Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hatha Yoga - a definition


Hatha Yoga refers to the physical based yoga that is predominant in the west.

Hatha Yoga includes the practices of asanas (poses), pranayama (breath control), dhyana (meditation), yama and niyama (behavior guidelines based on action and non-action).

These practices have developed over time to help students of yoga reach their goals.

The original and ultimate goal of traditional yoga is described in the word – samadhi.

As far as I can understand*, it infers union with, or a merging consciousness, with the supreme consciousness.

The supreme consciousness
The supreme consciousness is one. The goal to merge with it, infers that we are not part of it now, but after practicing the philosophy of unity (as described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras), we are able to unite with the one.

The one can be called many names, but, it is not any of these names. Labels help us to conceptualize an idea, but they can become a hindrance to understanding also.

The practices of yoga are as diverse as there are people who practice. This is the nature of humanity. We have similar goals, but we use different paths to get there. The path you take can be chosen for you (you were born into it), it can be recommended (by a guru, a friend or any out side influence), or you can try to find your own way.

All paths are valid, if the goal of unity is the same one.


The concept of unity is broad. It is, as with the practice of yoga, as diverse as there are practitioners. Your unity maybe expressed in devotion and submission to a guru. It maybe just trying to feel your body as one living whole. It maybe to merge yourself with the one consciousness (regardless of what you call that one consciousness). All practices of yoga (unity) are valid.

Asana-based yoga
Today, most of the people in the west practice hatha yoga. Although there is a growing interest and study in addressing traditional yoga goals, most people study yoga for fitness and health. This type of yoga, I call asana-based yoga.

Living yoga off the mat
On the other side of the pendulum, we have people who want to explore the very nature of yoga in all aspects of their life. This practice, I term, ‘Living yoga off the mat’.

We are all yoga practitioners. We are all drawn to some aspect of yoga. For the sake of unity, let us allow each and every one of us the same respect in their chosen path, whether its asana-based, or you have immersed yourself in the philosophy of yoga.

* I am not a scholar of Sanskrit, so rely upon other people’s translations of ancient texts.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Living Yoga Off the Mat

Yoga is Unity.

The study of yoga, is the study of unity.

When we, in the West, study yoga, we often mean that we study poses, or asanas. Asanas are a part of hatha yoga, but by no means, its entirety.

Asana based yoga focuses on learning poses, and people are often drawn to it for the positive physical effects of disciplined training. They may, at a later date, discover other positive side effects from practicing asanas.

In contrast, the concept of living yoga off the mat is taking the philosophy of yoga (its foundation stone of unity) with us, even when we roll up our mat. This concept is for people who are interested in putting the theory of unity into ‘real life’.

It includes the study of the self in relationship to itself, the family, friends, society and the world. It includes the study of unity with regards to the environment, politics, sociology, science and religion. It is, in the broadest terms, the study of the application of unity to life itself.

Unity does seem to infer the concept of integral ‘oneness’ or wholeness at some stage of existence.

However, if we are to deal with the reality of the sense of ‘self’ that we experience, the sense of our own individuality, then we need to come to an understanding of how to bridge the gap between me and you, rather than to go into further discussions about why and how we feel isolated. At this point in time, this blog needs to set some boundaries for its expression. There are many other places to discover the why and how of the individual’s sense of isolation.

This idea, of living the philosophy of yoga, is for people who already believe in the philosophy of yoga, and wish to learn, to discuss, to create and be the embodiment of their belief.

I’ll label future posts dealing with this subject as ‘off the mat’.

I created a group on facebook called 'Living Yoga Off The Mat'. If this topic seems relevant to you, consider yourself invited. You need to be signed in to facebook to access this link.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Results of the polls for July 2008

If a person is untidy with their personal belongings, do you think they are unorganised with other things as well?

45% answered sometimes.
27% answered yes.
27% answered no.

11 people answered.

If a person is, by your standard, 'over weight', does this indicate, to you, a corresponding adjective to their personality? (Such as, Homer Simpson, or Chief Wiggim).

60% answered no.
40% answered yes.
10 people answered.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Three Blogs!

The trinity.

The three is actually, just the one.

Suddenly I have three blogs. It wasn’t intentional, but somehow they have evolved, and if I am honest with myself, they represent three categories.

Patheya.blogspot – Body orientated news (body)

On being human – What I’m thinking about (mind)

The death of me – My current spiritual/philosophical outlook (spirit)

The topics are interrelated, but sometimes I’m focusing on one aspect of the self above the other.

So, if you are a reader of one of these blogs, perhaps its worth knowing about the others, just to have a better overview of what’s happening.

At this moment in time, I’m focused on my spiritual outlook to life, so the patheya.blogspot hasn’t been receiving as much attention as it once did.

The thing about life is it seems to go in cycles… so I’m sure my energy will be focused on the body again in time. I wanted to apologise to anyone who may have expected more articles and news in the patheya blogspot.

You are more than welcome to take a peek into the other blogs for a bit of interesting reading.

As always, comments welcome.

Three Blogs!

The trinity.

The three is actually, just the one.

Suddenly I have three blogs. It wasn’t intentional, but somehow they have evolved, and if I am honest with myself, they represent three categories.

Patheya.blogspot – Body orientated news (body)

On being human – What I’m thinking about (mind)

The death of me – My current spiritual/philosophical outlook (spirit)

The topics are interrelated, but sometimes I’m focusing on one aspect of the self above the other. So, if you are a reader of one of these blogs, perhaps its worth knowing about the others, just to have a better overview of what’s happening.

At this moment in time, I’m focused on my spiritual outlook to life, so the patheya.blogspot hasn’t been receiving as much attention as it once did. The thing about life is it seems to go in cycles… so I’m sure my energy will be focused on the body again in time.

I wanted to apologise to anyone who may have expected more articles and news in the patheya blogspot. You are more than welcome to take a peek into the other blogs for a bit of interesting reading.

As always, comments welcome.

That question again!

In an open inquiry I read (the letter has been edited for the sake of clarity) -

“Does God, in any form, exist?

I cannot grasp the idea of a religion.

I cannot even grasp the concept of faith, in any form.

I want to be able to grasp the idea of faith, but find it impossible.

Help clarify faith for me.

I long to understand faith or religion of any type, because knowledge alone seems pretty lonely a thing to have all my life.”

I’ve been contemplating for a few days whether to answer or not.

I’m only going to give another opinion to a person who is already confused. Sometimes, in these cases, less is more.
Finally, I woke up today, and knew I had to contribute. This is what I wrote -

“I’m touched by your concern and honest struggle. Let me ask you some questions for your consideration.

What do you mean by ‘God’? Can you explain what the term ‘god’ is, to you (not what other people say, but what you ‘think’ and ‘feel’, if there was a god)

Religion is not god. Its human’s ‘rules and rituals’ concerning their beliefs about god.

Faith – in what? What do you want to have faith in? What is it you are really seeking?

The only proof of ‘faith’ that you need is your own existence. You are a manifestation, of something. What is that something? Where does it come from? How can we discover it?

The questions – and the answer?

The micro-macro theory helps. It’s a system that suggests we look at the one, so that we can see the all. The laws of nature – at a miniscule level… and thus, the fascination of quantum physics by open minded spiritual seekers.

This is only a little step. But guess what?

Even though the Buddha came up with the eightfold path, you know what he did to become enlightened?

He sat under a tree and said ‘I’ve been searching and searching for the answer. I’m still no closer to the truth. I give up. I’m going to sit here and meditate until I find the answer.’ He gave up searching, and just ‘existed’. And then, bang. “

As always, comments welcome.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Who am I to tell you how to be human?

I’ve been consciously studying ‘how to be human’ for since 1985.
I was 14. I'd just received a call from my parents telling me that they wanted to be together, without me, so from now on, I now lived with my grandparents. Say what you like, it was the best thing that every happened to me. It was the first grand attack on my value system and forced me to face myself and my beliefs at an early age.

It began as the study of survival.

My survival.

Know thyself – According to Pausanias, these words were inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

Seek and ye shall find – attributed to Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospel according to Mathew

The cause of all pain and suffering is ignorance - attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, The Buddha

Patience, discipline, strength – words I came across while studying Qigong

These words have been the pillars of rest and contemplation in between my moments of chaotic searching.

So I started my adult life cut off from human society.

I feared people.

I was afraid, vulnerable, secretive, unhappy, self condemning, judgmental, selfish, arrogant, disdainful, bored, uncaring, in pain, alone, cut off, ostracized, vindictive, ignorant, critical, hateful, and scornful.

I was afraid of people, of dying, of the future, of the past, of another's opinion, of the ruin of the environment, of societies view of me, of other’s judgment of me, of being poor, of my parent's alcoholic and anti-social life style.

I was vulnerable because I imagined the world considered me as less – it made me sensitive to criticism, snubs, blank faces, negative interpretation, conspiracy theories – my self image was poor, I felt ugly, plain, I felt worthless.

I was necessarily secretive because I felt that nobody would understand what I was going through. Nobody had parents who drank, that stole from the rest of society, that were poor, and sometimes rich.

Everything I have discovered, from this point of pain and rejection, everything about ‘being human’ comes from my experiences.
I didn’t feel human before. And I wanted to become human. I wanted to discover what it meant to be human.

I am a living experiment.

I am a product of my exploration of what it means to be human.

And then I realised, that I am you, and you are me. And all of this 'me' talk, was actually about us. You, my brothers and sisters. Its about us, and how to manage our life together.

There are many points to consider. Social, political, economic, spiritual, educational, environmental. But first and foremost, all dialogue begins with you and with me.
Much love.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My relationship the symbol of ANZAC

“My relationship to the ANZAC” in response to the question ‘what is the meaning of ANZAC to you personally?’

Its not so simple. Its all tied up to a certain ‘coming of age’ experience I’ve been avoiding for most of my life.

For more details of what happened, you can read it here –

Basically, after running for 35 years of my life, I discovered another shade to the meaning of responsibility.

I wanted to engage in an aware, responsible, adult relationship with my country. I wanted to become a contributing member of our society. Someone who put their action where there bad tempered mumbling once was.

Though, when it came to the idea of ANZAC, I had to revise what I had previously thought.

I remember marching when I was under 6, drumming in the early morning parade for the local RSL. You had to be quiet for a whole minute. And stock still. While the drum sticks wanted to keep drumming.

I recoiled from ANZAC day parades as I grew older, seeing them as a celebration and reminder of aspects of white Australia that I didn’t like.

Racism, aggression, short sightedness, ignorance, blindly being pawns of political power, mindless Aussie cheering, arrogance united with stupidity.

Here I am, on my rediscovery of Australia, ready to reveal a new meaning for ANZAC day.

I don’t want to take away from the past. I want to try to understand, in the context of the times, the motivation, the patriotism, and the feelings of sacrifice associated with war. I don’t want to judge people for what has happened. I just want to say I remember, I’m sorry for it, it’s a SHARED history and it has made our present. We need to learn from the past and forge a new path to move into the future.

We were in the Cloncurry Library when I picked up a book entitled The Last ANZAC’s. Lest we forget, written and photographed by Tony Stephens and Steven Stewert. In it, I read words that gave me hope and inspired me to write positively of my new understanding of ANZAC day.

The Last ANZAC’s.

Doug Dibley ‘It does deem to be to be a peculiar world in which we live when we can not think of any other way of settling disputes, without murdering one another.’

Tom Epps ‘The are not days about the glory of war or about Nationalism, but a lesson in the futility of war. I was brainless, but I’m not sorry I went. It taught me how stupid the politicians and military can be. They were boneheads. The 1914-18 war was a mass murder. 99% of war is stupid.’

‘If there is no other way of settling arguments, the human race should be exterminated.’

Roy Kyle ‘Empires come and go. Enemies become friends, friends become enemies. Everything changes. Little lasts.’

Roy Longmore ‘They’re no good, these wars. A lot of lives lost, no use at all. There’s got to be another way of fixing up these rows without killing each other.’

Ted Mathews (famously) ‘Some people call us ‘five-bob-a-day’ murderers, but the politicians were the murderers. Politicians make up the wars. They don’t go to them.’

Jack Buntime – His ‘early life taught him the value of the family’.

Alec Campbell – He ‘insisted that all his children receive good educations and grow up to think for them selves’.

Just as a child grows, so does a country. Just as we mimic our elders, so does the country look to older models as a guide on how to be a nation. And just as the child grows into adult hood and develops the need to express itself in its own way, so does the people of each country. And we have the voice. We have the freedom, if we choose it, to learn from the mistakes of the past, and to create a new way of ‘settling arguments’, ‘fixing up rows’, ‘settling disputes’.

We can learn. We can shake our head to our parents and say, no, I don’t want to follow your footsteps any more. Our parents might threaten us, they might bully us, they might take away our privileges, but it’s the right of a growing nation to take the blows happily, knowing that every step it takes in a new direction, on its own, it gains freedom and learning and respect.

Its ok to admit we were wrong. Its ok to start again, to try again, and make it better this time.

But learn from the past we must. Don’t let their lives be a waste. Learn from what they have said. Find new ways to talk about our differences.

And it starts with you. And with me. Violence in the home, in the school yard, in the work place, in the pubs. Commit to ‘another way’ to settle arguments. Explore channels of communication. What works? What doesn’t? How many people have to die because they should learn their lesson?

Their history is our history, weather we take heed of it or not. I just want to say I acknowledge what went on, and I’m sorry for it. Our combined understanding and voice can make a difference.

The above was written as a response to a personal query I received. I have used edited material from a previous post I wrote earlier this year.

Passion and Ration

Some guidelines for dealing with the passion with a dash of ration.

“The unfortunate thing about passionate subjects such as patriotism is that some people can tend to become defensive if they perceive their values are being attacked.” *

Let’s admit it. We want everyone to agree with us and to believe what we say without criticism.

Then we get a little more experience, and discover that the ideals and the beliefs we held so dear when we were teenagers, have, thankfully, been toned down with experience and a better understanding of the complexities of life.

Age is a high price to pay for maturity.

Some points to consider before engaging in discussion

1) Are you offering your opinions so that other people can discuss them?

2) Do you just want to have your say?

3) Will you be offended if someone disagrees with you, or offers another opinion?

4) Why are you on a group called ‘debate’, if you just want to shout from a megaphone?

5) ? I’m sure there are lots of other points and you are welcome to point them out.

What are values?

Values are the things we hold dear to us. They are valuable. They are the words we say when we see our friends and family in dire straights, when we see injustice on the TV and we suffer over because often, they don’t really mirror the reality of the world we live in.

Values undergo change, depending on how much money we have, depending on how much we want it, depending on what our friends think, depending on what era we are born in, depending on, well, many things.

If values can change so much, where is the inherent truth in them, and why do we give them so much importance?

If we can perceive our values are attacked, we become defensive. Its true, isn’t it? So, if we know, that our values have changed in our own life time, and would have changed depending on if we were born a Turk, or born a German Jew in 1925, if you were born in any one else’s shoes other than your own, then… we can see that there are many things that can attack our value system, and no wonder we feel so defensive all of the time. Because everything is challenging us all of the time. Isn’t it?

So, how can we win?

By being aware. By being tolerant, and realizing that not everything can be won by screaming. Screaming it louder than anyone else doesn’t make it right. It just makes it annoying.

Discussion, where there is a civil volley of response, is ideal. Sometimes I serve, some times you serve. Sometimes you floor me with an ace, and sometimes I bamboozle you with technique. Its all ok. Its just words.

Remember, you can’t shake hands with a clenched fist.

Comments welcome.

* Written to me in private correspondance

Monday, July 7, 2008

How I lost my innocence

For some reason, I knew that traveling around Australia was going to be the breaking point for me. Perhaps that’s why I left 12 years ago – to avoid the mantle of responsibility.

I’ve traveled around little pockets of the world, but I didn’t see how its existence was my concern. It existed before me. It was doing its thing without any interference from me. I was just taking a look.

I’ve heard the stereotypes about Australia. The legend of Steve Irwin. The horror of our creepy crawlies. The wonder of Kylie. Aussie girls rule. Oh, and aren’t we a racist lot?

I keep trying to pin point the exact moment everything fell apart. The sudden jolt of awareness that shifted my perspective and destroyed my unadulterated joy in shopping, in music, in eating, in driving in a car, in relationships, in the meaning of life and the purpose of my existence.

Of course, there is not just one point… the more I look at it, I can see the seed being sown some 20 years before. The seed has just outgrown its case and needed a different nutrient for its growth.

About two months ago, I read an essay written by Edmund Burke. In it, I read these words

‘society is indeed a contract …. It is not a partnership in things subservient only to the gross animal existence of a temporary and perishable nature. It is a partnership in all art; a partnership in all virtue, and in all perfection..... each contract of each particular state is but a clause in the great primeval contract of eternal society, linking the lower with the higher natures, connecting the visible and invisible world…..’

I threw the book down. I felt my head burning. I turned to my partner and started yelling obscenities because I felt abused, robbed, shocked and outraged.

I was reading Burke because C.W. Parkin wrote ‘Burke … believes that the world is a unity, that society, for all its complexity, its heights and depths, forms part of a harmony of nature.’

I’m researching members of the different educational disciplines who view our world through the perspective of unity.

A great part of life consists in contemplating what we cannot
cure. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Burke’s words horrified me. To my way of thinking, it was inferring that the unwritten contract, that I was even unaware of, existed between me and the society I was, errr, mostly a bored, and at most, a disdainful observer and occasional mumble-complainer.

Me? In a contract with society? A relationship existed between us? An unwritten contract? Something that was just a given? Passed on from generation to generation? Why didn’t somebody spell this out to me? I spoke to my mother, and do you know what she said?

‘I don’t understand what you mean. If its not a written contract, its not worth the paper its written on. You can’t even tear it up. You’re talking tommy rot and you’ve been taken for a ride.’

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth. ~Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum

I look at her with a feeling of doom, I take a breath, and I explain the idea of an unwritten contract in words I hope she will understand. The ‘taking for granted’ of certain things in personal relationships. The unspoken rules in relationships governing mother and child, father and son, mate and mate’s girlfriend. Maybe we don’t speak about so often, and usually its not written down, but the ‘rules’ exist. The contract between you and your spouse, or you and your parents exist weather its written or not.

And the idea of validating an unwritten contract between myself and society just hadn’t occurred to me before.

It knocked my socks off.

If your eyes are open, and you suddenly see what you couldn’t before, do you just ignore it and keep doing what you were doing before, or do you throw in the towel and stand up to the line?

Throw in the towel of ignorance is what.

Stand up to the line of responsibility is what.

It reminded me of the moment I knew, for sure, that I was pregnant. I’d never liked children and thought of them as repulsive little snot filled terrorists. But when the double stroke glowed that vomit inducing pale pink, there wasn’t, for me, a moment to contemplate ‘ignoring it’. I couldn’t. My life changed for ever. My attitude changed for ever. I could no longer be as selfish as I was. It was a foul swing at my short sighted selfishness and cured me of some stupidity. But it was tough at the time. I felt I’d ridden up against a brick wall.

Now it seems I’m ready to go the next step into the wider world. Me and society.

Stepping up to the line. Accepting responsibility for my half of the contract.

I’m still pulling at the bit. I’m still trying to find the balance between my sense of duty to what I feel I have discovered and just wanting to toss it all aside and live in Thailand somewhere getting massages and swimming in pristine waters… What am I doing? Why do I care?
And this brings us back to the first seed, and the beginning of everything.

I was 14 when I was left with my grandparents for a holiday. Two weeks later, my step mother calls me and tells me over the phone that now I’m living with my grandparents.

The grand illusion of childhood is that your parents, no matter what they do, are right and good and, this is important, know what they are doing. That is, that they are conscious of what they are doing.

We all know that we don’t know what we are doing, but a child probably feels safer if they believe we are some sort of semi-god.

All of us suffer disillusionment in stages we’re not conscious of, or in one giant dive.

I couldn’t maintain the illusion any more. I lay in my fold up bed in the lounge of my grandparent’s house and bit by bit, all of the repressed information I had about my parents burst upon me in a flood.

The one thing I judged them on, and am still their greatest critic, is their lack of responsibility. So, of course, if I judge another for not being responsible, how, if I am faced with information that increases my responsibility to the world, can I ignore it?

For me, its impossible.

So here I am. Signing, in my own way, my side of the unwritten contract between me and society.

I wonder if society knows what it has unleashed?

I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I'm not absolutely sure of anything, and many things I don't know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we're here, and what the question might mean. I might think about it a little bit, but if I can't figure it out, then I go on to something else. But I don't have to know an answer.... I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell, possibly. It doesn't frighten me. ~Richard Phillips Feynman

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Why do we need to control our emotions?

‘But I want to feel alive. I want to feel the emotions course through me. I want to be taken away.’

The Chinese doctor shook his head, almost imperceptibly pursed his lips, handed me some herbs and shooed me out the door.

I think of that moment with a mixture of amusement, disbelief and embarrassment.

Amused with my youthful insistence on defending the rights of uncontrolled emotional impulses.

Disbelief that I could be so naïve.

Embarrassment that I didn’t take shut my mouth and just listen.

I had booked the appointment with the doctor because I was suffering migraines. I was 17 and dependant on anti-depressants and prescription headache prevention tablets. I was taking 4 different tablets a day.

I knew that I was in a bad state, at such an age, and I wanted an alternative.
But when I went in for advice, I didn’t listen. I just defended my own choices stubbornly.

So, what have I learnt in the last 20 years?

Why is control of our emotions important?

Generally speaking, we can put the emotions into two groups. Emotions that enhance our feelings of wellbeing, and emotions that destroy our feelings of wellbeing.

Enhancers Destroyers

Happiness Sadness
Delight Dissatisfaction

Then, we can think of emotions that enhance our wellbeing of the moment, but later on, we feel regretful and often curse our stupidity. There are examples to the contrary, but they are a handful compared to the majority of stories I have heard.

Positive Emotions that usually fall through with time
- In love sensations
- Excitement linked to gambling, drugs, any obsessive behaviour.
- Patriotism when inspired by a moving speech but time shows was just a vote catcher.
- Happiness related to retail therapy

Now while we can never be really sure about the final outcome of the emotions we are experiencing, experience guides us to take it easy, and not follow your heart in all cases.

Sometimes there are emotions that make us feel bad at the moment, but after some time, the effects of that emotion actually enhance our life quality.

Emotions that destroy us temporarily, and can lead to life enhancement
- Guilt
- Regret
- Embarrassment
- Hitting rock bottom leaves us only one place to go (if we do not give into the temptation of suicide) – up
- Anger

Again, its about exercising some control, some ration, some wisdom.

Every situation is different, but if we don’t temper our emotions with the learnings of our experience, then we remain a victim of our emotional swings.

Emotions can be wonderful to ride them at the moment, and they can cause us deep regret.

Observing our emotions, understanding our triggers and endeavoring to exhibit some control is, in my opinion, the necessary work of responsible people aware of the importance of relationships and communication.

A great story about anger -

I’d rather lose hate than weight -