0fKBhvDjuy0 WE ARE MERELY PARTICLES OF MATTER THAT ARE SELF AWARE...
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
After a Sunday of allowing myself the brief indulgence of wallowing in my perceived afflictions, I stumbled upon a special on a Discovery Channel special: Did God Create the Universe? I've always been a philosophy junkie so I was hooked immediately. The argument presented by Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant scientific minds of our century, goes something like this: The law of gravity was the catalyst for the Big Bang Theory; the Big Bang literally spawned something out of nothing; therefore spontaneous creation is the reason that something, rather than nothing exists, that is why we exist. If this is indeed the case, there is no need to invoke the notion of a Divine Creator. Pretty radical stuff!
Over the centuries human beings have been able to utilize the laws of nature to make mind blowing discoveries like learning that the Earth actually orbits the Sun and not the other way around. The laws of nature are observable and tangible phenomena that create the fundamental reality of our existence; a reality studied tenaciously by scientists in hopes of one day understanding it fully. The fact that other planetary bodies have been found orbiting stars other than our own sun also make "coincidences of our planetary conditions – the single sun, the lucky combination of Earth-sun distance and solar mass – far less remarkable." The Big Bang Theory marks the beginning of time in the history of our universe and if Hawking is correct, a God could not have created the universe because there would be no time reference for the universe to be created in. This theory simultaneously shreds the possibility of an afterlife. The manifestation of our physical existence is it. Are you grateful? Are you sad? Are you angry? What if this is all she wrote folks?
Monday, 08 August 2011
Wednesday, 03 August 2011
When I was in college I was your typical Type-A sorority girl who attended all her classes, studied really hard and actually wanted to understand what I was learning rather than just memorizing and regurgitating it like money. Like a dry sponge, I thirsted for all the information thrown at me to soak into my brain. A never-ending need to ask the question "why" resulted in many circular conversations over dozens of cigarettes with fellow philosophy scholars.
The perpetual quest for understanding why things are the way they are stalked me into my adult life. After studying and teaching yoga for several years I began noticing I actually do understand much more than I credit myself for. Is this self-realization? If it is, do we stop the quest once we feel content? Perhaps this newfound wisdom is a result of aggregated experiences and the mere fact of growing more refined (not older).
Friday, 29 July 2011
I was passively watching TV the other night with my dad and when a story on Real Sports with Bryant Gumble came on that absolutely captivated me. Ashrita Furman, a.k.a. Mr. Versatility is a 56-year-old health foods store manager from NYC. Ok, that seems pretty normal; however, this 56-year-old stud also holds the record for breaking the most Guinness records! This self-proclaimed "non-athlete" performs the most outrageous feats in the most exotic of locales. A few examples of Furman's record breaking stunts include running five miles on stilts in the fastest time, a record that had stood since 1892; walking 80 miles with a milk bottle balanced on his head; performing 9,628 sit-ups in an hour; and Furman's greatest challenge was performing forward rolls for the entire 12-mile length of Paul Revere's ride in Massachusetts. Pretty ridiculous eh??
What captivated my attention about Furman's story wasn't the fancy record breaking stunts he performs, rather it was his sincerity and honesty about why he does what he does. Firstly, Furman doesn't do it for the money. He receives no monetary compensation for performing these outrageous feats, nor does he want to. About 30 years ago Furman was introduced to Transcendental Meditation (see my post on TM) by an Indian guru named Sri Chinmoy. The name Ashrita was given to Furman by his guru, which translates to "protected by God" in Sanskrit. Furman truly believes he is protected by a Divine Spirit that sees him through his superhuman stunts. Part of the philosophy behind transcendental meditation is "enlightenment through extreme physical activity." Furman's first test as a disciple was a 24-hour bike race when he was a young man, which sounds utterly daunting and impossible! However, Furman tells us in his interview with Bryant Gumble that he employed his new-found meditation techniques like chanting and visualizations and before he knew it the race was over and he completed 405 miles and tied for 3rd Place! As an awkward high school student, Furman was bullied regularly, but as soon as he discovered the gem of TM, his life changed dramatically. Furman dropped out of Columbia University to pursue a new life under the new name bestowed upon him: Ashrita. Ashrita credits his guru for his phenomenal endurance and agility to this day and asserts, "if one can be in touch with one's inner spirit, anything is possible." If this isn’t yoga, then I don’t know what is.
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
To meditate is to focus your attention on one thing. Contrary to popular belief, meditation isn’t some cryptic and esoteric task-taking place under a Bodhi Tree out in the wilderness. Meditation can happen anywhere at any time. A meditation practice strengthens our capacity for focused attention. Meditation is a tool to achieve clarity of thought and relief from life’s frustrations and stresses. To experience the benefits of mantra meditation it’s important to practice patience and non-judgment during each meditation session because the human mind, referred to as the monkey mind will undoubtedly wander aimlessly through its vast forests of thoughts and emotional responses. How many times throughout your day do you become sidetracked or distracted from your original intentions? The ability to place and maintain your attention where you choose to is both empowering and liberating.
Mantra meditations are words or phrases that are chanted verbally or mentally. Usually a mantra is prescribed to a student by a guru or teacher. Mantra can also be self-prescribed. For example, by choosing to mediate on the word "love" or "compassion" the mediator invites more love or compassion into their field of awareness and therefore into their life. The word or phrase is the object of meditation giving the mind something to focus on. You will notice your mind pulling your attention outwards, away from the mantra. Sounds in the immediate environment, sensations in your body and of course thoughts will enter and occupy the mind; yet instead of entertaining these distractions, allow them to enter your stream of consciousness and then choose to recommit to the mantra. You will notice these distractions will exit your stream of consciousness as quickly as they entered. With a consistent meditation mantra practice the physical world of distraction begins to gradually fade away and the only thing the meditator construes as reality is the spoken or mental mantra. Ultimately, after a long mantra meditation the mantra itself begins to dissolve until there is nothing but serene and expansive consciousness. No thoughts, no words, no judgment, just space.
YOGI TIDBIT TO TRY:
This mantra was given to me by Julian Walker, a true guru.
Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit. Close your eyes. Watch the quality of your breathing for a few cycles of breath. Remember that the breath is four-part with the inhalation, the pause after the inhalation, the exhalation and the pause after the exhalation. Begin verbally or mentally reciting the following mantra:
MAY I BE WELL. MAY I BE HAPPY AND SAFE. MAY I BE HEALTHY AND STRONG. MAY I BE FREE FROM SUFFERING AND THAT WHICH CAUSES ME TO SUFFER. MAY I BE WELL.
Begin by reciting this mantra five times. Then build up gradually. Practice this mantra anytime, especially in times when you feel self-doubt and self-conscious.
Tuesday, 26 July 2011