Understanding Family Karma & Harmonising Complex Family Dynamics | Jonni Pollard #070

Vital Veda Podcast Banner: Family Karma & Harmonizing Complex Family Dynamics with Jonni Pollard
The Sun, divine sustainer of all life on earth, also known as Sürya in Sanskrit, can be one of our greatest allies when approached with reverence and understanding. 
Having a clear comprehension of the relationship between the Sun and our own physiology is fundamental to make of this astrological body an empowering force within our lives.
In this episode we break down the science & mysticism behind this astounding & ever-reliable force of nature.  

About our guest: Jonni Pollard

Jonni Pollard, program founder and head teacher of 1 Giant Mind, is a world-renowned meditation teacher who has studied how to unfold human potential for over 20 years under great masters in the East and West.
His programs, including 1 Giant Mind’s Learn Meditation app, have taught more than 250,000 people how to meditate.
Jonni is at the forefront of authenticity in the meditation teacher landscape, making practical translations of ancient teachings for a modern lifestyle.

In this Episode we Discuss:

An Introduction to Karma

The traditional definition of karma कर्म is "action that binds". 
  • Any action that is determining our direction or pathway in life
Karma is the underlying universal intelligence that ensures everything stays on track moving in the direction of its final destination (liberation [ moksha ] or dissolution). 
  • Consciousness is like a river moving towards the ocean; and karma acts like the riverbanks that guide the water (consciousness). 
  • It is a non-punitive, definitive, strong boundary that nature provides for consciousness to evolve.   
  • It is only through swelling that a river manages to escape the limits of its banks. In the same way, when one achieves higher states of consciousness one is able to transcend karma and move past its limits. 

Karma and Dharma

Karma is the force that drives dharma धर्मा into action
  • Dharma धर्म is an individual’s duty in any given time that leads to the evolution of the individual soul & the collective consciousness simultaneously
River in a valley
Our dharma becomes the healer of our karma and everyone else’s karma.

An Introduction to Family Karma

Family karma is the bond (or bondage) that ties us to souls that we have traveled through many incarnations with, to the point where we are bound not only spiritually but on a genetic level. 
It is the karma of families that is the most powerful, impactful and more challenging to resolve, and yet it is also the most liberating when we get to the root of the challenge it presents us.
The various degrees of intensity family karma can take.
  • For some it may be a strong force that can be either loving, fierce or both. For others it may be a very mild force that doesn’t seem relevant at all.
Silhouettes of parents and two children in sunset
  • The intensity of this karma may fluctuate during a lifetime/lifetimes. 

Managing Difficult Family Relationships

When going through periods of intensity that present a real challenge to us, the key is to surrender to it and embrace everything that this period is and entials. 
  • Patience and compassion are fundamental. 
Understanding the role that every party plays within that relationship and that reciprocity is always meant to be honored
Setting healthy boundaries that create a sense of separateness that often allows others to have time and space to reflect on the degree to which the relationship is important to them or not, and whether they are willing to accept the terms by which you are willing to interact. 

Broken Families

In some cases it seems like the most appropriate thing to do is to simply cut off family members from one’s life. That is not wrong in-and-of-itself. 
  • If you did decide to do internthis, ask the following questions
    • To what extent does this family member(s) consume your awareness on a day-to-day basis? 
    • How much time are you involuntarily having to invest in relationships that you have declared that you don’t want to be in or don’t want to have? 
      • Despite being absent or not participating in these relationships, if you are still consumed by them internally, then that means that the karma is still lively and it is therefore a relevant thing to be addressed
Jonni’s method to find resolve in these situations:
  1. Start by auditing yourself, your assumptions, your prejudices and the extent to which you are seeing these people in their limited conditional state, instead of seeing them in their true light: as divine souls on a journey of awakening.
  2. Judge the degree to which you are lacking compassion and insight into their condition, along with the extent to which perhaps you might be hypocritical in your judgments. 
  3. Ponder the length to which you would make yourself available if they were to reciprocate in this internal reflection.
    • Be honest with yourself and take responsibility for the role you are supposed to play in this relationship. Are you willing to put in that effort? If not then there’s work to be done on your end. 
  4. Effectively make yourself available to the extent that this can be a shared experience.
    • If you are willing to be open hearted and put in the effort to heal the relationship but the other cannot reciprocate then it’s ok to set boundaries. 
      • But don’t take your leave still bounded to your resentment, disdain, self-righteousness and/or feeling like a victim. Let go of all of that extra weight that serves no purpose. 

The Current Global State of Affairs & Its Impact On Family Relationships and Friendships

Families are being torn apart by opposing world-views & lifestyle/health choices. 
  • What is happening on the planet right now is triggering the deepest primal wounds & fears of everybody. 
It’s paramount to allow ourselves to have our own opinion while also honoring that of others, no matter if they are aligned with ours or not
  • Projecting our choices onto others is what creates this great divide. 
Shifting the focus from worrying about the choices others make, to how our relationships are being torn apart because we can’t see how the fear that underlines our differences is affecting us.   
  • Being able to see beyond the veil of fear, worry and concern and shedding light on the love that ultimately unites us all
Letting go of the need to be right in hopes of being able to collectively transcend this divisiveness.

Nature's Divine Arrangement of a Global Pandemic

The current world-wide state of affairs is a consequence of us being grossly disconnected from fundamental laws of nature such as the governing system of Mother Earth and Mother Divine (consciousness)
It is a moment for us to face the current state in which the collective consciousness is in & what nature is trying to tell us, and repay the debt we have within ourselves and with each other. 
  • We have to face all of this not with fear, anger or trepidation of the future, but with an open heart, and trying to envision the type of world in which we want to live once we come out of all of this; then let our actions guide us in that direction. 
We have been placed in a very constrained reality right now and been given time to go into ourselves and confront who we are, what matters and the pathway to our own liberation.

Relatives That Are In The Very End Stages Of Life

Dylan’s & Jonni’s experience with close relatives that dropped their bodies. 
Being able to understand that the body will be dropped when it’s ready to be dropped. 
The peeling away of the panchakoshas पंचकोश: the five energy bodies that cover the atman of every living being. 
  • The five koshas (a.k.a. sheaths) are:
    • Annamaya Kosha (Physical Sheath)
    • Pranamaya Kosha (Vital Energy Sheath)
    • Manomaya Kosha (Mental Body)
    • Vijnanamaya Kosha (Wisdom or Awareness Body)
    • Anandamaya Kosha (Bliss Body)
Diagram explaining the panchakoshas

Karma & Reincarnation

Our karma conditions the possibilities we have for our next incarnation. 
Jonni’s recount of the moments before his last incarnation

Resources

1 Giant Mind Website HERE

1 Giant Mind Podcast HERE

1 Giant Mind Meditation App on Apple App Store and Google Playstore

Jonni's Current Group Meditation Link HERE (every Tuesday at 7pm AEST)


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Please leave me a comment below (I love to read every single one).


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Time Expresses the Divine Feminine

Illustration of Durga Devi

You may have heard that the Goddess or “Shakti” is closely related to Time.

“Kālī” - the famous expression of the mother divine force that ruthlessly destroys irrelevancy, shares the same root word of “Kāla”, the Sanskrit word for time.
So what is the relationship between Time and Mother Divine?

A better word for “time” would be the “Rhythms of Nature.”

Divine Feminine expresses itself through Nature’s Rhythms.
And we are about to experience one of the pinnacles of Mother Divine (Shakti) on display during a seasonal transition (ṚtuSandhi ऋतुसन्धि) post-equinox NEXT WEEK.
The video shows Goddess-Shakti Mother Divine expressing itself as the cosmic rhythms of nature:
Video by @djsadhu
Planets move around the Sun,
the Sun moves around the Galaxy and very likely a twin dark star also,
Orbits and Helices (3D shapes wound uniformly around a central column or suṣumṇā nadī), are formed by the planets, led under the influence of commander Sūrya (the Sun).
This flow, movement and dynamism that plays in the cosmos (and video) is Goddess-Shakti, AKA mother divine, prakṛti and Durgā.
Starting the first new moon after the equinox is the 9 Nights of Mother Divine, “Navratri”, starting Oct 7th, Oct 6th (USA).
Simply aligning to these rhythms of Nature is aligning to your Human-Nature which is aligning to Durgā - activating Divine Feminine in you and your environment. This is true “Goddess worship.”

WAYS TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS UPCOMING NAVRATRI

  1. Free wisdom & practical sessions each of the 9 nights w/ my colleagues and I (super excited for these).
  2. My teachers are hosting 2 special webinars to learn self-pulse, an Ayurvedic Self-referral technique.
  3. Join the Navratri Restorative Cleanse w/ @prashanti.veda.mandala - this is my 2nd Navratri doing it and I love it! This post was greatly inspired by Prashanti’s unique & precious wisdom.

How do you celebrate / participate in Navratri? Comment 👇

Why Sunglasses are NOT Healthy | Light: The Divine Healer | Matt Maruca #069

Vital Veda Podcast Banner
The Sun, divine sustainer of all life on earth, also known as Sürya in Sanskrit, can be one of our greatest allies when approached with reverence and understanding. 
Having a clear comprehension of the relationship between the Sun and our own physiology is fundamental to make of this astrological body an empowering force within our lives.
In this episode we break down the science & mysticism behind this astounding & ever-reliable force of nature.  

About our guest: Matt Maruca

Matt Maruca founded Ra Optics to make the world's finest blue light blocking glasses, and created The Light Diet, a diet that directly addresses the root of the modern chronic disease epidemic, mitochondrial dysfunction, after having suffered from poor health and chronic fatigue at a young age due to technology overuse and an indoor lifestyle.
He is now 22 years old and travels the world, studying and teaching about the relevance of light in human health.

In this Episode we Discuss:

The Three Main Causes of Disease In Ayurveda

1) Misuse of intellect (prajnaparadha प्रज्ञापराध):
The term prajnaparadha is made up of two words: prajna translates as “knowledge” or “intellect”, while aparadha translates as “offence” or “transgression”.
This means doing things without properly discriminating as to whether they are favorable or harmful for the body and/or the mind.
Actions taken with prajnaparadha aggravate the three doshas and stimulate the tamas and rajas gunas allowing diseases to become established.  
2) Misuse of senses (asatmendriyartha samyoga तेषां कोपे तु कारणम्):
This term is composed of the words astmaya, which means "improper", indriya which means "sense organs", artha translating as "the objects of the senses" and samyoga meaning "to combine" or "to link". 
Asatmendriyartha samyoga is the improper contact of the senses with their objects, and results in an over stimulation or deficiency of sensory activity. Actions that perpetuate asatmendriyartha samyoga harm the mind-body and lead to an imbalance that prevents the healthy functioning of your organism. 
Being mindful of your 5 senses (pancha Indriya) is a deep-rooted ayurvedic practice that is fundamental for the balance and wellbeing of the body & mind.
The five senses are:
  • Sound (sabda) 
  • Touch (sparsa) 
  • Vision (rupa)
  • Taste (rasa
  • Smell (gandha)
3) Seasonal variations (parinama परिणाम or kala काल):
Parinama in Sanskrit means “change” or “transformation”, and kala means “time”. 
The external environment, be it the seasons or the weather can affect and unbalance the three doshas, triggering diseases in the body. Exposing the body to extreme weather conditions for which it is not prepared very often leads to some form of ailment within the physiology of the body. 
In a more general manner, this also means the passing of time itself and the effects this naturally has on the physical body & cellular decay. 

Sunglasses And The Tamas Guna

When it comes to human-to-human connection, sunglasses are an obstacle that stands in between. 
Sunglasses bring darkness, which in Ayurveda is often linked to the tamas guna (meaning trapped-light and/or dullness).

Rising Above the Detrimental Effects of Wearing Sunglasses

Spiritual masters such as Sadhguru & Dr. Joe Dispenza being avid wearers of Sunglasses and how they can avoid any detriments by becoming true masters of their physiology.
The Yogis who by attaining siddhis have managed to perform extraordinary feats such as living for several years without sleeping or drinking water or eating food. 
Sadhguru wearing sunglasses

The Healing Power of The Sun

Ancient cultures all over the world revered the Sun as a mighty source of healing power. 
  • The ancient Egyptians, Greeks & Romans had a strong reverence for the sun.
      • The Romans used to even have special rooms dedicated to the absorption of the healing powers of the sun, these were called solariums.
Florence Nightingale, a famous English war-time nurse who is believed to be the founder of modern nursing, reported a finding in her practice:
  • She had patients on two wards: one that was exposed to sunlight and the other was very poorly lit. Patients in the sun-lit ward healed much faster than those in the ward with no exposure to natural light.
The recognition that all life on earth is governed by, and fully depends on the energies of the Sun
Florence Nightingale Painting
The etymology of the word "Divine"
  • It comes from the Latin word divnus which in turn has an etymological meaning that comes from an early proto-indo-european language, according to linguistic scholars, is “Daylight Sky-God”.
    • Therefore the idea of something being “divine” implies the acquisition of the properties of the sky, the heavens or that which is above us. 
    • The takeaway being that to be more divine or to be a higher level being, we should embrace the energy of the Sun (that which is above us), invite it & assimilate it into our lives

Circadian Rhythms In The Body & Their Connection With The Sun

The light of the Sun, passing through our eyes is a key variable for proper health since it triggers our circadian rhythms/cycle. 
The term "circadian" comes from two Latin words: circa, meaning “around”, and diēm meaning “day”. 
The circadian cycle or circadian rhythm is the internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle which repeats itself every 24 hours. 
  • This is a very intricate & extremely important process that regulates the production of enzymes & hormones all around the body and determines the availability or scarcity of energy resources that one has every day. 
Studies show that the fission-fusion cycle in the mitochondria within our cells (which in turn regulate the energy resources those cells have) are controlled by the DRP1 protein which is also synchronized to the internal biological (circadian) clock

Woman dancing during sunset
Digestive enzymes & insulin production also being regulated by circadian rhythms.
  • Ayurveda advises that one should have a light breakfast, medium-strong lunch & light dinner
      • Ideally 4 hours before going to bed one should not eat any food. 

Hormones & Light

We have receptors in our eyes called the “Intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells” which have a specific pigment called melanopsin that absorbs certain light waves. 
  • These cells are connected to the hypothalamus which regulates all metabolic action within the body.
Dr. Alexander Wunsch and his proposed theory on photo-endocrinology.  
  • How the morning light from the sun stimulates a vast variety of hormones such as the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and the Luteinizing Hormone (LH). 
    • THS regulate thyroid function, the FSH stimulates the gonads which produce the eggs of females and sperm in men & the LH produces estrogen and testosterone in women & men respectively. 
    • Then there’s dopamine and melatonine along with many others. 
        • Full video available down in “resources”.
The Alpha-Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone, which is in charge of triggering the production of melanocytes in your skin and is itself triggered by the light passing through the eye.
  • This melanocytes produce melanin which is the brown pigment that causes taking.
  • When using sunglasses you are blocking the natural entry of light through the eye and therefore melanocytes are not being produced to the extent that is needed, which can in turn lead to sunburn & potentially skin cancer.
Sunglasses filter sunlight, which consequently causes the pupils to stay dilated. But blue-light is not filtered by the vast majority of commercially available sunglasses, which means that blue light still enters the now dilated and fully-receptive pupils and can damage the retina and cause lots of other issues & imbalances

Resources

RA Optics website HERE - Discount Code: VITALVEDA

Matt's Instagram (@thelightdiet) HERE

The Light Diet Podcast HERE

-

Video by Dr. Alexander Wunsch on Photoendocrinology - How natural & artificial light is impacting human’s endocrine system & hormones HERE

Mitochondrial activity related to the circadian clock HERE

"The Surrender Experiment" book by Michael Singer HERE


Support The Show

Please leave me a comment below (I love to read every single one).


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Share this episode on Facebook / Share this episode on Twitter


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Please seek advice from a qualified practitioner before starting any new health practice.


The Rock Star Who Radiates Divine Playfulness, Bhakti Yoga & Life-Altering Truths | Raghunath Cappo #068

In this episode of the Vital Veda Podcast we have a very special guest, Raghunath (Ray) Cappo, who has a wonderful life-story & absolutely profound teachings to share. 

A hardcore punk rockstar turned celibate monk turned teacher of all things Vedic.
Raghunath (Ray) Cappo achieved great fame & prominence within the punk-rock scene in the 80s, and yet decided to give it all up and wholeheartedly dive into a purely spiritual path. 
For 6 and a half years he became a celibate monk of the Hare Krishna Bhakti-Vedanta tradition and now dedicates himself to teaching & enlightening others with the powerful knowledge he attained during his wonderful lifetime. 

About our Guest: Raghunath Cappo

By the late 1980’s, Ray Cappo's punk rock band had tens of thousands of fans. Ray was a trendsetter in the centre of hardcore culture.
Then Ray discovered Bhakti Yoga, became a monk, and became “Raghunath.”
Interestingly after that, he started another punk rock band called “Shelter”, which became even more successful.
Raghunath Cappo
All members of the Shelter band were Yogi monks who would tour all over America & the world, singing to large crowds about clean living, self-mastery, vegetarianism and God through hardcore punk music. 
Now he’s the opposite of a monk and punk rocker.
Raghunath is a devotee to the Vedas and Bhatki Yogi who is magnificently relevant at integrating vedic wisdom with the modern world and sharing it in the most playful way.
He is a yoga teacher, spiritual storyteller and he is Born to Give.

In this Episode we Discuss:

The Shift from Rajas and Tamas to Sattva

The self realization that allows for the letting-go of toxic habits. 
The power behind realizing this truth for one’s self (pratyakṣa) as opposed to it being “preached” to us.

The Punk Rock Days

Being very attracted to the counterculture but not so much to the lifestyle of drugs & alcohol that is often linked to it. 
Becoming a vegetarian early in life & taking an interest in Ayurveda, but resources were very scarce at the time. 
His First Hardcore Punk-Rock Band       “Youth of Today”
Ragunath (Ray) Cappo singing on-stage for Youth of Today
The cover of Youth of Today's first studio album "Break Down the Walls".
All of his fellow band members became interested in topics such as clean living, positive attitude, vegetarianism, animal rights & karma, so the mission of the band sort of became to rally people into these subjects.  
  • The lyrics were mostly about these topics. 
This marked the beginning of the “straight edge” punk rock movement in the early 1980s.
When the band started gaining popularity and the movement started to grow, Ragunath felt a rise of unhappiness & started to feel uncomfortable with his own ego.
  • He then decided to quit the band and move into an ashram in India to live a monk life. 

Studying the Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most famous and important Hindu texts. 
It is the conversation between Lord Krishna & his cousin Arjuna during the Mahabharata (the war at the dawn of the ages). 

  • In this conversation Arjuna explains that he doesn’t want to fight in this war anymore because it pains him to kill his own kin. He instead wants to become a renunciant & go live a spiritual life immersed in meditation.  
  • Krishna answers saying that everyone has their own dharma (action at any given moment in life that leads to the evolution of the individual soul & the collective), and that he cannot run away from this duty as a Kshatriya (warrior); doing so will only increase his suffering & that of the collective. 
Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita
Krishna riding the chariot and Arjuna shooting arrows in the Mahabharata
    • One therefore has to use the god-given gifts and put them to work towards dharma - towards a selfless action that feeds the spirit & not the ego. 
Understanding the teachings of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita made Raghunath realize that he had to use his gifts as a musician & lyric writer and put them to work towards a higher goal that would allow him to enlighten others as well as his own spirit.
  • It is then that he started his second band called “Shelter” along with fellow Hare Krishna punk rock musicians.
    • The idea was to make music imbibed with Vedic teachings, but in a language that his audience could understand.
    • Shelter established the Krishnacore punk rock subgenre & became even more famous & popular than “Youth of Today”.

An Overview Of Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti Yoga is the spiritual path where loving devotion is focused towards a personal deity. 
It’s not so much a mechanical process but a mental disposition in which one deposits pure devotion & love on god. 
It implies the recognition of one’s true self as a pure spirited soul that is immersed in a material world, and understanding that the only way to achieve unity with the whole is by serving God with love and devotion.
The process often linked to bhakti yoga consists of: japa, kirtan, puja, the dedication of all activities to the divine no matter how mundane or extraordinary they are, and the capacity to see divinity in absolutely every living entity.  
Kirtan कीर्तन
Kirtan or Kīrtana is the devotional chanting of hymns, mantras and the praise of deities; when done by a collective together it is called sankirtan & when taken to the streets it is called Nagarsan kirtan or Harinam
Chanting the holy names of God (kirtan & japa) is one of the five potent items of bhakti yoga according to the Caitanya-caritāmṛta of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The other 4 being:
  • Association with devotees
  • Hearing the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam
  • Residing at a holy place
  • Worshiping the Deity with faith and veneration
Rama, Lakshmana, Sita & Hanuman
Raghunath Cappo in Kirtan during a Bhakti Retreat
It is said that even if a person who knows absolutely nothing of Vedic wisdom experiences kirtan, there is a possibility they can feel what it’s like to be a paramahamsa (a god-realized person). 
Ahimsa अहिंसा
Ahimsa is the principle of non-violence
It is one of the five yamas (restraints for “right-living”) that Maharishi Patañjali elaborates on in the Yoga Sutras. 
By merely living on earth, one is enforcing some form of violence towards other living beings. The practice of ahimsa implies one being able to see God in everything & worshiping him by trying not to enforce any sort of violence towards any of its infinite forms
Ahimsa is a practice that precedes asana (the postures commonly known as Yoga in the west). 
  • The yogic belief is that true success in Yogasana can only be attained if the Self is purified in thought, word, and deed through the self-restraint of ahimsa.
Yātrā यात्रा
Man Standing in front of a temple in India
Commonly translates to “pilgrimage”.
Raghunath explains the subtle & more explicit types of Yātrā:
  • One ideally makes time every day for spiritual focus (tends to be early in the morning & sometime in the afternoon/evening [e.g. meditation]). 
  • Throughout the month one can take one weekend or one day per week for spiritual focus.
  • In a season, one could go away for one entire weekend and have a full retreat devoted to spiritual focus. 
  • Within the year, one ideally goes at least once on a proper pilgrimage or Yātrā. It is here where one deeply and wholeheartedly dives into spiritual culture all day, every day & for an extended period of time. 
    • This is a very impactful opportunity that has paradigm-shifting effects on those who go ahead and do it.  
    • Raghunath organizes spiritual retreats every year to different places around the world
This is the ancient Indian way. There never were luxurious theme parks or all-inclusive hotels; one simply took their family to holy places.
  • Those experiences will forever be remembered by children & will leave a strong imprint on them.

Raising Devotee Children

The idea of creating “a new normal” for children. 
Teaching them from a very young age about spiritual life & the ways in which they should engage and commune with nature & everything that surrounds them. 

The 6 Pillars of Bhakti Yoga

6 pillars that one can apply to life, whether one is a spiritual person or not, that will have a deep impact in your life:

1. Do not criticize:
Criticism is us trying to correct the world, and it generally serves as a smoke-screen that we use to avoid working on our own problems. 
This doesn’t mean that we do not discern right from wrong, but simply that we do not take great pleasure in finding faults in other people. 
2. Be tolerant:
Instead of complaining, one is tolerant. 
The one who complains on a regular basis is signing a contract with itself to be miserable.
3. Take no offense:
To the degree that one is offended, one suffers. 
Not walking around with resentments. 
Being able to let go of past resentments from traumatic experiences or because of the feeling that “people are out to get me” which usually lead one to find offense where there is not. 
4. Be quick to apologize:
It's easy to forget our own shortcomings when we hurt other people & yet we get resentful when others hurt us. 
One should be very self-aware of one’s own shortcomings & be quick to apologize to others. 
5. See the good in others:
For some people it is very hard to see the good in others. That is a very diseased condition that only perpetuates suffering. 
See the good in others & let them know it. Tell them how you feel & why you appreciate them. 
This practice alone can change your whole life. 
6. Be grateful and keep a tally of your blessings:
Being aware of all the reasons for which one can and should be grateful is a very powerful tool to bring awareness and joy into your life. 
For those people who are suffering from mild depression, this can completely shift their perspective & pull them out of that unconscious state.
  • Advice: open up a note on your phone and write 20 reasons why you are blessed; read it every morning and add two more reasons to the list. Try to make that a morning practice. 

Resources

Wisdom of the Sages Podcast HERE

Ragunath’s website HERE

Ragunath's Instagram (@raghunathyogi) HERE


Support The Show

Please leave me a comment below (I love to read every single one).


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Please seek advice from a qualified practitioner before starting any new health practice.


Brāhma Muhūrta: The Time of Totality & Potent Part of Each Day | Dylan Smith #067

Vital Veda Podcast Banner: The Brahma Muhurta
The Brāhma Muhūrta, also known as the "time of totality" is the period of the day where creative intelligence is at its peak.

Being able to understand and harness these energies is a fundamental aspect of the Ayurvedic daily routine (dinacharya).


In this Episode we Discuss:

An Introduction to The Brahmā Mūhurta

Brāhma in Sanskrit means totality. 
  • It is the field of creative consciousness from which everything springs. 
Muhūrtha is a unit of time. Vedic tradition divides the day into 30 muhūthas of 48 minutes each. 
The brāhma muhūrta is the time of totality. 
These are the names of the 30 muhurtas:
  1. Samudra-muhurta
  2. Brāhma-muhūrta
  3. Dyumadgadyuti-muhūrta
  4. Viṣṇu-muhūrta
  5. Jīva-muhūrta (also known as Amṛta-muhūrta)
  6. Aditi-muhūrta
  7. Kaṇḍa-muhūrta
  8. Agni-muhūrta
  9. Vidhātṛ-muhūrta
  10. Yama-muhūrta
  11. Aśvinī-muhūrta
  12. Puṣya-muhūrta
  13. Ahirbudhnya-muhūrta
  14. Ajapāda-muhūrta
  15. Girīśa-muhūrta

16. Bhaga-muhūrta,
17. Aryaman-muhūrta,
18. Varuṇa-muhūrta,
19. Vāhinī-muhūrta,
20. Naktanakarā-muhūrta,
21. Puruhūta-muhūrta,
22. Sutamukhī-muhūrta,
23. Viśvedevā-muhūrta,
24. Vidhi-muhūrta,
25. Varaha-muhurta,
26. Vasu-muhūrta,
27. Pitṝ-muhūrta,
28. Mitra-muhūrta,
29. Āhi-muhūrta,
30. Rudra-muhūrta

The shloka (Vedic hymn) that introduces the aspect of Dinacharya in Ayurveda states the following:
Brahmī Muhūrta Uttiṣtha Jīrṇajīrṇa Niru Payan
ब्राह्मी मुहूर्त उत्तिष्ठ,जीर्णाजीर्ण निरु पहन
Brahmī comes from the Sanskrit word brahmīk - which is the verb form of brahmā
  • Therefore meaning “that which has Brahma”. When placed before to the word mūhurta, it is saying “The time period that has the value of Brahma, or of creation”. 
Utishta means “get up” + Jīrṇa and Ajīrṇa mean “digestion and indigestion” + Nirupayan means “to judge”.
What this shloka is saying is: wake up in the brāhma muhūrta (the time of totality) & judge your state of digestion or indigestion. 

The Benefits of The Brahmā Muhūrta

The brahma muhurta is the time period before sunrise.
  • Generally speaking, it is said to go from 3:30 am - 5:30 am, but the cusp of the energies available during this period lies on the last 48 minutes before sunrise
One should ideally wake up every day during the brahma muhurta.
The brahma muhurta is also considered in Ayurveda to be the part of the day with Vata dominance
  • Ayurveda divides the day into three parts pertaining to the three doshas.
      • Vata (space & air elements) - from 3am to 6am. 
      • Kapha (earth & water elements) - from 6am to 10pm. 
      • Pitta (fire & water elements) - from 10pm to 3am. 
  • The Vata part of the day is where the air & space element become the most dominant; where subtle movement and actions start to occur
    • The stars are still shining and very much visible. 
    • It is the time period where dreams often occur. 
Brahma Muhurta
    • It is the time when movement starts to happen; some animals begin to wake up & activity is about to start back again.
    • Curiously, it is also the time when people usually wake up to go to the toilet.
According to Ayurveda, the most important aspect when it comes to sleep is when one sleeps, rather than how many hours one sleeps for
  • One should be asleep between 10pm & 3/4am.
    • The pitta (fire + water) part of the day is where the various metabolic processes occur within the body (like digestion of food). Still being active and doing things (even if it is watching a movie or series on your phone in bed) during that time period takes away from our capacity to properly metabolise, which can, in turn, perpetuate various types of ailments in the body. 
    • To learn more about the optimal guide to sleep listen to Optimal Sleep: The Ultimate Guide | Dylan Smith #045
The vata time of the day is also characterized by the quality of gandhana which means “knowledge perception” & sometimes "manifestation". 
Woman doing Yoga during the brahma muhurta
  • During the Vata part one is able to perceive and absorb more knowledge and wisdom
  • According to Ayurveda, this is a great time to study & to do those activities from which we want to make the most out of
Another quality of this Vata time is gati which means “motion” or “movement”.  
  • Waking up during this time period allows one to feel more energized for the rest of the day, you carry on that gati aspect with you for the rest of the day.
    • You feel more energised, creative & light-minded. 
    • On the contrary, if you sleep in and wake up during the Kapha period, that earth & sluggish element will be carried forth the rest of the day.

  • Another aspect of this gati quality is bowel motion, the elimination of waste (a.k.a. mala kriya), which should be carried out early in the morning - before any coffee or breakfast is ingested.
Waking up during the brahma muhurta will promote the creation of sama dhatu (healthy tissues). 
Advice: if you wake up at any time after 3am, to go to the bathroom or whatever reason, start your day right then and there. 
  • Brush your teeth, scrape your tongue & do your dinacharya
Special circumstances:
Cases like infants. the elderly, sick people & night workers are exceptions to these guidelines. 
If you had a celebration/event, went to sleep later than usual and in the morning feel the need for some extra hours of sleep: 
  • Still wake up during the brahma muhurta, do your dinacharya and once you are done with that, judge what your needs are. If needed, then go back to sleep. 
    • BUT, when going back to sleep, sleep for half of the time that you lost
      • i.e. if you went to sleep 3hs past your bedtime, you can ponder sleeping up to 1.5hs extra in the morning. 

"Waking up and not feeling the need to snooze and stay in bed is an indicator of proper health."

In Ayurveda there is a concept called sama dosha which consists of our capacity to both rapidly fall asleep at night & waking up energized and full of vitality. 
The concept of perfect health in Ayurveda is explained in one shloka of the Sushruta Samhita:
“Sama dosha sama agnischa sama dhatu mala kriyaaha
Prasanna atma indriya manaha swastha iti abhidheeyate”
This means: one is in perfect health when the three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha), the digestive fire (digestion, assimilation and metabolism) all the body tissues & components (dhatus), all the excretory functions (the physiological functions of urination and defecation) are in perfect order with a pleasantly disposed and contented mind, senses and spirit.

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Sanskrit & Vedic Chanting: Vibratory Sounds of Cosmic Intelligence | Samadhi Collective #066

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Sanskrit संस्कृतम् is the sound nature makes when intending form, function or phenomena.
Sanskrit reflects the vibratory patterns that govern the universe.

It links the human brain and mind to the vibratory field of Cosmic Intelligence.

Two human brains and minds that Sanskrit and Vedic chanting have absorbed into are this episodes guests: Jahnavī and Kamalā, two sisters who were raised in the foot hills of the Himalayas, spending their childhood learning from vedic sages and scholars in India.

These young women are strongly influenced by vedic philosophy and culture, they are absolutely living the vedic life, and are sharing it with the world.

Even beginners in Sanskrit can learn various mantras and terminology that will greatly expand our understanding of ourselves, other creatures and the entire universe.

About Our Guests: Kamalā & Jahnavī (Samadhi Collective)

Kamala is an art history graduate from the Courtauld Institute of Art (University of London), and holds an MPhil in Sanskrit and Indian philosophy from Oxford University. She has also studied Sanskrit in Karnataka, India and holds a diploma in Hindustani Classical Music. She is fluent in both Hindi and French. 

In Samādhi Collective, Kamala teaches all the Sanskrit and Indian philosophy sessions, as well as developing and writing our informative posts on topics pertaining to philosophy, yoga and more.

Kamala and Jahnavi from Samadhi Collective sitting next to the Ganges river

Jahnavi is an artist, designer and portrait painter, who studied the tradition of Indian miniature painting in Rajasthan. She is also an experienced yoga instructor, trained in Karnataka, and has taught traditional Hatha yoga in both India and Europe, including at Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh. Jahnavi also holds a diploma in Hindustani Classical music.


In this Episode we Discuss:

Growing Up All Around The World

Being born in England, then moving with their family to the United States, later to Holland & by the time they were 10 & 12 years old they ended up moving to India for 6 years.

Living in India as young kids and how both of them experienced it; & continue to experience it today. 

How Samadhi Collective Came To Be

The many shared experiences & the shared understanding of Vedic philosophy & culture allowed them to create this community together. 

The idea of creating a platform where Hindu philosophy & wisdom are shared: mantras, Sanskrit, yoga-related content, music, art, and spiritual practices.

Merging Western Education with Traditional Vedic Knowledge

Kamalā studied art history at the University of London where she partly focused on traditional Indian art, and also did her thesis on ragamala paintings - paintings that are based on classical Indian musical modes (a.k.a. ragas).  
  • These paintings have many Sanskrit Devanagari elements which she felt compelled to study in-depth.
She then did her MPhil at Oxford University, where she deepened her knowledge of Sanskrit & Indian Philosophy
  • All of this studying in England was from a strictly academic perspective, but given that she was also seeking a more traditional approach to these studies, she traveled during her vacations to Karnataka, south India, where she studied in a traditional school with a pundit

Learning Sanskrit

Kamalā advises those who seek to learn Sanskrit to “not try”, instead let go of that idea of “trying” and it’ll gently assimilate itself into your mind. 
A Ragamala Painting
  • The traditional way in which the grammatical paradigms are learned in Sanskrit is by chanting. When doing that, you don’t need to “try to learn” Sanskrit, it is simply assimilated. 
Pronunciation is key: Sanskrit is a spoken language that has a very strong oral tradition. 
  • It wasn’t written down until maybe thousands of years after the sounds were first cognized by the ancient seers (rishis). 
Kamala from Samadhi Collective, sitting in padmasana
Sanskrit is the sound, not the script. 
  • There are many different regional scripts (ways of writing Sanskrit). The different “Sanskrit scripts” (Devanagari being the most commonly used) are not really Sanskrit. 
    • They are vehicles that convey the sounds of Sanskrit but are not Sanskrit per se
The relationship between most bodies of knowledge that come from the Vedas (Yoga, Ayurveda, Jyotish, etc.) with Sanskrit. 
  • Learning Sanskrit allows one to establish a deeper and more profound understanding of these different fields. This is very important both for those who only practice and (especially) those who teach them. 
It is important to not only study Sanskrit in Devanagari but also to study IAST (International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration), which allows you to write Sanskrit words in roman script using diacritic.  

Vedic Chanting

Chanting mantras inwardly vs. out loud
  • There are certain lineages that instruct not to chant mantras out loud, but instead that mantras should be most often chanted inwardly. Kirtan and other group ceremonies being an exception to that rule. 
  • The Guru Diksha Mantra should not be chanted out loud, & the same goes for the Gayatri Mantra
There are certain other mantras that should only be recited by pundits, who have been properly trained from early childhood.
Many other mantras can be chanted by anyone, no matter their background. 
Ragas (arrangements of notes) & when to listen to or sing them. 
  • These ragas also serve for specific purposes; they can be used in Ayurveda as tools to enliven certain qualities and energies within our physiology. 

Favorite Places in India

Rishikesh
Karnataka in south India
Bhubaneswar, in Odisha, where you can find the Konark Sun Temple, one of the most prominent Surya temples in India. 
Kasar Devi, near Almora, Uttrakhand. 
  • This place is known for a temple dedicated to the goddess Kasar Devi. 
  • This Devi temple is of special importance because the region around it has an enormous geomagnetic field that even NASA has studied. There are only two other places in the world that have a similar magnetic field: Machu Picchu (Peru) & Stonehenge (United Kingdom). The three places are part of the Van Allen Belt. 
  • Swami Vivekananda wrote in his diary in 1890 about his powerful meditations in this place.
Jageshwar Dham Temple, also near Almora. 
Konark Sun Temple in Bhubaneswar India
Konark Sun Temple, Bhubaneswar, India
Kasar Devi Temple, Almora, India

Maharishi Patañjali & The Yoga Sutras

They both know the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali by heart & chant them every day. 
Sütra in Sanskrit means “to stitch together”, so when chanting the Yoga Sutras one is stitching his/her own individual self to the cosmic self - a way to connect and commune with a wider universal reality. 
The story of the birth of Maharishi Patañjali. 
  • & the meaning behind the name “Patañjali”. 
The Yogasana mantra or Patañjali invocation mantra: used at the beginning of certain types of Yoga asana classes. 

योगेन चित्तस्य पदेन वाचां मलं शरीरस्य च वैद्यकेन ।
योऽपाकरोत्तं प्रवरं मुनीनां पतञ्जलिं प्राञ्जलिरानतोऽस्मि ॥

yogena cittasya padena vācāṃ malaṃ śarīrasya ca vaidyakena |
yo 'pākarot taṃ pravaraṃ munīnāṃ patañjaliṃ prāñjalir ānato 'smi ||

With palms folded together,
I bow respectfully to Patañjali, the best of sages,
Who dispelled the impurities of the mind with Yoga,
Of speech through Grammar, and of the body by means of Medicine.

The state of Samadhi according to the Yoga Sutras.
  • A state of equilibrium or of pure consciousness, also known as the eighth limb of yoga. 
  • The culmination of all these yogic practices that lead to the enlightening of our true innate self. 

For a more extensive overview of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali check out our Podcast episode with Eddie Stern HERE.


Resources

Samadhi Collective Instagram account (@samadhi.collective) HERE

Samadhi Collective Website HERE

  • They have several offerings that you can see through their website. To book: contact them at info@samadhicollective.com or direct message them on Instagram about whichever offering you are interested in.

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Please leave me a comment below (I love to read every single one).


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Please seek advice from a qualified practitioner before starting any new health practice.


Epidemics and Pandemics According to Ayurveda

A world map showing infection hotspots
Thousands of years ago Ayurveda shared detailed information regarding epidemics thus, applicable to pandemics.
Epidemics were documented in the great Ayurvedic text Caraka-Saṃhitā, likely complicated between 4th century BCE and 2nd-century CE.(1)

The Nomenclature

Epidemics in Ayurveda are known as Janapadod Dhvaṃsanīya जनपदोद्ध्वंसनीय.
  • Janapad जनपद = “nation”, “country” or a “mass population of people.”
  • Dhvaṃsa ध्वंस = “destruction.”
  • The preverb “ud” in between the above two words, means “highly”.

Janapadod Dhvaṃsanīya translates to “highly effective means of destruction to mass populations of humans.”

So what wisdom and advice can we obtain from the “Mother of Medicine” and its millennia of experience?
Plenty…
Ayurveda is celebrated for understanding the root cause disease, and treating it at the root level.
Caraka, a great Ayurvedic Sage
Ayurvedic Sage Caraka
While the wording I am quoting may sound abstract, it is actually extremely relevant for the current pandemic we are in.
Take your time to read these causes and recommendations and ponder how this is demonstrating today and relevant for you…

Factors Responsible for Epidemics (Causes)

  1. “Sins of the present life or the misdeeds of the past life are at the root.”
  2. “Intellectual blasphemy” - not recognising that a Greater Intelligence underpins all life.
  3. “When the rulers of states, towns, cities and countries transgress the righteous path and rule by sinful means.” (Government corruption).
  4. Accordingly, the “subordinates”, the general population, and merchants that are under the jurisdiction of that government add to this sinful situation.
  5. “The collective prevalence of “adharma” (sins/unrighteousness/injustice) makes dharma (righteous acts) disappear.”
  6. “Because of the disappearance of dharma, even the gods [celestial upholders of life] desert the people living in these places. Such are the places where epidemics and pandemics effect.”

Line of Treatment of Epidemic Diseases

  1. Pañcakarma (premier Ayurvedic detoxification program) is the best.
  2. Proper administering of rejuvenation therapy after Panchakarma.
  3. Behaviors that enhance longevity and spread essential biological fluids in the body (“Arcaryā Rasayanas”). Specific behaviors mentioned are: truth-fullness, compassion, charity, surrendering preferences and invoking Greater Intelligences (praying/intentions/ various practices etc.).
  4. Adoption of preventive measures.
  5. Enhancing a state of calm and tranquility.
  6. Protection of the self by mantra (primordial sounds) and other measures.
  7. Implementing things that are good for the self (quality of life).
  8. Taking residence in auspicious localities.
  9. Mastery over sexual energy (brahmacharya).
  10. Studying and discussing scriptures that study the laws of nature.
  11. Serving and associating with “learned persons”, pure (sattvic) people, and those who have mastered their own energy (brahmachārins).
“These can easily save the lives of individuals, provided the death of a particular individual during the period of epidemics is not predestined.”

How does this ancient wisdom on epidemics and pandemics correlate with today's pandemic? Comment 👇


Resources

  1. Meulenbeld, Gerrit Jan (1999-01-01). "Caraka, his identity and date". A History of Indian Medical Literature. Groningen: E. Forsten. IA, part 1, chapter 10.
  2. Caraka Samhita, Vimana Sthana, Ch 2, (19-20)
  3. Caraka Samhita, Vimana Sthana, Ch 2, (12-18)

How to Overcome Food Intolerances

Almonds, a very common food intolerance
Food intolerances have become common currency these days.
Some surveys even suggest that a stunning 25% of the Australian population believes they have at least one food intolerance.
I personally have worked in my clinic with many patients who believed they were intolerant to some type of food, and have now managed - with proper care and the mindful implementation of very simple & straight-forward Ayurvedic principles - to reintroduce said foods in their lives, allowing them to enjoy the treats they had already sworn off a long time ago.
Overcoming food intolerances is possible when you have the proper tools and the right understanding of how digestion & nutrition work.

Factors that increase your susceptivity and reactivity to food intolerances and allergies

Food Quality and Food Transformation (samskara):
For example, one may experience inflammatory reactions after drinking cold homogenised milk extracted from stressed cows. But non-homogenised cows milk, diluted with water, then boiled… this “lightens up” the milk: reduces kapha (mucous creating, congesting qualities), and makes milk more compatible for one to tolerate and enjoy.
Especially if a food item is hard to digest for you or triggers any health implications - those who are wondering how to overcome food intolerances need to obtain quality food and “transform it” the right way, then try & reintroduce.
Poor digestion (low digestive agni):
This is a key factor when it comes to food intolerances.
The agni is the digestive fire in your gut. If the agni is not enlivened enough, you won't be able to digest properly the foods that you eat, especially the ones that your body is "intolerant" to.
In a lot of cases, it is not so much the food you are eating, but the poor function of your metabolic pathways and digestive health that impedes you to properly digest food.
I have worked with coeliacs and many managed to eat wheat again. They don’t eat it every day, but they enjoy this nourishing grain weekly in moderation with the right tools, knowledge and intuition of their own body. They enjoy high-quality wheat cooked fresh, reaction-free.
Those who eat even a tiny amount of onion and garlic and bloat like a balloon…
Those who can’t eat oxalates (e.g. almonds, spinach, peanuts, soy, beetroot, swisschard, rhubarb, cashews, sesame seeds, etc.) without swelling up, getting a runny nose, abdominal discomfort, or itchy skin…
A lot of it can be healed. And from what I have seen, it can be easy as organic ancient grain pie.
The Mind
Another key point.
It’s amusing and fascinating how many times I see patients that only after they get their “allergy prick test”, do they get reactions after eating the foods for which they tested “positive”.

When one unquestionably “accepts” the laundry list of foods they were told to avoid (in some cases, for the rest of their life!) their mind and body accept these “allergies” and reject the food whenever it comes.

Allergy Skin-Prick Tests

For the best part, as a study in the Journal of Paediatrics showed, allergy skin-prick tests are incredibly inaccurate.

One of the problems with them is that, according to another study, patients show skin reactions to allergenic foods in 50-60% of the tests- even if the person is not allergic to that food.

Food sensitivities can be complex, however, they can be healed.
Food Intolerance Skin Prick Test

How to Conquer Food Intolerances & Allergies

There are many variables & possibilities for those wondering how to overcome food intolerances.
My general principle for healing food intolerances is - first fix the digestive fire (agni), then slowly introduce the foods in a methodical way.
Also take into consideration the nervous system, gut-brain connection, toxic exposure & more.
Just eliminating the food is not the solution. You need to fix the underlying imbalance. Because if you cannot digest wheat or milk, how are you going to digest the carcinogenic glyphosate that is being spread across the air and rain onto your organic kale? Or the vaccines and spike proteins that are being passed around. Or the external stressors, electro-magnetic fields & any toxin your body has to metabolise.
It's not a matter of avoidance, but rather of applying the proper principles to reintroduce those foods that you have labeled yourself as "intolerant" or "allergic" to.

If you want to work towards superseding food restrictions and optimise your digestion health, check out my recent online offering: “The Essence of Ayurvedic Nutrition”, and/or book an online consultation.
The Essence of Ayurvedic Nutrition - Online Course

How did you overcome your food intolerances? Comment 👇


Surya Tarpana: Remedies (Upāyas) to Enliven Sun Energy

Dylan Smith doing Surya Namaskar (salute to the Sun)
Here are some techniques to enliven Sūrya (sun) energy.
You may have been prescribed these “remedies” (Upayas) by a Jyotishi (Vedic astrologer) for your unique birth chart.
The following techniques help strengthen Surya energy and connect to the sun.
Although a lot of these are generic ways to honor the sun that is good for many people, we recommend consulting a quality jyotishi to refine how you personally should be engaging deeply in communion with celestial planetary bodies.

Surya Energy

Surya is the cosmic energy that correlates with:
  • The Self. The Soul
  • Ego, power
  • Consciousness
  • Dignity
  • Organising power
  • Leadership, Government, King - the sun governs the solar system.
Further Jyotish details:
  • Exaltation: Aries (Meesha)
  • Debilitation: Libra (Tūla)
  • Moolatrikona: Leo (Siṃha)
  • Father - relationship with one’s father
  • Education
  • Pitta dosha
  • Cakra: Ajña cakra (third eye)
  • Direction: East
  • Sun in Balance: “Atma Śatki”

Practices / Remedies to Strengthen Surya Energy:

Surya Tarpaṇa

Lord Surya, or Sūrya सूर्य is the cosmic sun.
Tarpaṇa तर्पण has many meanings:
  • Fuel
  • Food
  • Satiating
  • Refreshing
  • Gladdening
  • Saturation
Sūrya Tarpaṇa is the process of imbuing Lord Surya with refreshing nourishment and energetic attention.
Surya Tarpaṇa (Offering Water to Lord Surya) Procedure:
1. Fill a cup or vessel with pure water.
2. Face the sun (sunrise and/or sunset time is ideal).
3. Pour the water in front of the sun and look through the “waterfall” at the sun.
Dylan Smith Doing Tarpana for Lord Surya
4. If you are not performing this in or at a body of water (e.g. riverside, in a river, ocean shore or in the ocean), such as an urban setting, you can pour the water into a pot plant or garden.
5. This practice is best done after taking bath (snān). Traditionally one would bathe in a river first and then offer Tarpana to Surya. This way you are purified and energised before subtly connecting with the sun.
6. Practicing Sūrya Tarpana on Sundays should be prioritised if it is not able to be done daily.
Profound Qualities:
  • The waterfall in between your eyes and the sun is not only a protecting buffer to potentially harmful direct sunlight, but also provides a “healing filter” so the sunlight can invigorate the body and eyes that it hits. Safe and effective “sun-gazing.”
  • This is a form of Surya Namaskar: “honoring the sun” - this creates a reciprocal exchange of energy that absolutely uplifts and energies both our individual self and the essential life-giving aspect of nature.
  • Offering water to the sun cools the sun and invokes Gayatri: the feminine principle of the sun, (in you and in the environment).

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations)

Surya Namaskar has been described as the most complete mental and physical exercise available.
It involves a sequence of twelve physical yoga postures or asanas that are so much more than just an exercise.
Surya Namaskar generates prana (life-force) and charges us up like a battery through solar vitalisation.
It is a medium to enhance the energising quality of the sun in us and in the environment.
Procedure:
Dylan Smith with a Group, doing Surya Namaskar
  1. Learn Surya Namaskar from a quality yoga teacher (consider potential adjustments for your unique physiology).
  2. Perform 1 - 13 rounds of Surya Namaskar while facing the sun. This can be done at anytime, but when done at sunrise and/or sunset, there is greater power.
  3. Star with 1 round daily, and can increase to 3, 7, 9, 12 and 13 as is comfortable.
  4. Avoid Surya Namaskar when yoga asanas are contra-indicated, such as when feeling ill, during menstruation and certain medical conditions etc.

Sun Bathing (Responsibly)

Sunbathing with gratitude for the energy and life force Sūrya gives to you.
Responsible sun-bathing considers the three principles of Ayurveda:
1. Desa (habitat) - Where are you in the world. Are you in Scandinavian summer or the Australian summer?
2. Kala (time period) - What time of the day are you sunbathing? In what season of the year? For how long?
Man sunbathing at the beach
3. Patra (unique individual) - What is your skin type? Are you fair or dark-skinned? How is your tan? How used to the sun are you?
These will determine the amount of sun you should expose yourself to and when to get it.
Start with a little sun and gradually increase day-by-day. Getting a little pink is good but you do not want to burn.
Putting oil on and/or the practice self-abhyanga can help protect you from the sun and metabolise the healing properties.
Ayurveda prizes the time periods near sunrise and sunset to be exposed to the sun.
Do not fear the sun, but connect with this Divine Sentient Being.

Listen to Āditya Hṛdayam (Aditya Hrudayam)

Ādityā Hṛdayam is a Sanskrit devotional hymn dedicated to Lord Surya.
It was recited by the sage Agastya to Rāma (the “perfect” expression of the dharma) on the battlefield before fighting with the demon king Rāvaṇa.
This hymn teaches one to ascend to “defeat” the ultimate “enemy”: the darkest negativity or ignorance in one’s own life.
Āditya आदित्य is one of the names of the sun that expresses the infinite cosmic mother, the divine maternal nurturing aspects of the sun.
Aditi is one of the many names given to the cosmic Mother, Mahaśakti. She is the mother of all expressions of consciousness and the source of creative power.
Hṛdayam ह्र्दयम् has a range of meanings:
  • heart, core, essence, best or dearest part of anything
  • true or divine knowledge
  • science / veda
  • going to the heart
Āditya Hṛdayam is the sounds that sequentially enliven the true divine knowledge which is the heart of Sun energy within the heart of the beneficiary (who chants it).
Best to find Āditya Hṛdayam chanted without music or minimal music.
Procedure:
Simply listen to the Āditya Hṛdayam being chanted while you are in a de-excited state (e.g. after meditation, while resting, while sun-bathing).
Listening to Āditya Hṛdayam on Sundays and on Sūrya Jayanti (Sūryas annual birthday) should be prioritised if it is not able to be done daily.

Fasting on Sundays

Fasting the day when Surya energy is strongest makes one “less heavy” (tamasic), thus more pure (sattvic), therefore increasing our capacity to connect with the subtle energies available on Sunday (Sun energy).
There is a diverse range of approaches to fasting, and it is best to consult your health practitioner on how it is best for you. In our online course, The Essence of Ayurvedic Nutrition, we go through the variety of ways you can fast so you can choose the one that is biblically right for you.

Gayatri Mantra

Gayatri mantra is the most commonly used mantra in Yoga.
It consists of primordial sounds that invoke the aspect of the sun that governs transformation and potential illuminating intelligence, called “Savitri”.
Savitri, represents the transformational power inherent in the Sun.
Savitri is the force of nature that changes night into day.
Savitri is dominant in the moments before sunrise, when the environment shifts from darkness (of the ego) into the infinite light of the higher Self.
Chanting inwardly or listening to Gayatri mantra enhances the impulse of Divine Savitri, which activates our power to move into the realm of Divine light.
It is particularly chanted at sunrise, midday and sunset.

These are general recommendations and it is always best to consult a Jyotishi for specific advice.
We also advise you be barefoot during the practice of these upayas.

What practices do you do to honor lord surya? Comment 👇

Siddhis: Supernatural Yogic Capabilities | Eddie Stern #065

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"Siddhis" are extraordinary human capabilities that yogis have been striving to attain for millennia.
And many have been successful, because Siddhis are dormant non-local potentials that exist in every Consciousness state.
A Siddha is one with perfected human capabilities.
One who has sequenced the capabilities of Absolute Totality ("Brahman") to become the perfect (most relevant) expression of “Dharma" (the most evolutionary thing you can be doing in any given moment).
Join Eddie Stern and Ayurvedic practitioner Dylan Smith as they discuss the Yoga Sutras of Maharishi Patañjali, one of the most well-known yogic texts that described these mystical "siddhis".

About Our Guest: Eddie Stern

Eddie Stern is a Yoga teacher, author, and lecturer from New York City.

He has been practicing Yoga since 1987, and ran his school in SoHo from 1993-2019.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s the school became a focal point for Ashtanga Yoga in New York with an eclectic mix of downtown artists and spiritual seekers practicing and meditating next to well-known personalities such as Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mike D, and Lou Reed, in what was also Manhattan’s first consecrated Ganesh Temple.

Eddie Stern

Eddie has a passion for seeking out diversity in all aspects of his work and uses a multidisciplinary approach of combining technology, scientific research, and collaboration to help further understanding, education, and access to yoga.

He continues to study philosophy, Sanskrit, ritual, science, and religion, as well as maintain a passion for the daily practice Yoga.

Eddie learned Ashtanga yoga under Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and R. Sharath Jois, of Mysore, India.


In this Episode we Discuss:

Eddie's Dinacharya (Daily Routine)

Maharishi Patañjali as a Historical Figure

Very little is known of him as a person. 
He is estimated to have lived around 300/400 C.E. 
He is credited with two major works:
  • The Yoga Sütras - a text on Yoga theory and practice; one of the most important texts in Indian tradition and the foundation of classical yoga. Here he elaborates on the concept of siddhis and how to master them.  
  • The Mahābhāṣya - a text on Sanskrit grammar.
He is believed to be an incarnation of Adi Sesha, the celestial snake on which Lord Vishnu reclines in the cosmic ocean. Ayurvedic sage Caraka is also said to be an incarnation of Adisesha. 
Illustration of Maharishi Patañjali

An Introduction to Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras

The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali are made of 4 chapters (padas) and 196 sutras
A sutra from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras
Sütra (सूत्र) in Sanskrit means “string” or “thread”, or something that is woven or stitched together.
A Sütra is a collection of few words that have been “stitched together” to convey in a very brief and precise manner a theorem or maxim that is incontrovertible in meaning.
They very often need to be explained and “fleshed out” by some sort of commentary in order to be fully and properly assimilated.  
In the Yoga Sutras, Maharishi Patañjali explores, amongst many other things, the different mechanisms by which a Yogi can conquer siddhis

Siddhis: Divine Human Capabilities

Tat Wale Baba, an Indian siddha
Tat Wale Baba, an Indian siddha - aged 85 when this photo was taken
Siddhi (सिद्धि), means supreme fulfillment & accomplishment. 
Siddhis are divine human capabilities that can be enlivened by a Yogi/Yogini’s advancement through different sadhanas (spiritual exercises).
  • By means of spiritual practice, the Yogi/Yogini eventually achieves a state where supra-normal abilities become at his/her disposal, it is then that they become a Siddha (one with perfected human capabilities).  
Samyama (संयम) meaning to tie together, integrate or bind; is the combined and simultaneous practice of Dhāraṇā (intention/concentration), Dhyāna (meditation) and Samādhi (union). 
  • By means of dhāraṇā, one puts intent and focus on one of the siddhis, by means of dhyāna one manifests it into a transcendent state of being, and finally, by achieving samādhi the siddhi is allowed to be integrated and unified with the relative field.

Patañjali Yoga Sutra's - Overview

First Chapter - Samadhi Pada
The first chapter of the Yoga Sutras explores the different types of samadhi, of which there are 8 types listed.

Second Chapter - Sadhana Pada
In the second chapter, Patañjali discusses Kriya Yoga (क्रिया योग).
Kriya” loosely translates as “frictionless action” or “action which does not bind”. Kriya Yoga is the active aspect of Yoga
  • There are three components to Kriyayoga: tapas (asceticism), svadhyaya (recitation) & ishvara pranidhana (devotion to the lord). 
  • Kriya Yoga was revived in modern times by Mahavatar Babaji (also known as “The deathless Yogi”), his sishya (student) - Lahiri Mahasaya - and eventually brought to international awareness by Paramahamsa Yogananda in his widely renowned book “Autobiography of a Yogi”.
Mahavatar Babaji, and Indian Yogi who conquered Sindhis and death itself
Mahavatar Babaji (a.k.a. "The Deathless Yogi")
The 5 first limbs of ashtanga yoga are also discussed - the bahiranga sadhana (the external limbs).
  • Yama - the five yamas are personal virtues one has towards the external (society & all living beings)
  • Niyama - the five niyamas are observances that allow one to transcend the external
  • Asana - postures that allow one to be still and comfortable (this is what is commonly known as Yoga in the west)
  • Pranayama - regulation of breath or prana (life-force). 
  • Pratyahara - withdrawal of the senses that allows one to connect with the inner self. 
All of these are considered sadhanas or practices that we can do to achieve the highest states of consciousness
Chapter Three - Vibhuti Pada
Vibhuti means “perfection”. 
The last 3 limbs of ashtanga yoga are discussed here - the antaranga sadhana (the internal limbs). 
  • Dharana - concentration or awareness that is intentionally directed in one direction in an undisturbed manner - usually mantras are chanted and act as the active focus of that awareness.
      • Just like when one places a cup on a table. It is the table that holds the cup up, the cup doesn’t hold itself. In the same manner the Yogi rests its awareness on the object so that the awareness can rest there, immovable. 
  • Dhyana - concentration or awareness that is directed towards one’s inner self; Commonly referred to as “meditation”. A mantra is also used, but it will eventually fade away until a state of transcendence is all that is left. 
  • Samadhi - cosmic consciousness is achieved, the idea of the meditator as an entity completely disappears & all that is left in consciousness is the object that is being meditated on (totality). 
      • The different levels of samadhi are discussed back in chapter 1. 
Samyama is the capacity to direct that tripartite process towards different objects of the world, and in doing so you learn something about the nature of those objects. 
  • Their inner nature is revealed to you, because the chosen object entirely fills your awareness. You take on the defining characteristic of any object in your field of consciousness and allow it to be the only thing that exists there. 
Chapter Four - Kaivalya Pada
Kaivalya means "solitude" or "detachment" in Sanskrit. 
This chapter refers to the isolation of purusha from prakṛti - consciousness from nature -, and therefore the liberation from rebirth and freedom from suffering (moksha).

“Siddhis can be useful because they can help you to understand nature to its finest characteristics. But in the end, the highest siddhi that you can attain is the ability to discern the distinction between nature and consciousness - between prakriti and purusha. When you have that final discernment you are free from the bondage of nature and the suffering which goes along with it.”

Prana, Nadis & The Subtle Physiology of Yoga

Nāḍī (नाडी) in Sanskrit means “channel”
The Nāḍīs are the pathways through which prana (life-force) flows. These channels converge at special points in the body, the chakras. 
Prana” etymologically means “that which causes things to move”; and it’s the life force that animates and coordinates everything, not only within the body but on a cosmic level - everything is constantly moving, some things do so in a more subtle way than others. 
Diagram of the 3 main nadis & the chakras
By becoming aware of the prana that flows within us - and enhancing as well as directing its flow with different yogic practices - one is able to invigorate the body & mind while also opening the door to higher states of consciousness. 
In Pranamayakosha, the energy body there are 72.000 Nāḍīs; yet, these 72.000 mainly spring from three basic nadis: ida, pingala and sushumna.
There are two holes on the sides of the spine which are like conduit pipes for all the nerves to pass - these two holes are ida and pingala
  • Ida represents feminine energy while Pingala represents masculine energy. That is the basic duality of humans, also known as the shiva shakti in vedic tradition.
      • Finding an energetic balance between ida and pingala allows one to flow through life more effortlessly. 
  • Sushumna, the centerpiece of the spine, is attribute-less (meaning beyond duality) and remains mainly dormant.
    • When one manages to direct energies to the sushumna it is said that one achieves the supreme state of vairagya (which translates as “that which is colorless or transparent”).
All the nadis in the energy body
Illustration of all the Nāḍīs in the Pranamayakosha (energy body)
        • Vairagya is a state of inner balance that grants one the capacity to remain utterly unattached, with an infinite capacity to adapt and remain completely unprejudiced to everything no matter the situation one is in.   
        • "Transparent" in the sense that one holds on to nothing.

Siddhis When Put Into Practice

The breathing in and out of air is prana coming and going, and that means that he/she who is breathing is still living in duality - with duality come all the pairs of opposites imaginable: inhalation & exhalation, desire & aversion, success & failure, pleasure & pain, happiness & sadness, etc. 
  • But when a Yogi goes into states of higher levels of consciousness, where duality is transcended, the breathing in and out starts to cease; and when the breathing stops coming out of the nostrils but the body remains alive, the breathing is said to be occurring in Sushumna Nāḍī - the central column.
      • Then aging & thinking stop, and unity consciousness is all that is left, the Yogi as a separate entity ceases to be experienced within his/her own consciousness.
Humans have what are called Central Pattern Generators (CPG) which exist in the spine. These generators drive and maintain certain behaviors in the body such as respiratory rhythms. 
  • The theory is that when inhalation and exhalation cease to exist but the body continues to live, it is because these CPGs are still propagating these impulses of respiratory rhythms inside the spinal column, and that is the reason Sushumna Nāḍī is also called “Internal Breathing” - since the breath only occurs internally in the spine. 
There is also the theory that humans hold all sorts of dormant cells within our bodies, hibernation cells being one type (which for example bears use).
  • Very advanced Yogis manage to awaken and control these dormant cells during extended periods of deep samadhi & meditation and they can slow down the metabolic needs of the body to almost zero
  • Some Yogis are known to not eat any food or drink anything for several years and still live - their mastery over their metabolism is how they manage to do this. 
Mahananda Siddha
Mahananda Siddha
    • This is a siddhi called Kantha Kupe, which translates to hollowness/space of the throat & freedom from all behaviors motivated by fear or survival. 
    • Dylan personally met in India a yogi called Mahananda Siddha, who hasn’t eaten or drank anything in nearly two decades since Shiva came before him and gave him the gift to live 500 years.
      • He lays in fire every morning to receive Prana and the Amrita flows from his mouth to feed his body.
      • Mahananda Siddha is the 19th Siddha in India.
    • Dr. Robert Svoboda's (guest on ep. #062) Guru, Jatala Sadhu Ram Vishwambar Das,  was believed to have lived for over 400 years.
      • Dr. Svoboda explained that Jatala Sadhu didn't eat any food other than Tobacco, and that he performed inner alchemy to turn that "poison" into Amrita (nectar).
    • Another example of a woman saint who has attained siddhis is Sri Sri Sri Mahayogini Manikeshwari Matha.
      • She doesn't eat or drink and is believed to have attained the astha-siddhis (anima, mahima, garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, isatva and vasitva).

Resources

More on the three Nadis HERE

Sadhguru on the three Nadis HERE

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Eddie's Instagram Account HERE

Eddie's and Deepak Chopra's "Yoga For Enlightenment" Youtube Series HERE

Eddie's Website HERE

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