Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Spiritual practice is simply the process of gradually re-directing the energy flow upwards. As the direction of energy flow changes, spiritual transformation begins to occur automatically. Using the pranayama and deep meditation routine from www.aypsite.org rapidly increased the speed of this energy re-direction. As this routine awakened the surging of ecstatic and blissful feelings within me, automatic and natural changes started to happen. I felt a real desire, on a regular basis, to help and serve people and began to do so by volunteering and in more spontaneous ways. There was a great movement from wanting to control reality to surrendering to what is.
This was a blissful experience of expansion. After a while though, the expansion reached a plateau. In fact, my spiritual practice started to feel kind of fraudulent. There was this great rise of ecstatic blissful energy, freedom from attachment, and a loving desire for service. On other hand, I still had some pretty narcissistic tendencies. I still felt strong lust and sexual desire, that felt divorced from a loving sexuality. I had a big desire for acceptance and approval from others. I would still desire to get drunk and feel highs. The desire to “have it easy” (i.e. serve myself) was stronger than the desire to serve others. Ultimately, my desire for liberation from suffering started to feel like just another facet of my total selfishness. There was my ego sitting around saying “I am doing all these spiritual practices, and it’s giving me all this pleasure, yes, keep it coming. I’ll be a more exalted version of my former self.”
All this selfishness, desire, lust, vanity and downward flow of energy began to feel really uncomfortable. Particularly when compared with the calm purity of upward flowing ecstatic bliss. I tried self-denial for a while: i.e. having a mental (egoic) concept of how I should be all good and pure, and trying to discipline myself to act in accordance with it. That really just results in suppression. But I continued my spiritual practice anyway, and just experienced this uncomfortable phase of really looking at myself honestly, and not liking what I saw. I wanted to be different, but somehow knew self-discipline (forcing myself to match an ideal) wasn’t going to affect any permanent transformation.
Then something started to happen, particularly when the Bhagavad Gita came into my life. There was a compulsion to explore it. “Paths to God: Living the Bhagavad Gita” by Ram Dass turned up and had a particularly transformative affect. A strong desire occurred to do more than just meditation and pranayama, to find a way of turning every single second of every day into a spiritual practice. A compulsion to pray regularly automatically happened. The prayers tend to be asking God to show me how to surrender to his will, instead of seeking to control through my ego. Just enough courage to open my heart to God arose, inviting him to look inside me and see what I was ashamed of. I’ve had some very personal experiences of feeling the presence of Ram Dass in my life, which turned out to be moments of opening.
The recently, and at an accelerated pace of the last few days, the downward desires have started to fall away. I started to look at each desire, and to just become aware of the cycles of suffering they would create. There’s been a dissolving of the self-image. You know: there can be a good day for the self-image, people are responding to you well, you feel like you’re so great. Feeling great about some imaginary self-concept started to feel superficial and uncomfortable, and began to drop off. Then there’s a bad day, people don’t respond well, you feel low about yourself. As there’s much less identification with self-image, the bad days stop too. No ups and downs, just a peaceful ecstatic bliss. Desire to drink or use external substances to tamper with my emotional state has dropped away. Finally some humility in my life, if only a little bit! Many thanks to my girlfriend for that, who unfailingly points it out when I’m being arrogant!
There’s a long road ahead, but this has been a wonderful opening and so I wanted to share.
Thursday, 18 August 2011
The past few weeks have been interesting. Almost all forms of meditation (breath-watching, AYP etc) soon followed by depression, and an inability to do anything constructive. In fact, since late December 2010, continuous periods of meditation for more than a week or so would turn me into a complete mess. There’s just a mournful melancholy, which can be beautiful. This is termed ‘overload’ by AYP – too much meditation causing excessive purification, too much for you to integrate. However, as soon as I desist meditation, there is great joy, vast peacefulness and silence. I am reborn each time. Undoubtedly meditation is causing this effect (in combination with much talking to God, praying and bhakti).
I’m learning what uniquely works for me in terms of self-pacing. I find having ‘days off’ from meditation – once or twice a week, is remarkably useful (in fact it is the only way I can continue to meditate without suffering states of intense confusion and despair). During these days off, I become very grounded and highly effective at work again. I also get to experience the fruits of my labour: I feel like I’ve been cleaned out from the inside, and as light and happy as air.
Tuesday, 9 August 2011
From May to July, there was a huge surge of extroverted energy. Suddenly, I seemed to be living by the words: Eat, Drink and Be Merry! I’m afraid this lead to some excess. I drank a lot of alcohol. I smoked some cigarettes. My diet became more rajasic. Wordly desires arose. There was also a strong resurgence of some of my more pronounced negative egoic qualities. Yet beneath this, was much ecstasy, and acceptance of this side of myself, instead of attempting to control or deny it. I allowed it to enjoy itself. I was not born a saint, and violently judging myself for failing to always meet my highest ideals seems only to cause suffering.
This shift also corrected some imbalances. Where I’d been cold and detached in my relationships, I found myself becoming warm and loving. Where I’d been reclusive and introverted, I became sociable and fun. The long depression I’d suffered from January to May completely abated. I released a great deal of attachment, allowing things to be as they are, instead of forcing my ideals upon them. I became hard-working and had successful results in my career, where before I’d had difficulty motivating myself. My melancholy longing for enlightenment became transformed into non-attached love and acceptance of life as it is.
By mid-July, this excessive extroverted energy had died down. I’ve found I can resume my AYP routine (5 mins SBP, 15-20 mins DM) without overloading. Very strong desire for liberation is with me through each day. I read Nisargadatta Maharaj. My diet has naturally become very sattvic again.
I’ve left this experience having learned some important lessons. Particularly:
I’ve learned to stop looking outward for advice. Instead, if I have a question, I look within, and ask myself. The answers often come in a flash of inspiration. It’s a much better way to solve problems than reading other peoples advice.
I’ve come out with an enhanced awareness of my flaws that keep me trapped in suffering and egoity. Seeing the flaws is the first step towards releasing them.
Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Depression, which used to be a regular feature in my life, has completely gone. There’s rarely a down moment. I feel like the emotional energy level I’m on has gone up 10 notches. All of a sudden, there is this huge passion for life again, which is making itself manifest in being very sociable, really enjoying my job and working very hard, and a total passion for and love of living in the world. The past two months were very ungrounded and I was up in the clouds. This is completely earthy and grounded. Unusual as historically my personality has always been a largely introverted, detached, melancholy type. My main joys have tended to be creativity, painting, exercising, reading, writing or spending time with very close friends.
My practice has become a little less regular in truth. Meditation for more than a few minutes seems to cause huge surges of blissful energy. I meditate for more than say 4 minutes, as I become very bad tempered and withdrawn during the day if I do. Current routine is pranayama (2 to 4 breaths), breath watching meditation (3 minutes). This is once a day.
It feels like enough for now. A lot of my actions currently feel automatic, it doesn’t seem like there’s anyone doing them. For some reason, I don’t feel inclined to be disciplined at all at this stage. Everything seems very easy and free-flowing.
Friday, 29 April 2011
Monday, 25 April 2011
There seems to be less and less in my mind these days. It’s as though all the background noise and subconscious waste is being emptied, and each moment is clearer.
Sunday, 24 April 2011
As I look up, on some level I am seeing Ram Dass before me. He is there and he is not. Tears flow, and somehow I feel ashamed, unworthy. I know I have done regrettable things in my life, and my heart is wide open for all to see. There is great release with the tears, they begin flowing unstoppably, and I am sobbing in ecstasy, shame and longing. Pouring out my heart with all its contents, sublime and despicable.
After this, I see Ram Dass one more time, and this time, I feel a radiant warmth in my heart, which precedes deep peace and silence within me.
Friday, 22 April 2011
He once resisted his emotions
Sunday, 17 April 2011
Experiences: I slept extremely poorly on Friday night after drinking a smoothie with a lot of coffee in it. The next day I went to Essential Therapy to spend a few hours in the steam room, and then doing yoga in the sauna. It rained heavily. I experienced great feelings of bliss, but also some sense of overload. I went for a long jog in the rain which helped. On sunday, I felt very happy. But I began to feel disatisfied with my use of time. I stayed inside for a good chunk of the day playing computer games. It felt like a waste of time.
Adversities and challenges: I felt a great deal of negative emotions coming to the surface as a result of intense meditation. I relaxed and allowed myself to feel these fully. I felt an anger against an individual who rudely asked me to leave a gratuity. I walked out and did not return, but found my anger melting into love, and wishing her well, as I explained to her in my mind, without anger, why I felt her service was poor and my reason for not leaving a gratuity. It was a slight epiphany as I realised you can be strong and assertive, behaving as you see fit, not always as others want you to behave, but in a way that is still loving and kind. Final adversity was the slight sense of poor time use due to playing computer games for hours. In response to this I meditation asking for guidance, and the idea of beginning this journal arose.
Monday, 4 April 2011
Thursday, 31 March 2011
- Internal submission and emotional processing. Allow yourself to fully experience each and every negative emotion that you feel. Submit to it totally. Close your eyes and allow yourself to breathe into the emotion. Stay completely present with the emotion. Set aside 15 – 20 minutes to do this, particularly when you are experiencing a strong emotion. Notice than when suffering is taking place, there is always a keen desire that is not being fulfilled, a desire for things to be other than they are.
- Who am I? Ask yourself throughout the day "Who is perceiving this?". "Who is perceiving the air rising in and out of my lungs?". "Who is perceiving the thoughts running through my mind?". "Who am I?" This is a spiritual practise that yields a gradual effect, it will not happen overnight.
- Spinning. Raise each of your arms. Spin counterclockwise, from left to right. Start slowly, pick up speed towards the middle, and slow down towards the end. Spin full circle twelve times, with your visual focus on your right hand. Repeat 3 sets of this activity. This increases circulation of the blood, increase the rate at which your chakras are spinning and heightens the amount of energy running through your body.
- Replace a meal with a green smoothie. I recommend one banana, one kiwi, a large handful of spinach, a small handful of fresh mint, a small handful of parsley blended together with some unsweetened soy or coconut milk. A green smoothie is full of vital nutrients and antioxidants, and is very easy to digest. On an energy level, the greens are full of life energy. When the body does not have to use all its energy in the process of digestion, you accelerate the energy available for higher spiritual processes. This technique produces a great increase in mental clarity, improvement in mood and feelings of joy, heightened energy levels and general feeling of well-being.
- Physical postures and breathing exercises. Work out a 5 or 10 minute yoga routine which you perform every morning or evening. This will help the health of the body, and the flow of energy through the body.
- Service. Engage in activities which give you the opportunity to help others.
- Transmutation of Sexual Energy. Whenever you the feel the sexual urge, take a moment to sit, and breathe the energy up the spine and into your head. Breath in, and feel the energy rise, allow this to bring you to an ecstatic state. Then sit and peacefully breathe with the energy. Avoid losing sexual fluids, and instead channel the energy up your spine.
- Frustrated desire. Whenever your desire is frustrated in some way, and you feel a negative emotion as a result, this is an opportunity for spiritual transformation. Allow yourself to sit quietly, breathing deeply into the emotion, noticing how you may wish to change it in some way.
Thursday, 24 March 2011
First Update: 8 months of meditation and advanced yoga practices
My experience of using AYP practices: techniques for spiritual transformation
I commenced practice of AYP (http://www.aypsite.org/) in August 2010. AYP contains a series of extremely powerful meditative spiritual practices, that are open to all people regardless of religion, and ultimately lead towards a transcendent, blissful awakened state of consciousness. These are the tools that enable one to become like Jesus, Buddha or any other of the enlightened spiritual masters, to follow in their foot-steps, and live a transformed, loving, compassionate and awakened life. Everyone has this longing in their heart for a transformed existence, and AYP provides the vehicle for transformation.
The length of practice has varied a little, but since August 2010 I have done (twice daily):
· AYP Deep meditation. (http://www.aypsite.org/13.html) – 20 minutes twice daily.
· AYP Spinal Breathing Pranayama. (http://www.aypsite.org/41.html) – 5 minutes twice daily.
After 6 months experience, I have no doubt that AYP is one of the most powerful tools I have ever encountered to facilitate spiritual transformation. I have tried various types of meditation
What does AYP do?
AYP activates kundalini energy. This occurs through the spinal breathing pranayama technique. Kundalini is a powerful, divine energy that lies latent with each of us. The energy storehouse is physically located at the base of the spine. AYP’s spinal breathing pranayama raises kundalini up the spine, up through the nervous system and into the brain. As the energy moves up through the body, in results in spiritual transformation. The expression of this spiritual transformation is multi-faceted and ranges from a rising level of ecstasy and joy, to greatly increased love and compassion for others and heightened intuition and brain functioning.
AYP fosters deep inner silence. The deep meditation practice is like a doorway into an ocean of peace and calm. It leads to us become increasingly stable and centered in the present moment, and frees us from being trapped in a stream of continual emotional reactions of life. It allows us to no longer be controlled by fear, anger or other emotions.
The Benefits I’ve Experienced
I am open minded and I am also a skeptic. I was ready to entertain AYP, however I formed no beliefs about whether it was or wasn’t true. A resonance of truth struck me through Yogani’s words (he is the author of AYP) particularly as he makes it all available for free, and doesn’t try to sell it to you. I also had something inside me which strongly guided me to it, giving me an urge to try it. I decided the best way to approach it was to try it and find out for myself.
Having tried multiple meditation techniques, I have some basis for comparison. The AYP experience was very different.
· Ecstatic experience. Within about 2 months of twice daily practice, I began to have ecstatic experiences whilst meditating, and during the day following meditation. By this I mean a feeling of joyous pleasure running through my entire body. It gives me a feeling like I want to sigh with happiness and satisfaction. This feeling will often last for an entire day. This has been an incredible part of the experience, sometimes I’m overwhelmed with joy and ecstasy from this feeling.
· Remission of depression. For my entire life, I’ve suffered from periods of intense depression. Oftentimes, this could be suicidal. However, typically it would express itself as just having a few hours of the day when I felt a bit low and worn out. It’s odd because overall, I’m a very positive person, my relationships with people are great, I’m successful in my career, I take time to help others, I exercise 5 times a week, I’m very healthy and have an extremely healthy diet. Despite doing all the right things, I’d still get these phases of very intense depression. With AYP, this completely disappeared in the first two months, and was replaced by an ecstatic current of joy. I suddenly felt as though a deep longing had been fulfilled. This hasn’t been completely permanent, the ecstatic experience comes and goes, and sometimes I’ve experienced more depression, but generally my emotions are greatly uplifted by my spiritual practice.
· Energy. Since doing AYP I’ve had much greater levels of physical and mental energy. I used to have a point after lunch (around 2 or 3pm) where I’d become very sleepy and unable to concentrate. After about 3 months of AYP my ability to concentrate has improved, I never get sleepy during the day, and I have a much more balanced energy level from morning to evening.
· Desire to serve and morality. Gradually over the past 6 months of AYP, a strong desire to serve others arose. I started volunteering in the Bronx and around Manhattan in projects to help people who needed it. In addition an increasingly strong sense of morality has arisen. I’m not perfect, but there’s a much stronger desire to do good and be good, and a much stronger internal sense of what is wrong and what I should not do. My morals are now coming from my heart, instead of my social conditioning or by accepting the beliefs that are spoon fed by others. I don’t need anyone to tell me what is right, and what is not, I already know in my heart.
· Loss of fear. There has been a huge decline in the amount of fear that I’ve experience. I feel a lot less concern about the ups and downs of life, I tend to feel “come what may, I can deal with it”.
· Loss of attachment. One of the very enjoyable things that began to occur during AYP practice was a significant decrease in my level of attachment. What do I mean by attachment? It’s the desire for things to be a particular way, that your mind conceives. The desire to have money, and the suffering when you don’t have it. The desire to look good, and the suffering when you have a bad hair day or get a pimple. The desire to be treated with love and respect, and the suffering when people are unkind to you. These are examples. My mind has released, to some extent, it’s controlling grasp on life, constantly trying to impose its concept of how things should be, and suffering when life fails to match that concept. So for example, things can go badly, but I still find I am happy.
· Massive decrease in addictive or compulsive behaviors. A lot of unbalanced behaviors, such as drinking until the point of drunkenness, or other activities which result in only transitory pleasure, have started to fall away. With the ecstatic experience inside me, there was a lot less need for pleasure from external sources.
That’s most of it for now. Have I become enlightened? Not yet. Have I experienced dramatic changes in my life that encourage me to keep going? Yes, certainly.
The Challenges Encountered
The greatest challenge that I’ve met stems from my own desire for escapism and avoidance of pain. I’ve always had a tendency to retreat, to retreat into myself, to retreat into books and reading, to anaesthetize myself with alcohol or worse, and when I was a child, to retreat into my bedroom and not want to go out. To create my own little world, safe from the outside. As very sensitive person I have always found, and in some ways, still find, the world a very painful place, full of suffering and hurt. So when the inner ecstasy arose, and I started to feel so joyous and full of pleasurable energy, it was like a breath of fresh air given to a man who was drowning.
I clung to it. I didn’t want to engage the outside world at all, I’d found a boundless source of ecstasy that came from within, and I quickly lost all desire to do anything. It was good enough just to sit around and experience this intense joy and ecstatic experience inside me. Resting in contemplation of the inner ecstasy was so pleasant, that I’d avoid stressful experiences that might shake me from my peaceful contemplation.
I’d also much prefer to meditate and activate this ecstasy, than to face my emotions. Strangely enough, I found negative emotions could co-exist with the ecstatic experience. I could go from a joyous Samadhi into an anger outburst. Rather than deal with what I was feeling, I’d just escape into meditation.
I knew something was wrong. There was a wounded and hungry part of myself that was desperately needing the ecstasy, fearful that this respite from suffering might only be temporary, and seething with an agonized desire to finally end its suffering. Emotions started to arise, mainly deep depressions and feelings of sadness. I unconsciously started to fall back into addictive pleasure-seeking behaviors, like drinking too much alcohol, seeking ego gratification, eating unhealthy foods like chocolate.
The ecstasy from meditation also started to decline (this began in late December), and the more it declined, the more I found my addictive behaviors coming back. More and more strong negative emotions started to well up, whereas before I’d spent entire weeks or months feeling blissfully free of such feelings.
I felt like my life’s storm clouds had temporarily parted, allowing a brief ray of sunshine from heaven to fall upon me, before closing and leaving me cold, wretched and without illumination. The depression welled up, and peaked with an intense desire for suicide. I contemplated various ways of doing this, but it’s harder than it sounds.
There was no longer a choice, AYP meditation had stopped bringing joy, and only seemed to heighten my despair. I realized that I must sit down and just face my emotions. Over a period of a few days, the internal resolution became immensely strong to face my suffering, and I sat, with my eyes closed, breathing in and out, allowing my attention to rest completely within my despair, and everything taking place within and without, in the present moment. I’d stress, this is not a meditation, it’s a technique, which is extremely grounding. I learned to allow myself to fully experience intense negative emotions like this, through doing The Presence Process, which was written my Michael Brown.
I spent a few days doing this, allowing my resistance to these feelings to become gradually broken down. In this manner, the storm passed, and I became stronger inside than I was before. The ecstasy is now returning to my meditations, but this time I’ve retained my interest in the outside world. I’m still able to motivate myself to work, and I no longer cling to the ecstatic experience by avoiding difficult or stressful activities.
I learned an important lesson, that spiritual practice must be grounded, and should not be used as a means to avoid facing the world.
Thursday, 13 January 2011
I can be a bit of a worrier sometimes. I don’t choose to, sometimes a worried feeling just comes, followed by a ton of “worst case scenario” type thoughts. I’ve found a great way of turning it around.
I start imagining myself coping with the worst case scenario in a really strong way. I imagine how negative emotions can often be helpful to shake you from inertia, and get you to take actions in your life. I imagine all the positive actions I would take to improve the situation, and everything that I could learn from dealing with it. I imagine myself coming through the worst of it, and then thriving more than I was before.
Every time this gives the worries in my heart the message that: whatever happens, I will use my creativity, inspiration and intelligence to change and improve the situation. I am not powerless and I have nothing to fear.