Samadhi

SAMADHI

Dissolving into the state of oneness.

Samadhi

Samadhi

Samadhi is the experience we have when the mind realizes the totality of itself – that it is one part of an infinitely grander whole. Using an analogy from one of my teachers, Alan Finger – Consiousness is like the ocean. When the ocean swells and crashes upon the shore, drops of water fly up in the air. These drops are still the ocean separated by time and space. We are those drops in relationship to the bigger more expansive ocean of consciousness. For brief moments in time we arise and take shape in the form of this body, collecting unique experiences in our mind and forming beliefs and identity. In meditation, the mind has the opportunity to realize this and come back to the awareness of all that is. In those moments when the mind returns to the understanding that it is simply a drop that is apart of the ocean, there is a feeling of indescribable goodness that overwhelms our being, yogis call this Samadhi. 

How Do We Reach Samadhi?

Samadhi is the result of your Sadhana (yogic practices). For the past month, I have been offering you teachings out of the yoga sutras, weaving them through the live classes, and sharing them here on this blog. We’ve discussed  “Abhyasa and Vairagya” and “Burning Samskara” amongst many others. Why are these practices necessary to experiencing Samadhi? Samadhi is the state of being when the intellect or budhi lets go of duality and releases into the realization that it is one with all things. The intellect is incredible, it allows us to understand life on the physical plane, dividing, defining, and systematically looking for like and unlike in everything. The Intellect’s ability to separate is incredible. We have spent our entire lives training the intellect, and therefor have become really good at separation. Unity or Oneness requires that the intellect surrenders to the reality that it is one of many tools. This requires that our identity or ego also surrenders to the fullness of reality that we are yes unique individuals that are a part of the magnificent power of nature, not separate but yet a thread woven into the fabric of something much grander. The Ego gets scared of the idea that it is not most important, so you have to remind it that this means it is not less than, it is actually far more than it thinks, it is a manifestation of the vast ocean of Awareness.

Maybe you want to experience the state of oneness with the universe and are ready to jump in but where to start? The Yoga Sutras are a guide map to this, but if you are going to practice one thing only its Self Reflection, Swadyaya. You can practice Self Reflection in your asana (physical practice) by observing the sensations of your body before, during and after each posture. You can do this through Pranayama, observation of the vital energy that pulses through your system. There are endless practices of Self Awareness. Start with the live classes from the Month of March and join me for the asana and meditation practices throughout the month of April. I am committed to sharing dharma talks to inspire self awareness in order to support the dissolution of the intellect, and mergence into the state of oneness. We will be doing this together, with he support of the global community to give us power and strength. 

OneNess 

In a time when everyone is feeling separateness, moving inward to the state of oneness is more important than ever. Underneath the layers of intellect and ego that disconnects us from the whole, exists One undivided consciousness that permeates all things. It is always there, omnipresent, and it pervades all aspects of our being. The only thing standing in our way of experiencing it is the need to hold up the illusion that we have created of truth – the need to know in order to feel safe. Instead find comfort in the unknown, vast potential that is at the core of your being. Thanks for tapping in with me Enjoy your practice!

 

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Samskaras and Neuroplasticity

Burning SAmskaras

 

Dissolve Thought, Emotion and Behavioral Patterns

 

Does your family put your spiritual practice to the test? 

Have you been making leaps and bounds through your yoga or meditation practice – feeling better day to day, learning to take a breath in the challenging moments and ultimately living life more freely from a place of joy? The Yoga practice helps us move in that direction and then we go back home for a holiday gathering with our family and suddenly we are right back where we started. Why is that? What is it about family, care takers, or being in the home we grew up in that pulls us back into our old patterns of thought, emotions or behaviors? According to the yoga tradition its because of Samskaras.

What ARE SamskaraS?

A samskara is often translated as the groove or pattern of the mind and directly relates or corresponds with our actions or behavior. Samskaras begin forming at the very moment we step into our body. Our parents, or the ones who raise us are largely play a major roll in the forming of our Samskaras. When we were children our lense of perception was colored for us, we were taught to see the world the way our parents, teachers, and society saw it. At some point in our journey we woke up and began to self reflect, recognizing that perhaps the lens we’ve been looking through is not the truth. Lets look at this lens of perception as a window – the window has a lifetime of dirt and grime, and the yoga, meditation and self inquiry practice help to clean the window little by little, allowing us to see life more clearly so we can experience it as it is rather than as we believe it to be. 

The analogy I use in the video below is another way of understanding Samskaras. I explain that Samskaras create grooves in the mind like the groove of a river in a mountain side. The river carves out the earth little by little though repetition and time and eventually becomes powerful. Our mind  (thoughts, emotions, beliefs, perception) is exactly like the river. Starting when we are young it begins to look for like and unlike experiences and collecting them  as beliefs and perception. This helps us to determine safe and unsafe situations, and forms our communication: “when I cry, caretaker brings me food”, or perhaps “when I cry, no one responds”. Through repetition these observations become our perception, or the grooves of our mind. We may then form the opinion that it is good or bad or effective or ineffective to express ourselves a certain way. We form beliefs about others and the world we live in. 

Now that you have began your yoga practice you have likely begun the process of burning away your Samskaras, How do you know? If you are behaving differently: more patient, kind, respectful, loving, emotionally stable or vulnerable, light hearted, joyful, etc. Burning Samskaras or old patterns allows us to live in the now, where the magic of life exists, and the world feels exciting and new again. 

WHY DOES BEING AROUND FAMILY MAKE ME FEEL LIKE I HAVE NOT GOTTEN ANYWHERE?

Because the vast majority of Samskaras were formed at a very young age they have had a life time to get stronger. Like the river that has been digging its way into the earth, the longer it has been flowing, the deeper the groove. The samskaras that were formed as a child are triggered by experiences that are closest to the ones that formed them in the first place – typically your parents, siblings or caretakers. Or you might be most triggered by people in your life that most resemble them which could be your boss, teacher, in-laws, friend, etc. You may have been working on yourself for quite sometime, burning away the outer layers, only to show up at a family gathering or holiday dinner and notice your blood boiling, ready to argue, run away or just plain give up. There is an old saying that goes something like “if you think you are enlightened, visit your family”. How perfect that statement is as a reminder that yoga is a practice not a one time product purchase to solve your issues – we need to continuously stoke the fire of transformation to experience freedom from our Samskaras. 

Burning Samskaras

Burning Samskaras means is recognized in modern psychology as Neuroplasticity – our brains capacity to change our neurological patterning. While much of our childhood patterns are formed without our awareness, it is awareness that allows us to burn what no longer serves us. Awareness is also what allows us to choose how we want to feel, act, think and exist in this world. Awareness is a state of being that floods our conscious mind when we are present in the here and now. Have you ever watched yourself think a thought, or witnessed the sensations of your body, or decided to take a breath instead of react? The part of you that is aware of thoughts, emotions, and actions is awareness and Awareness is something you can strengthen just like a muscle. How do you strengthen it? The 4 main practices are Yoga, Meditation, Breath Work (pranayama), and Self Inquiry. Self Inquiry is also the result of the first three practices, as it is our “awareness” that creates the inquiry. Self inquiry is the process of asking your self questions, observing your thoughts, emotions and behavioral patters, and reflecting upon your actions and reactions. Through repetition, your awareness builds strength and awareness slowly burns away old patterns – literally the brain forms new neurological “wiring” which changes the way we act or react in any given situation. 

Anchoring

There is much that is beyond our control such as life circumstances, and outcomes of our actions, but what we do have control of is the inner landscape of our mind and our actions. That might seem like a large task, and it does take time an routine practice of yoga and meditation (see Elements of Mastery for both), however there is one thing you can do right now to help you maintain your ground when you step back into the all too familiar family dinner or holiday celebration. 

“Create and Anchor” This is what I call having an intention, but I use the imagery of an anchor so when the seas get rough, you hold tight to the ocean floor and stay deeply grounded in your intention. The questions to form your intention are

  1. How do you want to feel?
  2. How do you want to Act? 

Anchor your self into the answers of these questions by asking yourself how you want to feel/act the moment you start to feel your blood boil under the surface of your skin, or when you just want to run or hide. When you notice yourself falling back into your old patterns hold tight to your anchor and do not let go. You may need to excuse yourself and take a few breaths or do a quick sun salutation, and that is ok! Be compassionate, the river is incredibly strong but you are indeed stronger. 

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The Transformation Equation

The Transformation Equation

 

 

A.C.T

Deep inside every one of us exists a desire to be the best we can be during this short time that we have here in this life. It may be covered up by insecurities, shame, guilt, or the business of our day to day lives. You owe it to yourself to live a life that feels amazing and has a positive impact on everyone around you. Reading this means you are already stepping in the right direction, only those called toward a path of self-awareness would get excited enough at the word “transformation”. Most would be terrified of the word and back away entirely. Acknowledge your courage and continue seeking the tools that support your growth.  

A.C.T is the acronym I use for the Transformation Equation, it stands for Awareness + Conscious Action = Transformation. Before we go over what I mean by this lets first get clear of one thing. Transformation in the spiritual sense of the word is not the same as change. Change is inevitable, it’s happening all around us, within us and it is unstoppable. Try to take control and stop change and you will always lose as it is a law of life. On the other hand, Transformation is a choice. While everyone longs to transform their lives and live at their highest potential, few are willing to risk the comforts of the known over the adventure of the unknown. Stepping into your potential is not without risk, you can try and calculate it but ultimately you have no idea what lies ahead. All you can control is what you do with the time that you have. Do you choose to face the challenges that are required for you to step up into your potential, or do you sit back living in the known stagnancy of day to day tasks? 

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AwARENESS + CONSCIOUS ACTION = TRANSFORMATION

    Step 1. Awareness

    Awareness is required before action if you want your efforts to produce positive outcomes. Action without awareness will still be productive but as we know it often causes burn out and unfavorable results. Awareness can only be built through routine exercises of self-inquiry and observation. Self-inquiry is focused contemplation, asking yourself the questions to better understand your patterns of behavior. Most people are terrified of self-awareness simply because they don’t want to see all the aspects of themselves that they do not like. While it is true that you will see the darkness of who you are, you will also grow to see your amazing light that permeates every cell of your body. You cannot see your inner magnificence without cleaning off the lense that you see your self through, which means you’ll have to be willing to see aspects of yourself that you are not proud of. No matter how much we each deny it we all want to be the best we can be and that requires facing our internal challenges, cleaning our lense of perception and inquiring about who we are and why. Self-inquiry takes tremendous courage but as a result, we become self-aware, grateful for the person that we are, relaxed in our being, confident, filled with love to give, able to receive, more productive, less burnt out, more joyful and so on. 

    Step 2: Conscious action

    Action in alignment with awareness leads to profound results. Conscious Action requires awareness in every step, re-evaluation, and clear communication with anyone you are carrying out the actions with. Awareness produces a clarity inside of who you are and what you want to create with the time you have in this body. However, without Conscious Action, you can never grow into your potential. Potential is a trajectory, a path that you walk not a destination. Your potential could simply be to become a kind-hearted, loving human being, or it might be bigger than that: one who pulls others around them into their potential. Your potential will always grow as you take steps toward it – stay in tune through self-inquiry, and Consciously take action in alignment with it. 

    Result: Transformation

    Transformation is the inevitable result of your awareness and actions. The choice to transform your current life for the person you are becoming is one that very few people take in this life. Transformation can not happen without Awareness because without seeing your own magnificence you can never expand upon it. If all you see is your self-doubt and insecurities, and you spend your energy hiding them from the majority of people you connect with you will never have the energy to move forward. Do you choose to hide or do you choose to get courageous, see and share yourself, and expand into the person you are becoming? Watch the video below to see more about how to make use of the transformation equation and build the courage to step into your magnificence potential, you deserve it. 

    Create a Life You Love

    Place your energy on what you want to create in your life so that the short life that you get to live is filled with love! If you are lookin to go deeper, I taught and recorded a workshop live called Dance with the Flames  which uses the theme of stepping into the fire of transformation in order live the life you deserve. I sincerely hope you make use of the transformation equation and it serves you for the many years to come!.Please share your comments, questions and experiences. I look forward to hearing from you.

    DANCE WITH THE FLAMES

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    find your seat

    Find Your Seat

    3 Ways to Sit without Knee, Hip or Back Pain!

    Find Your Seat

    While the deep benefits of seated meditation are known to and have been experienced by many, there are people the world over who find the practice to be inaccessible for the simple reason that they can’t find and maintain a comfortable seat. This is true for me, even to this day, no matter how open my hips are, or how strong my core and back are. If I try and sit on the ground for an extended period of time one of my legs will fall asleep, or I will at the least just be uncomfortable. If you have the same experience you will find these particular postures to be very supportive!

    THE CHALLENGES

    Why is it challenging to sit? There is a host of reasons why we might find it difficult to sit on the ground – perhaps primarily because we just don’t do it. Sitting in a chair does not allow our hips to go through their full range of motion each day, and as a result our back and hip flexors don’t develop the strength needed to keep us upright. Yoga can serve as an amazing practice to redevelop the capacity to sit more efficiently, although it won’t happen over night – which is why its necessary to check out the 3 postures in the video and photos below, so you can sit comfortably on the ground while you are working on the long term hip opening journey.

    Trying to re-pattern our body takes repetitive practice. As with any other skill, you can only learn from doing it. That is why I created Hips: Rock and Unlock Em  – I wanted to support you in feeling good in your body (low back in particular)  on a daily basis. 

    Is meditation Calming?

    When Most people begin a meditation practice they expect it to have the results that everyone preaches; calm mind, relaxing, stress reducing. While some people do experience these results right away, others may experience the opposite. In weight lifting you must build a foundation of strength before you can move on to heavy compound movements, and establishing this foundation can at times be challenging and discouraging. Meditation is very much the same, the practice of it might feel like you are lifting heavy weights for your mind and as a result you might initially only experience the challenge of it. With repetition your mind will get stronger, you will be able to focus longer and the results will come faster!

    Is meditation Calming?

    When Most people begin a meditation practice they expect it to have the results that everyone preaches; calm mind, relaxing, stress reducing. While some people do experience these results right away, others may experience the opposite. In weight lifting you must build a foundation of strength before you can move on to heavy compound movements, and establishing this foundation can at times be challenging and discouraging. Meditation is very much the same, the practice of it might feel like you are lifting heavy weights for your mind and as a result you might initially only experience the challenge of it. With repetition your mind will get stronger, you will be able to focus longer and the results will come faster!

    Assess your hips

    Each of us has our own movement patterns which cause some muscles to be stronger, some weaker, some are tight, some are not, etc. We also have different bone structures that will make some positions easier than others. Finding a comfortable seat is one of the most important aspects of a seated meditation posture. If you are uncomfortable it is very hard to move the mind beyond the discomfort of the body. This is why I have provided three options for seated meditation postures. Go through each and ask yourself which one is most sustainable. Keep in mind there is no perfect seated posture for meditation, there is only the best one for you and that is the one you feel most comfortable in, and that also allows you to stay awake and present.

    Assess your hips

    Each of us has our own movement patterns which cause some muscles to be stronger, some weaker, some are tight, some are not, etc. We also have different bone structures that will make some positions easier than others. Finding a comfortable seat is one of the most important aspects of a seated meditation posture. If you are uncomfortable it is very hard to move the mind beyond the discomfort of the body. This is why I have provided three options for seated meditation postures. Go through each and ask yourself which one is most sustainable. Keep in mind there is no perfect seated posture for meditation, there is only the best one for you and that is the one you feel most comfortable in, and that also allows you to stay awake and present.

    Option 1 - Bhadrasana (Hero's Pose)

    My personal favorite seated posture for those who have tighter outer hips and inner thighs as it requires little flexibility in these areas. It presents a challenges for those with tight quads, and shin muscles. Using blankets and blocks can help alleviate these challenges. I would suggest warming up and stretching the thighs and ankles prior to working on this posture. In the above video I go over a twisted thigh stretch and a seated posture on heels. If these postures prove to be too challenging after a warm up, then this posture is likely to cause discomfort during a seated meditation.

    Option 2: Cross Legged

    The so called “easy seat” – an ironic title, as it can be incredibly misleading. For those with open inner thighs, hip flexors and outer hips this can be an easy posture indeed, but if that is not the case for you then you’ll definitely want to use props. Using the right amount of blankets and block support can make this posture easier and more accessible.

    Option 3: On Chair with Blocks

    In the video I show a seated option call sidasana, however I wanted to offer one other one here – Sitting in a chair can seem like cheating, as it can be incredibly easy to get too relaxed in. Here you will notice how I prepare the chair with blocks and a blanket and I sit on the edge of the seat so that I still used my back and hip flexors to keep me upright. Some level of muscle engagement is important to stay awake and present when meditating.

    How to Start Meditation

    The best way to practice meditation, like anything else, is to have guidance. When I was younger I struggled for years to meditate without the support of a teacher, and mostly I became frustrated and lost in my thoughts. This is why I created the Elements of Mastery online program – to provide a way for you to begin practicing yoga and meditation together. The second workshop “Earth and Water” is the perfect Daily practice for both hip openers and meditation! Can’t afford EOM? Dont have access to a teacher? meditation is still possible but you have to start easy. I suggest a 1 minute meditation practice daily for 2 weeks. Set a timer for yourself and narrow your attention to your breath. Try to feel as it enters your body and feel as it leaves your body. After 2 weeks,  do this same thing for 5 minutes daily , with a timer set. Work your way up to 17 minutes a day, but don’t try and do this all at once as you you will likely become discouraged. Focus is like a muscle that needs strengthening and it takes time to develop.

    How to Start Meditation

    The best way to practice meditation, like anything else, is to have guidance. When I was younger I struggled for years to meditate without the support of a teacher, and mostly I became frustrated and lost in my thoughts. This is why I created the Elements of Mastery online program – to provide a way for you to begin practicing yoga and meditation together. The second workshop “Earth and Water” is the perfect Daily practice for both hip openers and meditation! Can’t afford EOM? Dont have access to a teacher? meditation is still possible but you have to start easy. I suggest a 1 minute meditation practice daily for 2 weeks. Set a timer for yourself and narrow your attention to your breath. Try to feel as it enters your body and feel as it leaves your body. After 2 weeks,  do this same thing for 5 minutes daily , with a timer set. Work your way up to 17 minutes a day, but don’t try and do this all at once as you you will likely become discouraged. Focus is like a muscle that needs strengthening and it takes time to develop.

    From Body to Mind

    One thing I noticed early on in my meditation practice was the discomfort of my body. I couldn’t focus my mind on anything when I was seated because I was distracted by my back, my knee, my neck, and so on. This realization led me to the physical practice of yoga. Through the yoga practice I gained a heightened sense of awareness of my body. At first this was almost a curse, because I could feel everything – including my discomfort! Over time and practice I gained a bit of mastery in my body, in that I could feel the discomfort and choose postures to better accommodate myself and release it. The seated meditation practice became so much more enjoyable when I could extend my attention beyond the physical, knowing that I wasn’t causing damage by forcing myself to sit through knee, or back pain. While I do believe that some pain in the body can be a result of mental projection, I also know first hand that placing love and attention on the body can support the health of the mind.  There really isn’t a divide between brain and body – the mind is a collective of all our physical and emotional experiences. For sound mental health to be our primary state of being we must get to know ourselves on all levels and develop our awareness. 

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    Get 2 full hours with Matt Giordano focusing on the techniques that increase the range of motion in your hips and provide long lasting freedom. You will have immediate, unlimited access, and can enjoy the benefits today!

     

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