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March 28 & 30 Restore

The Art of Letting Go

I fancy myself an artist, any type of medium will do from the canvas, a piece of clay, photography, cooking, voice or beating my drum.  But there is one art that I have a difficult time envisioning me doing - and that is Letting Go.

Artists may be born with natural talent but they must practice to hone their craft.  In letting go, we are also born with the innate ability to let go but then we are carved, splattered, and initiated in the world around us and subsequently, lose our born ability to let go. As a baby, we are hungry, we cry, we get fed, we move on... We don't dwell on the slowness of our mothers or fathers feeding us.  Or another example, the game of Peek-a-boo. Babies completely forget that the person is there when the hands cover the face of that person and then voila!  - there they are again.  The ultimate example of impermanence or letting go moment by moment.  When we understand these concepts, we can begin to detach from our preconceptions, thoughts, history, anger, angst, and all the things that tether us to suffering (dukkha).  Moment by moment, we change because of our past, our thoughts, and our actions but the freedom is not taking them along like baggage. 

Read on about the Buddhist concept of impermanence which includes a comparison with the Hindu concept.  Maybe take up your brush, sculptors knife or pen, and practice your Art of Letting Go.

The Buddhist Concept of Impermanence


Early Buddhism dealt with the problem of impermanence in a very rationale manner. This concept is known as anicca in Buddhism, according to which, impermanence is an undeniable and inescapable fact of human existence from which nothing that belongs to this earth is ever free. 

Buddhism declares that there are five processes on which no human being has control and which none can ever change. These five processes are namely, the process of growing old, of not falling sick, of dying, of decay of things that are perishable and of the passing away of that which is liable to pass. Buddhism however suggests that escape from these is possible and it's through Nirvana.

Hinduism also believes in the impermanent nature of life. But it deals with this problem differently. According to Hinduism, impermanence can be overcome by locating and uniting with the center of permanence that exists within oneself. This center is the Soul or the self that is immortal, permanent and ever stable. 

According to Hinduism, Atman is the fundamental truth that exists in every being, while at the microcosmic level it is Brahman who is the fundamental and supreme truth of all existence. He who realizes Atman verily becomes Brahman and attains immortality.

The Buddha differed radically with this most fundamental concept of Hinduism and in line with his preaching the early Buddhists did not believe in the existence of a permanent and fixed reality which could be referred to as either God or soul. According to them what was apparent and verifiable about our existence was the continuous change it undergoes.

Thus early Buddhism declares that in this world there is nothing that is fixed and permanent. Every thing is subject to change and alteration. "Decay is inherent in all component things," declared the Buddha and his followers accepted that existence was a flux, and a continuous becoming.

According to the teachings of the Buddha, life is comparable to a river. It is a progressive moment, a successive series of different moments, joining  together to give the impression of one continuous flow. It moves from cause to cause, effect to effect, one point to another, one state of existence to another, giving an outward impression that it is one continuous and unified movement, where as in reality it is not. The river of yesterday is not the same as the river of today. The river of this moment is not going to be the same as the river of the next moment. So does life. It changes continuously, becomes something or the other from moment to moment.

Take for example the life of an individual. It is a fallacy to believe that a person would remain the same person during his entire life time. He changes every moment. He actually lives and dies but for a moment, or lives and dies moment by moment, as each moment leads to the next. A person is what he is in the context of the time in which he exists. It is an illusion to believe that the person you have seen just now is the same as the person you are just now seeing or the person whom you are seeing now will be the same as the person you will see after a few moments. 

Even from a scientific point of view this is true. We know cell divisions take place in each living being continuously. Old cells in our bodies die and yield place continuously to the new ones that are forming. Like the waves in a sea, every moment, many thoughts arise and die in each individual . Psychologically and physically he is never the same all the time. Technically speaking, no individual is ever composed of the same amount of energy. Mental stuff and cellular material all the time. He is subject to change and the change is a continuous movement.

Impermanence and change are thus the undeniable truths of our existence. What is real is the existing moment, the present that is a product of the past, or a result of the previous causes and actions. Because of ignorance, an ordinary mind conceives them all to be part of one continuous reality. But in truth they are not.

The various stages in the life of a man, the childhood, the adulthood, the old age are not the same at any given time. The child is not the same when he grows up and becomes a young man, nor when the latter turns into an old man. The seed is not the tree, though it produces the tree, and the fruit is also not the tree, though it is produced by the tree.

The concept of impermanence and continuous becoming is central to early Buddhist teachings. It is by becoming aware of it, by observing it and by understanding it, one can find a suitable remedy for the sorrow of human life and achieve liberation from the process of anicca or impermanence.
from - www.hinduwebsite.com

The Breath

Humming (Brahmari) or Buzzing Bee Breath
Benefits:
  • Excellent for speeding up the healing of body tissues
  • Alleviates stress and tension, anger, anxiety, asthma, insomnia, and high blood pressure
  • Strengthens the voice and relieves thyroid ailments
  • Benefits are enhanced when practiced after Nadi Shodhana
  • Balance air and ether, especially in the vata Fall season (Ayurvedic)
How To: 

  1. Sit comfortably, with lips closed and teeth slightly opened. Make sure the jaw is relaxed.
  2. Raise the arms to the sides, bend the elbows, and bring the hands to the ears, plugging the ears with the index or middle fingers.
  3. Bring the awareness to the center of the head (ajna chakra) and keep the body still.
  4. Inhale through the nose, and while exhaling make a deep, steady humming sound like a bee for the duration of the exhale.
  5. Then, while inhaling, contract the throat to produce a humming sound on inhalation (if this sound is difficult to make at first, focus only on producing the sound while exhaling).
  6. Practice 5 rounds, ending with a humming exhale.
The Poses

Childs Pose
Props: bolster,  2-3 blankets
Benefits: Gently stretches the lower back, relieves shoulder tension and quiets the mind.  Give a sense of security. Feeling support and release.
Extras:sandbag for sacrum


Place bolster in front of you and a blanket on your lap with one end folded over. Before folding into the shape of childs pose, inhale to lengthen the spine. Rest your forehead on the bolster with space to breathe easily. Adjust blanket if it is too confining.  If you feel tension in the ankles or behind the knees, add another blanket.  Stay for up to 5 minutes. 

Crocodile (or Alligator) Pose

Lay face down on your mat, legs stretched out behind you and slightly wider.  Place your hands under your forehead, stacking them on top of each other. Rest your forehead on the hands.  Rest here letting the bones sink down into the floor and the pelvis widen. Tune into the rhythm of your breath and the way the breath moves up and down.  5 minutes to ground yourself.

Wide Angle Forward Fold

Props: bolster, two blocks, at least 2-3 blankets, neck roll
Benefits: decompression, good pose for transitioning from your day, stretches the hanstrings, spine, regulates the breathing pattern, good for digestion, create inner focus and awareness.





Place two blocks at height to accommodate you as you lean over bolster, place bolster on top vertically with a blanket or neck roll to support your forehead.  Sit at edge of blanket on the floor and if your knees need more support, roll up to blankets to place under the knees.  Lengthen the spine on an inhale and lean slowly over the bolster support bringing hands to legs, floor or even placing them on the bolster.  Stay with even rhythmic breath for 10 minutes of release.  Additional grounding if needed, add a rolled up blanket to lower back.


Reclined Goddess
Props: 2 blocks, 2 blankets, neck roll
Benefits: opens the hips and groin facilitating blood and energy flow to the urinary tract and reproductive organs. Opens the chest and abdomen benefiting breathing problems. Shoulders release their tension. 



Bring blocks to lowest height, place rolled up blanket on top of blocks, smooth any wrinkles.  Two longer blankets folded in half go lengthwise on mat. Fold top blanket down for head pillow.  Sit between blocks and long blankets and put legs over blocks, soles of the feet together.

Nesting Pose
Props: blankets, bolster
Benefits; Nurturing, sense of security, well-supported pose to regulate the nervous system, good for when you are feeling anxious, keeps body in alignment, supportive for the spine, hips, shoulders, head.  Allows for optimal healing and sleeping position. nurturing, sense of security, optimal for sleeping



Create a big enough folded blanket to place between the knees to align the legs in Tadasana. Add a folded blanket to rest your top arm on. Recline on a side that is comfortable, resting your head on a blanket. A neck roll can go under the ankles for support.  Bolster can rest along spine for further support and grounding. Finally, cover yourself with a blanket from head to toes.  Sink down with each long exhalation.  Mantra to accompany pose "I am safe, I am supported".


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Supported Forward Fold with Legs Extended (Paschimottasana)
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