Chakra Garden of Jewels ~ Julie Lusk with Kabir’s inspiration and ‘A Place to Sit’
Don’t go outside your house to search for jewels.
Don’t even bother with that excursion, my friend.
There are jewels inside yourself.
Precious, profound and ready to be discovered.
These jewels are just like flowers.
Some are taking root. They are in the process of being fertilized and getting ready to sprout.
Others are growing and budding , preparing to flower.
There are also beautiful blooms inside, brimming with fragrance and lively vitality.
Others are in stages of decline, getting ready to retreat, recycle themselves,
and naturally cycle back to the beginning.
Like a bouquet of flowers, there are jewels within you.
There is a sparkling ruby red jewel and it’s so stabilizing and protective.
There is an orange carnelian jewel too. It lights up your senses, creativity and ability to feel.
There is a beautiful amber jewel, radiating confidence, inner strength and courage.
There is an emerald jewel too. The glowing emerald green jewel is loving, forgiving and kind.
There is a bright sapphire blue jewel shining with truth and sparks your creativity.
There is an amethyst glowing inside that awakens your intuition and shows you the big picture.
There is a crystal clear diamond, shining with spirit, connecting the Holy Ones with you.
Don’t go outside your house to search for jewels.
Don’t bother with that excursion, my friend.
There are jewels inside yourself,
waiting to be discovered, polished and ready to beam beautifully.
1/3 cup / 80 ml good, raw honey
2 1/2 teaspoons dried turmeric
lots of freshly ground black pepper
Work the turmeric into the honey until it forms a paste. You can keep this on hand, in a jar, for whenever you'd like a cup.
For each cup of tea, place a heaping teaspoon of the turmeric paste in the bottom of a mug. Pour hot (but not boiling water) into the mug, and stir well to dissolve the turmeric paste. Add a big squeeze of juice from a lemon, and a good amount of black pepper. Enjoy! Stir now and then as you drink so all the good stuff doesn't settle to the bottom, or top off with more hot water as you drink it.
It is well known that geckos, common wall lizards, have an interesting siddhi. They crawl across the ceiling of one’s living room, sometimes landing unexpectedly on an unfortunate person’s head, when they lose their grip.
They have the very useful power to re-grow their tail if it happens to be snapped off by the household watch dog when it loses its grip and falls to the floor.
There are other species as well that can re-grow damaged parts of their own bodies.
We humans too have such a power but it is of often rendered ineffective by our own ignorance of the miracle of our physiognomy!
Swamiji often asked us a pertinent question during our six month training course. “Did you know your stomach grows a new lining every seven days. (No , we did not know that astonishing fact). “Then why pray tell do people with ulcers continue to have Ulcers their whole lives if a new stomach lining is growing every week?” he would challenge us. Of course, none of us had a clue! He would then triumphantly shout, causing a shudder in the pit of our stomach. “Because all of this re-cycling process is programme by your brain in your Pranic blue print. The Pranic blue print has morphed into a pattern of ulcers in the stomach. So, the body reproduces the stomach lining, ulcers and all, just as the brain has commanded it.
This idea was revolutionary 50 years ago when we first sat at our Guru’s feet who shocked our nervous systems awake. Now, it is quite commonly understood that all parts of the body recycle themselves at predictable intervals. Swamiji told us that every nine years, not a single original cell will remain the same in the body. It will have been recycled several times over as the case of stomach lining, thousands of times for other. Some take a full nine years to recycle such as those in the spinal cord fluid, he said. All other cells have shorter cycles.
Recently in the “The Hindu” Newspaper, a writer espoused this idea with some amazing facts. He was not a medical doctor, so some of his information may be inaccurate but nevertheless it does make a point! We can and we do recycle our cells.
The writer , Ameen Hussain claims :
Mitosis and apoptosis(cell division and cell death) processes have revealed that every week we have new stomach, every month a new skin lining and every three months we have a new skeleton. Except for some cartilage and pieces of bones, almost 98 percent of our body is recycled annually. Every 10 minutes we have a different brain structure because every thought alters it. As a result , our body is a process rather than a structure. It is a river and not a rock. It is a verb and not a noun.
One prominent quantum physicist said during a lecture in the U.S that three years earlier when he went there he had carried with him the same suitcase but not the same body because the suitcase has a longer shelf-life than the body. Another quantum biologist said during a speech that to person can step into the same river twice.
Science now tells us that our thoughts and feelings also alter our physical structure in a minute –by – minute unending process. Our body chemistry is so delicate that it can change drastically in a short time. Many studies have suggested that meditative and contemplative activities have the ability to influence susceptibility to and resistance to disease. Mental, emotional and physical processes constantly interact with each other. Stress produces cortisol and epinephrine which are immune-suppressants that nullify even good diet and intelligent exercise. Loving relationships boost the immune system. Despair and hopelessness can be a contributing cause of cancer and heart disease. A scarcely conscious negative thought can release a flood of destructive hormones.
Knowing this, can we re-construct negative patterns of thought which create disease and imbalance? The Yogis say we can, and unlike science, show us how, with techniques like Asanas, Kriyas, Mudras, Pranayama and Meditation – concentration exercises! We can alter our destiny.
There is so much talk of re-cycling these days! Perhaps we should start at home, in our own bodies, by re-cycling ourselves!
Just like any yoga posture, there is a lot going on in Full Side Plank. The full version of Vasisthasana requires core strength, good shoulder alignment and plenty of leg flexibility. But, there is one key thing that will help you master the practice: plant the bottom foot.
As you can see in the photo below my bottom foot is flat on the ground, as if I’m standing on it. This not only creates stability, but also lifts your hips, which makes the pose feel significantly lighter.
If your ankle doesn’t have this kind of mobility, practice with your foot against floor molding with the pinky toe edge of your foot on the ground and the ball of your foot pressed into the wall. Then lift your hips way up!
Once you learn to get your hips up and feel more stable in Side Plank, then you’ll be able to take the top leg up into the full pose or some other fun variation, like floating it, or tree pose.
To ease wrist pain and make your bottom arm less strained, you have to move your hand forward. Notice in the photo (below) my hand is not directly under my shoulder, but forward under my head. This decreases the angle on your wrist, which causes less pain. It also widens the base of your pose and makes your foundation more stable.
To find this alignment, start your set-up on all fours, then move your hands one handprint forward from directly under your shoulders. An additional note: Keep the inner edge of your hand down, especially where your index finger meets your palm and press into the floor with your fingertips. This creates a stable base, and tones the muscles around your wrist to give it more support.
Your Bottom Shoulder
Aligning the weight bearing arm in Vasisthasana is important, not only to your shoulder health, but also to the stability of your pose. The most common misalignment I see is the bottom shoulder popping forward. This makes it weaker and more prone to injury.
Press your shoulder back firmly, so that you feel the muscles of your upper back working. When you’re in the pose, look down at your bottom arm. Rotate the crease of your elbow forward. This is external rotation, and you need to carry the movement all the way up to your shoulder joint.
The Foot on the Ground
Your bottom foot is one of the keys to the pose. If your ankle is floppy and collapses towards the ground you’ll not be able to gather much power in your legs. Instead, lift your hips really high and press the sole of your foot down. You should be nearly standing on the sole of your foot with as much of the inner edge of it down as possible. Trust me, it works!
In Ayurveda (often referred to as yoga’s "sister science") cannabis is generally viewed as something that can be useful, but here too, it’s not to be taken lightly. "In Ayurveda, cannabis would be taken as part of a remedy, not alone, or for recreational value," explains Ayurvedic practitioner and therapist Kathryn Templeton. "It’s considered a minor herb in Ayurveda. There are remedies that include cannabis mixed with counterbalancing herbs that will support stimulating digestion and removing phlegm. It’s not a common remedy, and it’s not used in countries where cannabis is illegal." Cannabis remedies have also been used for dulling pain, or to expedite herbal Ayurvedic formulas, as cannabis is sharp and heating in quality.
Cannabis is initially rajasic (agitating or over-stimulating) and with extended use, tamasic (bearing qualities of inertia and lethargy), creating mental imbalances in all dosha Prakruti (individual constitutions) with recreational use. When used without a counterbalance, marijuana is considered to be either agitating or dulling to the mind.
"The general consensus" says Templeton, "is that cannabis is initially rajasic (agitating or over-stimulating) and with extended use, tamasic (bearing qualities of inertia and lethargy), creating mental imbalances in all dosha Prakruti (individual constitutions) with recreational use."
In other words, no matter what your dosha is, from an Ayurvedic standpoint, smoking or otherwise ingesting weed for fun definitely isn’t recommended. "All plants are useful for creating balance," reminds Templeton, "but if they’re not used for balance, they create imbalance."
The Law of Detachment: In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty . . . in the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.
I will put the Law of Detachment into effect by making a commitment to take the following steps:
Daily InspirationWhen all your desires are distilled; You will cast just two votes: To love more, And be happy-- Hafiz
It’s Spring and according to Ayurveda winter is dominated by the qualities of Kapha, whose characteristics are cold, heavy, stable, dense, and viscous; this is why we find ourselves moving slower, craving heavier foods, and longing for more sleep. Just as nature is confused as to which season she belongs to, it’s common to experience an internal clash during this time as we begin to feel “spring fever” yet we’re still stuck in the energies of winter. As Yogis we seek to move with whatever sensations, emotions, or energies arise for us; trusting the wisdom of intuition and moving in harmony with her rather than resisting that which we don’t like; resistance not only creates suffering but it is a subtle assault on ourselves. Dr. Robert Svoboda, preeminent ayurvedic scholar in the west says “You retain your health only so long as you are willing to forgive your stresses, shrug off adversity and adapt to new situations. Resistance to change always impedes the workings of your immunity”.
It is wise to move with gentleness during this time of year. Allow yourself to move slowly; spend time observing nature’s spring. Remember that all re-birth comes with great struggle and effort. The practice of compassion and ahimsa towards self helps to ease the transition.
Allow yourself the pleasure of sleeping more, or engaging in quiet activities, this helps pacify aggravating qualities as we ‘die’ to this season and prepare ourselves for our new awakening.
Bhakti comes from the word “Bhaga” – generosity, sharing, distributing. The root of both Bhakti and Bhagavan (love and the Lord) is the same. So Bhakti Yoga is love as a practice of yoga – a sharing of love in all the connections we make in the world: with ourselves, in our relationships, with the world.
Bhaga also gives us one of my favourite Sanskrit words: Bhoga – to enjoy. When we fall in love, we are in a state of delight, our burdens feel lifted and joy floods though us. But at other times joy can seem illusive, belonging only to others, to the lucky. We may being passing through a period of despair where love seems truly lost.
On the surface of our lives we juggle many roles, commitments, challenges and disappointments that seem anything but joyful bhoga. And yet even in such times we find we can still laugh (if inappropriately) and be moved even as all seems bleak. Just as the sun doesn’t stop being in the sky just because the clouds obscure it, so too love and joy are never absent even when the challenges on the surface of our lives veil its presence.
When we can pause, slow down and look beneath the surface experience, then maybe we can start to see what is behind the clouds. Can we see heaven, the miraculous, in the tender beauty of a wildflower? If we can, then we can access a certain deep, mature and abiding contentment with all things just as they are. As we mediate on this deep contentment we can go deeper still to a richer, more ancient and eternal bliss. Just as the eternal presence of the sun silently witnesses the turning of history, the coming and going of fashion, drama and the generations, so too your deepest nature silently witnesses and infuses your whole being with its light. Love, bliss, benevolence – these are the substance of who you are; you have nothing to gain, you have received all this already. But do you allow it to infuse you? Truly, in every thought, word and action? This is the path of the Bhakta, the Bhakti Yogi: to live from a deep intention in life, with all its complicated interactions, with the aim of sharing and distributing from this rich foundation.
Whilst outer experiences of enjoyment (bhoga) such as the most exquisite taste, aroma or angelic face can awaken this deep abiding sense, that awoken feeling is within you and always was. We may use outer bhoga to be the catalyst for the rediscovery our lost foundation and having discovered that our very nature is this ancient and abiding bhakti it moves back out into the world through our actions and our perceptions and we start to find more and more bhoga – we see the exquisite essence of every sensation and experience as being of the same eternal nature. We become Bhagavan: the One who shares and distributes Love and Joy.
Take note of the moments of Bhoga in your life – the taste of chocolate or the experience of your favorite asana on the yoga mat and in that moment go a little deeper and find the ancient and abiding grandmother of that surface sense. Can you then find that same ancestor in the less favored flavor or asana?
Carrot & Ginger Soup Recipe
Winter is the season to be eating all those nutrient rich root vegetables. Carrots are known for their cleansing curative properties, they are rich in vitamin A, sodium, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, sulphur and magnesium.
Ingredients (organic is best):
Remove from heat, transfer into a bowl, cool a little before blending to a smooth puree. Return the soup to stove and reheat gently.
So, in a country where life is slow and simple - I have still remained busy, while seeking stillness in just being. The days are getting warmer, even though afternoon winds bring a gust and chill. So much so that roofs fly away. In keeping with Bhutanese standards of building and architecture, nails are not used in home construction. Most homes are stone, with open roofs. Roofs are held down by river rocks and chili peppers drying in the sun. Chili's comprise every dish, alongside rice and dhal. And, a local favorite dish is emadasi - chili and yak cheese. However, I will say that I had a lovely birthday dinner - which was Western standard/Bhutanese style. I enjoyed yak carpaccio and yak bolognase - I figured, why not make it a yakkity yak birthday. I regret to say that one of the biggest challenges that I have endured is finding deep sleep. The towns are full of wild dogs, and they seem to bark all night long. The locals believe that the barking dogs keep evil spirits away. Possibly, but the fact that all dogs sleep during the day - I reckon they are just bored and having fun all hours of the night. We have several cows that wander outside our doorstep - but they are very mellow, just like the Bhutanese.
I was lucky enough to experience the annual Tsechu - which is a sacred 5 day festival of dance, prayer and chanting. Most dances are to prepare you for death. Once your spirit leaves your body, it remains in Bardo. Used loosely, the term "bardo" refers to the state of existence intermediate between two lives on earth. According to tradition, after death and before one's next birth, when one's consciousness is not connected with a physical body, one experiences a variety of phenomena. These usually follow a particular sequence of degeneration from, just after death, the clearest experiences of reality of which one is spiritually capable to, and up to terrifying hallucinations arising from the impulses of one's previous unskillful actions. For the prepared and appropriately trained individuals the bardo offers a state of great opportunity for liberation, since transcendental insight may arise with the direct experience of reality, while for others it can become a place of danger as the karmically created hallucinations can impel one into a less than desirable rebirth. So, by witnessing the dancers in somewhat frightful masks - we are able to get a glimpse of what we might come across, therefore teaching one not to have fear.
Tomorrow, I take off on an 11 day tour of sacred sites of Bhutan. Feeling fortunate to see more of this magical land.
Join me as I surf the spiritual heights and bodily delights of the yoga lifestyle.