then get up from the bed. In both the above positions our spine will remain straight and we will never have a health problem if we sleep in the above two positions.
So BOTTOM LINE is – Dont keep your head in north or west and get up in morning turning to the right side.
[Courtesy : http://www.healthnaturaltips.com/2012/10/what-are-right-position-to-sleep-well.html, http://queenofsleep.wordpress.com/2010/10/23/feng-shui-is-your-bed-positioned-facing-the-right-direction%5D
A Friend of mine forwarded this about the entropy levels at the Art of Living ashram or any spiritual place in general. I have heard of entropy only in thermodynamics. Never expected it to be used to determine the level of disorder in the universe! That is interesting. In simple words, the level of entropy simple tells the level of disorder or confusion or chaos that is there in the energy system. The higher the level of entropy the more the chaos is and lower the entropy the more harmonious it is. So here is a question that is asked by a devotee during satsang (gathering together to uplift each other spiritually by singing, dancing, listening to knowledge, etc) to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his answer is amazing.
Q: Gurudev, for the first time, scientists have been able to capture and record sounds from the depths of the Universe. Those sounds resemble that of the birds chirping at dawn, and they are mixed with the sounds from the Sun. It all seems very astonishing and fascinating. Please tell us what secret this is.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Nature is a gold mine of such secrets. So many kinds of secrets lay hidden in the lap of Mother Nature.
A great scientist had visited the Ashram(Art of Living’s International Ashram in Bangalore) just day before yesterday. He brought a titanium radar along with him to measure the energy of the Ashram. He told me that the readings in the city were around 3.5 for the entropy (a scientific term signifying the degree of disorder or random movement of particles or objects in space). When he came to the Ashram, the reading fell to 0.5 (indicating a peaceful and stable environment). He also found that at the time of Satsang and the Purnaahuti (the peak moment of final offering to the sacrificial fire of a ritual), the reading fell to zero for a few moments! A zero reading means coming into contact, or being completely in the presence of God!
He told me that he had never witnessed such a thing before in his whole life. He said that the radar showed Zero entropy at those times. He was very fascinated with this. He conducted a thorough scientific study with the titanium radar for one whole hour. He said that the atmosphere of the Ashram is so peaceful and has such positive vibrations. He said that there is so much harmony here because the entropy readings are so low (higher entropy values correspond to more chaos and disorderly wave vibrations in the environment). He said that where the entropy is less, there is more orderliness and harmony. He said that in the city, the entropy value is 3.5.
In the same way, scientists today are able to determine where there is a greater presence of Divinity (positive vibrations and harmony). We anyway experience this when we are here. I have heard many people tell me that the moment they step foot in the Ashram, their entire state of mind becomes so positive. How many people have had this experience? (Many in the audience raise hands)
So, Nature is very mysterious!
So the next time you want to be more peaceful, calmer and more harmonious with your self and nature – you know where to go!
Even though the Mahabharata symbolism series of posts has generated a lot of interest from the readers, I promise this is the last post in it :). I have surely enjoyed researching and writing this series of posts and I hope you readers have to. I would love to write on all the major events in the epic and how they are related to each one of us but it would take too long and most of them would be abstract. We saw the symbolism of Kauravas and Pandavas. Now that you guys have the picture, I wanted to bring a closure by taking your attention to some of the major events in the Mahabharata. With these
The Game of Dice – represents the Game of Delusion. In childhood, the senses, and the development of the body, are governed by the soul’s powers of discrimination. As youth approaches, the strong sense desires are awakened, by temptations in this life and Samskaras (habit tendencies) of past lives. The game is very charming, and the princely faculties of discrimination are enticed into a deceitful game with the sense desires, and man stakes his entire bodily kingdom. He is overpowered by them, and the pure discriminative intelligence of the soul is ousted from the throne, and sent into exile. The Pandavas are lured into the game by Duryodhana which is how the mind deludes its own energies into playing this whole game which we call life. Yudhisthira and the Pandavas lose the game and are banished from the kingdom and sent into exile for 12 years, with a further 1 year in total anonymity.
12 years of exile – A spiritual aspirant, who is armed with the grace of his Guru, and the knowledge of Kriya Yoga, and with all faculties intact, can with perseverance, evolve spiritually within twelve years, to the point where he can wage a battle with the senses to reclaim this body kingdom. This is a known fact to Spiritual aspirants. It is written in many yogic texts that a aspirant has intensely practice for 12 years before he can completely win over this senses which in turn control the mind. In the 12 years that the Pandavas are banished, they had to go through various events where they grow spiritually.
The One Year in Anonymity – refers to the period when the aspirant, having attained a lofty height of spiritual evolution, i.e., he has attained Yudhistira’s calmness, Bhima’s Pranayama, Arjuna’s nonattachment, Nakula’s adherence, and Sahadeva’s power to resist evil, he is now ready to immerse himself in states of Samadhi. In the state of Samadhi, the Sadhaka is withdrawn from the world, and all that is worldly, immersing him in states of consciousness. In the State of Samadhi, one’s consciousness is not in the material world, but in the supreme consciousness, hence, why the Pandavas were incognito, to the people around them.
Kurukshetra – the Land (field) of the Kurus, is the symbolic representation of the body. Kurukshetra is formed from the Sanskrit roots, kri meaning work, material action, and ksetra means field. So this Field of Action is the body, on which all activities of life, take place.
Bhagavad gita – In our inner conflict when we lose peace, it is the aspect of knowledge in us that is confused needs clarity. This aspect in us that seeks teaching represents Arjuna. As we already discussed Arjuna represents bondage it seeks freedom to attain the kingdom of Peace. It seeks Krishna the manifestation of pure Consciousness. We seek for clarity a teacher, a Guru. What we seek outside is already in us. The external teacher helps us to seek our internal teacher Krishna, the pure consciousness. The dialogue between the Krishna and Arjuna is Bhagavad Gita.
KRISHNA – Lastly, who is Krishna? Krishna the manifestation of pure Consciousness. Consciousness is the “being” of every form and formless in this universe. The reflection of that Consciousness is awareness. Krishna is the cousin and brother -in-law of Arjuna and interestingly Krishna is the father-in-law of Duryodhan’s daughter, that is , Krishna’s son married Duryodhan’s daughter Lakshmana. So Krishna is related to both the positive and negative groups of brothers. This is why Indian God’s are represented with three faces. The two faces on the sides represents the pair of opposites of the same body. Explains that both positive and negatives qualities resides in us. I can go on writing about Krishna.
So here are the symbolisms of the characters and events in Mahabharata. It is not just another long story that happened long time ago. It is happening right now right her within you. If you believe in these allegoric events, then read the Mahabharata again. Only this time see if you can relate to these characters for they lived and died(mortally) to relate to us.
Here is the introduction and the Part I for those who missed it. The previous post talked about the Kauravas and their symbolism. Lets talk about the pandavas now. Before we go there here is a primer on energy centers or chakras in our body that hold the secret to human existence according to the tantric philosophy.
Chakras are the energy centers in the body which are storehouses of spiritual energy. They vitalize the physical body replenishing all the parts of the body. They are 7 major chakras along the spinal cord. Each of these chakras are associated with particular emotions and spiritual progress. You might be wondering why are we talking on the chakras when we are supposed to talk about the Pandavas. Right? They are related. The pandavas represent the first 5 chakras in our body. You will understand when we deal with each of the pandavas. Here we go!
Pandu – the younger brother of Dhritarashtra represents wisdom. Which was represented by his white color. This wisdom matures with experience and hence gives the ruling power to the blind mind, until the children of wisdom are ready. His wife Kunti represents the power of dispassion while his second wife Maadri represents the attachment to dispassion. Pandu has got 5 sons, 3 sons with Kunti and 2 sons with Maadri. The sons of Pandu represents the 5 elements which in turn represents the 5 energy chakras in our spinal column.
Yudhistira – Yudhi means in the battle, sthira means tranquil or undisturbed. Yudhi-stra is the symbol of peace and the sky or ether element of Pancha Bhootas. Sky is the bridge of transcendence to the conscious state and represented as throat chakra(Vishuddhi chakra). Ether remains unchanged, and undisturbed by the violent plays of nature’s forces.
Bheema – is Prana, the Power of Vitality, the Air Element in the Dorsal Center, or Anahata Chakra. He is the son of the Vayu deva, the God of Wind. The aspiring Sadhaka, practices his Pranayama that is controlled by this center, thereby calming the breath and controlling the mind and all of its sense objects. The breath has got such a strength that it can destroy all tendencies of the mind. That is why Bheema kills the 100 sons of Dhritarashtara. The breath also brings the awareness of “oneness”. The ignorance of duality dissolves in the purity of “Love” and is represented as heart chakra(Anahata Chakra). Know more secrets of your breath in this article.
Arjuna – Arjuna the third represents fire element. Rajju means rope or bondage and na means no. This represents that we are really not bonded, but free. Arjuna represents the liberating thoughts in us and brings peace. Arjuna is the enquiring mind. The enquiring mind burns like fire and destroys the darkness of ignorance. This burning fire is what needs to be given direction and that is why out of the five brothers Arjuna was taught Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna represents the mastering the “Heat or Power” of senses symbolized as the navel chakra(Manipura Chakra). This center is for the purification of mind and body, making intense meditation possible.
Nakula, is Adherence, the Power to Obey Rules of Dharma, the Water Element in the Sacral Center, or Swadhishthana Chakra. Adherence to Dharmic principles, allows the Sadhaka to control mental tendencies.
Sahadeva, is Restraint, the Earth Element in the Coccyx Center, or Muladhara Chakra. He is the Power of Resistance by which restless outer sense organs can be controlled.
The structure of the spinal cord also shows a differentiation supporting the divisions of the three sons of Kunti, with the two sons of Madri. The spinal column extends to the level of the lumbar vertebrae, as one solid structure. From the lower lumbar to the coccyx, the spinal nerves with their ganglia, extend downwards like the tail of a horse, and has been named cauda equina (horses tail). It has the same origin, (as in having the same father) but are at the same time different. They are the location of the 2 sons of Madri. Also significant to the spiritual aspirant (Sadhaka), is the function of the first three chakras, versus the last two. The first three are important in the inner spiritual activities of the spiritual aspirant; the lower two, are important for the purification of his external activities.
Draupadi – You could have guessed the representation of Draupadi. She was the wife of all the five pandavas which means she stays with each of them for some time and moves on to the other. She represents the feminine kundalini energy which travels through the spinal column to all the chakras on her path. Kundalini , which is metamorphically represented as Draupadi , the five hooded (meaning the five elements ,energies ) Snake. She is the one who connects the individual soul to the universal soul.(the connecting cord between MAN and Paramathman)The fire that propels it is called KUNDALINI Shakthi. That is the reason she was born out of fire. Draupadi is thus wedded to the five elements which makes the MAN. Here is another titbit – It is said that Bheema(air) was the one who loved Draupadi the most. That is why breath is used to awake the rise the Kundalini inside you!
We can see that the Mahabharata is not just another grandeur story that happened long time ago. It is something that is happening right now. Inside us. Every moment we live, there is a mahabharata happening. In my next post, I will go over some of the incidents that happened in the mahabharata with their symbolism.
Two families. Five brothers against a Hundred. A story spanning four generations. Aerial attacks, Ufos, Aliens, Atomic bombs and many many more. That is just a part of the Mahabharata for you. If you have not had the chance the read it, here is the Mahabharata in 36 tweets for you.
The author of the epic used the real incident and weaved symbolic images to reflect our own inner conflicts. Using these images if we dive deep into our inner self, we will be able to appreciate the mystery of our own mind and life. Recently, I had a chance to read many versions of it with their story changed. Even though there were good efforts with good intentions, I felt that a lot of people haven’t explored the inner essence and symbolism of the characters, events, their interactions, etc. It is imperative to know the inner symbolism of the characters and its representation to grasp the immensity of Mahabharata. I have been wanting to write on it but had to do some research on it to get it right. So here is a write up of what the characters meant and why is it important to know this. To deal with all the characters at once would be over whelming. We will take a group of characters and few events in a series of posts. Lets deal with the Kauravas first.
Dhritarashtra – The blind king of Hastinapura represents the our mind. More than that – our blind mind. Without the intellect’s discriminating power. Hence the blindness. His wife Gandhari represents the intellect power. The intellect can see. However, when the intellect gets smitten with emotion it gets blinded too. This is indicated by Gandhari blinding herself after being married to Dhritarashtra. The result is devastation and destruction. The blind mind has got many desires and tendencies in it and is the abode of emotions and feelings.
Five are senses of knowledge or perception the eyes, nose, ears, tongue and skin (Gnanendriyas). The other five are the senses of action-mouth, hands, feet, genital organ and anus (Karmendriyas). There are 10 directions north, south, west, east, north east, south east, south west and northwest and up and down. When the mind and intellect run blindly in all 10 directions and functions through 10 sense organs , give rise to hundred desires, thoughts, ambitions, expectations and dreams. These are the children of the mind and symbolized as the 100 sons in Mahabharata.
Duryodhana – the first son. The main thought of the mind is always ‘I, me, Mine’. This is called the ego. So he represents the first and fore most thought of the mind – the EGO. The mind cant control the ego very easily. That is why Dhritarashtra couldn’t control Duryodahana and always swayed by his son’s wishes. ‘Duh‘ means difficult and ‘yodhana‘ means to fight. Ego is something that was difficult to fight against. It is the Ego feeling or “I” thought that craves and falls into addiction. All mental and physical problems stems from the “I” feeling. The “I” feeling instead of helping the body, ruthlessly rips off health of the body. “I” want to experience spicy taste no matter my stomach hurts and develop ulcers. “I” want to experience to “refresh” with coffee no matter if it dehydrates my body and make my body cells suffer in thirst. “I” want to experience dull-mindedness with alcohol no matter if it hurts my liver and all other body organs. I want to do something even though my doctor has asked me not to because I already booked it! (targeted remark). 🙂
The moment the Ego gets the mind to dance to its whims and tunes, the body is completely forgotten. That is why Dhritarashtra was caught completely in the whims of Duryadhana and gave in to most of his wants. As a king, he didnt listen to his subjects which represent the body. The blind mind always tries to give importance to its ego – Dhritarashtra wants his son to be crowned as the prince of the kingdom. Like this you can find so many instances of how the mind empowers the ego and the ego runs rampage in our mind. This is so beautifully portrayed in the mahabharata with various events. The next time you read the mahabhrata, see if you can relate to the same happening with in you.
Dhritarashtra had a son named Yuyutsu with a vaishya(worker) clan woman. Yuyutsu was always on the path of dharma even though he was with the Kauravas. He does defect to the Pandavas just before the war. Kind of an equal to Vibhishana of Ramayana. He represents the desire to give psychological battle to the bad things the mind comes up with but is not as powerful as the ego and desires. This shows the mind is capable of producing good thoughts but these are not strong enough. In my next post, I will bring out the Pandavas and many other events within the mahabharata and its significance.
[COURTESY : Discourses on Bhagavad Gita by Paramahamsa Prajnanananda, Bhagavad Gita by Eknath Eswaran and Symbolism of Mahabharata article]
[NOTE: this blog post is not to hurt anyone following any particular practice of yoga. This is plainly my perspective and view of what I think :)]
I was conversing with a friend and our talk took us to how our spiritual practices were faring. Deep into the conversation we started discussing the different types of yoga that we do and what is to be followed and practiced. Strangely, recently I have been coming across many people who follow a particular type of yoga and only that. For those dont know the different types of yoga – there are broadly classified into four types. (NOTE : The different yogas are very broadly classified and simply defined. Each of these yoga have deep spiritual significance in their own right. Yes, there are so many yogas – raja yoga, swara yoga, etc. I have just the four most followed yogas here).
- Jnana yoga – Yoga of Knowledge and Intelligence
- Bhakti yoga – Yoga of devotion
- Karma yoga – Yoga of selfless service
- Kriya yoga – Yoga dealing with energy
It might be due to the various teachings in the scripture and in the tradition of teaching that we stick to one particular path. This was taught probably because you don’t go around trying all different things and don’t get result anywhere. Though I get that, I believe that these are different but INCLUSIVE ways to reach the highest. Not exclusive. And as a seeker, we need to tap into all of these in order to get help and progress. You will notice that these different types of yoga are complementary to each other. This conversation reminded me of a story which I had heard from a Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and wanted to share it here.
There were four yogis walking together. They were Jnana yogi(one who follows the path of intelligence and knowledge), bhakti yogi(follows devotion), karma yogi(follows selfless service as path of yoga) and lastly a kriya yogi(one who follows a path that deals with rising up the energy). Usually all these four yogis, don’t stay together. The jnana yogi thinks all others are a fool. Especially those who go on singing the name of God. In his mind these acts are utter foolish. The bhakti yogis have pity for everyone. Because they think that when God is here, why do all these actions and what use is knowledge. Rather just take his hand and walk to him. So they have pity for others. The karma yogis think all these other people are lazy because when you want some thing to happen you should do it. Because they are lazy and unwilling to do they have invented all the other yogas. So they feel the others are lazy. Lastly, the kriya yogis have utter disdain for every body because for them the entire universe is because of energy and without transcending the energy, there is no possibility. Due to all these reasons, these four people don’t come together.
But today these four yogis were walking together when the rain storm hit them. They were running from getting wet when the bhakti yogi said that he knew a historic temple close by where they can take shelter. So they all go to this temple. The temple is a very old temple with just collapsed walls and just a few columns and a roof. In the center there was a deity of the God. They ran to this place not seeking God in love but to escape the rain. They stood in the temple in four corners. The rain started lashing in all directions and all the four yogis were getting drenched. The only place they could sit was around the deity in the center. They sat around the deity hugging and holding the deity and each other. Again not because out of love or seeking. Just to escape the rain.
Suddenly God came to them. In all their minds, there came the same question – “WHY NOW? We did so much yoga, did so many pooja(rituals), read so many scriptures(knowledge) and so many things. You didn’t come then. Why now?”. God said – “At last, you four idiots got together. That is why!”.
The idea here is unless your head(knowledge_, your heart(bhakti – devotion), hands & legs(that is needed for selfless action) and energy(kriya) get together and reach the peak together enlightenment will not dawn. These different yogas are different avenues to help us develop our selves and we need to tap into all of these to peak. So get to know all the types of yoga and enjoy each of them as much as the one you practice. You dont have master all of them but get to know them and practice them and check for yourself. They will only help you in different ways. So infuse all these different types of yoga in your practice and be more happy!
There are three different ways how people handle mistakes
1. Seeing one’s own mistake as small while others mistakes are big
2. Better than that is seeing one’s mistake as big as much as other’s mistake
3. The best way is seeing a mistake as a mistake alone. It is neither his nor mine.
– Sri Sri Ravi Shankar