April '08 Practice Notes

A New Earth
By Mary Flinn

Some of you may be aware that Oprah is doing a workshop every Monday with Eckhart Tolle. She has over 2 million people reading his new book, “A New Earth”, in the hopes of transforming their minds and their consciousness. To have someone as influential and enthusiastic spreading this type of information is so exciting for the overall health and vitality of humanity and the planet. The world is at a point of transformation as we move into the Aquarian age. According to some yoga teachers and texts, this age is more about being enlightened and expansive than the previous age, the Piscean age. Tolle is inviting us to move beyond the judging mind and become more aware of the present moment. He suggests that one becomes more joyful and peaceful in day-to-day living while being more present in the 'Now', and not so much in the head.

It is necessary that people begin to transcend the 'gremlins' that are trying to rule the mind. Eckhart calls it the 'ego' mind. I heard a nice translation of the second verse of the yoga sutras from Jayashree and her brother, Narasimha, in Mysore, India. The verse states "Yogash Chittah Vritti Nirodaha" their translation is the focusing of our minds or the directing of our minds is yoga. Directing invites the making of a choice. Whereas the usual translation is “cessation”, I feel that this seems a little more accurate in some ways. I have an interesting experience that might clarify what I am trying to say.

On my mother’s seventieth birthday, the family decided to give her a surprise party. Fifty people were invited. Her children were all there, but in hiding until she came into the room for her party. When she came in, we said, “surprise!” She fell backwards about five feet and was totally shocked. When she caught her breath, she began to say “hello” to people and then we realized that every time she saw that person she couldn't remember having seem them before and said “hello” all over again. From time to time, she stopped and said in a whisper, "What are all of these people doing here?" We realized that something was wrong, she had short-term memory loss. Eventually we took her to the hospital for an MRI. It was very scary to see her in this state. This was a woman who was always in charge and on top of things. I came into see her as she waited resting in the hospital bed and for the first time in my life, she looked totally relaxed. She was just sitting there with a smile on her face, watching what everyone was doing without any judgment or 'words' attached to it. When I went over to her she just smiled at me and said she was feeling fine, and then asked, "Why am I here?" When I told her, she made a joke about “having an amazing surprise party and not being able to remember it”. Later that evening, my brother came over to her and held her hand. As she looked up at him, I noticed a shift in her and recognition and some of the 'concern' came back into her face. She eventually got her full memory back, but still has no recollection of any of the party or most of the hospital.

I wouldn't wish this experience on anyone, but it did seem like she had a little time out from the usual workings and craziness of the mind. She seemed able to experience without naming. The practice allows us to move into this quiet non-judgmental state when we apply our minds towards it. I have had the same sense of this 'quiet' as I sat or practiced at the feet of my teacher Shri K. Pattabhi Jois. It seemed we could feel his open heart and acceptance. This practice is 'yoga'. So the practice of Yoga can help to maintain and build this experience in our lives.

There are so many layers (if we can call them layers) between where your consciousness is now and how it goes or connects to peace. Therefore, these thoughts that pop up is a great place to start. I like to think of it as a large painting in progress. Every time someone is able to separate some of the compulsive thoughts and feel a sense of 'awareness it adds a dash of light to the painting. A dash of yellow where there was no color or light before. The whole painting gets brighter and clearer with every light bulb of awareness that shines up. The painting... the world, ultimately becomes brighter. There is a Sanskrit word for this exact moment of awareness, “Niroda Parinama” -- when we can separate our true self from the thoughts that occupy us.

On another level, new generations and others on the path can absorb this light more quickly. Each sense of revelation opens up awareness in the vibration of the world and allows others to take that wave to the next one. Perhaps this is why some younger generations have a better understanding of things that some of the older ones worked so hard to understand. Sometimes it seems as though (in the Ashtanga Yoga practice) we will need a whole new series as we see the ease with which some of the newer and younger students are flowing within the first two series. Perhaps our struggles and victories with challenging postures has opened the door to the next generation of students who are working on the same sequence under the same lineage that we as a group help to make it happen. My friend, Richard, said it like this -- when he finally bound in Marichyasana D after trying for 8 years, “it was like [he] always did it". When we see the interconnectedness of our path and choice of thought forms, we begin to do the work of awareness not only for ourselves but for everyone else too. In the same way that some of our deep healing has opened new pathways to those who follow. I began reading the Eckhart book with Oprah mostly for the fact that so many people are doing it at the same time. I want to ride that wave with everyone else.

Mary is an avid student and authorized teacher of ashtanga yoga. Please visit her website at www.maryflinn.com.

1 comment:

George said...

Reading Mary's article reminded me of a TED lecture by a neuroscientist who also experienced a stroke on the left side of her brain. Amazingly, she was able to remember the experience and now makes it a point to share with others.

Go to http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/229

There are parallels between Mary's mother's experience and this neuroscientist's. Also, as I listened to her, I couldn't help but think about the practice of yoga and what we strive for. Talk about being in the moment, and talk about feeling wonderful about life and others. Reading about Mary's mother's experience underscores those thoughts. Take a look and I think you too will be amazed.