Category Archives: Alternative Health & Yoga

I am Shiva this world is Shakti

When we say that our true self is Shiva, we are not talking about this self that is body, mind; limiter and ceaselessly changing. This I who is Shiva is the unchanging universal soul which is being expressed not just in this body, but in all bodies as an individual soul. This “I” is the eternal subject. We cannot change what is not subject to change; we cannot purify that which is already pure. There is light, we can see, we are and we exist; this is only subject to acceptance, not change. This topic is hardly even amenable to contemplation. If we can’t even imagine it, it’s best we don’t even consider changing it.

Everything outside of the scope of the Shiva soul is Shakti: our mind and body and all that can be perceived by the senses at any moment. This is the eternal other. Many of us would like to change this. We think we are the body and have control over our body and mind and seek to make changes here, but the truth is that we are all fools. This coming together of soul (Shiva), body and mind (Shakti) is the divine play that we are advised to approach as a witness. This is the field of karma; the interplay between subject and object. We have no freedom here.

But where are we free? Where can we affect change?

In our relationship between the subject and object; in the way we relate not only to the world, but to our own bodies. How do we use what we have to reach out to the world?! This starts with how we relate without own body, our own mind.

We are born from a mother and a father. We had and have no control over this time and place we find ourselves. Even our will is the will of god. If I trace back the origin of this yoga or astrology I practice, or even this writing I am doing now, it all comes back to a will, an innate propensity towards these things. In other words, I didn’t do anything to have any of this; it was freely given to me at birth (all the benefits and all the defects).

This is one of the primary mistakes that most western yogis are making. They think they are the yogi and they pat themselves on the back for the good job they are doing. They do not accept the gift of their body and physical conditioning; they think they are the architect. Small “i” with small minds; they have not even begun to imagine what truth might be. They go around saying how blessed they are without recognizing that every sentient being is equally blessed. They base their blessing on the ever changing material reality; their blessing is not likely to get them thru bad weather as they begin to ask why such a curse. ‘To be’ is to be blessed; to not recognize this is the curse.

When we focus on our relationships with things there is little outward change to be recognized, but inside we will feel it just like we feel anger or sadness or frustration; we will feel peace; we will feel the blessing of existence in every moment thru good times and bad. And this is the sort of change people are really looking for; this is the sort of change that changes everything.

 

 

Ideology

4a1f5-dsc_1055-version2-2009-12-20at09-55-19The main project of yoga is to ground us in reality so that we might be aware of the experience of truth. The truth is now; in the present moment. There is not other reality. The past and the future are merely mirages in the distance. We cannot be sure of either, though on some level, everything that takes form in nature or in our minds has some level of truth to it. As yogis our task is to recognize the truth and keep our awareness fixed there.

This is one of the primary differences between what I would call authentic yoga and and inauthentic yoga; between modern branded yoga and traditional lineage yoga. This is the difference between idealism and reality. You cannot get to reality thru idealism; that’s the first thing that needs to be dropped. Ideology is the mask we hide behind; a popular belief we profess in order to avoid the real work of unmasking ourselves so that we might recognize reality. We cannot even begin to see ourselves thru ideology for it only reflects our fears.

Reality is here and now, naked and vulnerable; a lamb before god. Once one understands that we are always and everywhere at the mercy of time and space, then we can rise above the fear and trembling that keeps so many cowering and gasping to their ideals like a tattered security blanket unable to face the natural rhythms of life and death.

Narmada Pilgrimage: Begins February 28, 2019

February 28 – March 19, 2019

Delhi – Agra – Orchha – Maheshwar – Varanasi – Omkareshwar – Amarkantak

India has a great culture of wandering sadhus who have cut themselves away from the mainstream society, organized religion, and material dependence. You will not find them in Rishikesh or Varanasi or any of the cities so full of corruption and noise; they will be in the peace of the forest. They will be in the cities too, but you will not easily find them.

Pilgrimage with Mike Holliday takes us thru key locations along the Narmada river valley as we meet with Sadhus, stay in Ashrams, walk with the pilgrims, while practicing yoga, leaning traditional Vedic Sciences and delving deep into the philosophy. This may also feel like an adventure pilgrimage as we get close to the locals and experience the beauty of rural India.

Trip Includes:

  • 19 nights in ashrams & guest houses around central India
  • Transportation within India
  • Extra guides when appropriate
  • Yoga instruction
  • Astrological consultations

Trip highlights

  • Meditation & Yoga at the Gayatri Ashram on Omkareshwar Island
  • Walking the forests and ancient temples Amarkantak
  • The vibrant intensity of Varanasi
  • Philosophical talks by Mike
  • Experiencing the heart of India far from the typical tourist trails

Note: This trip is partly designed as an Introduction to off the beaten path travel in India. we will travel and live simply as we look behind the myths and the masks that we mistake for reality. We will be walking extensively, living simply (meaning beds and toilets may meet western expectations) and facing cultural expectations much different than our own.

Clothing should be culturally appropriate for ashram living.

This package does not include:

  • flight to and from India
  • Additional travel within India
  • Spending money
  • Personal meals and transport
  • India Visa
  • Vaccinations

Cost: $1950

Mike Holliday has traveled and studied extensively around India as a solo traveler, adventurer, yogi, pilgrim. He began teaching in earnest in Varanasi India around 2012 at the insistence of his teacher due to students who had begun showing up. He led his first pilgrimage in 2018.

Contact: holliday.michael@gmail.com

Pilgrimage to the Heart of India 2018

19 day pilgrimage to Varanasi, Omkareshwar, Ellora & Ajanta Caves, Maheshwar, Mandu and Indore

20 November – 8 December 2018

Dear Friends,

It’s about time I bring a group of friends to see some of my favorite pilgrimage places in India: Varanasi, Shiva city, the spiritual centre of India famous for tantra and pilgrimage; Omkareshwar and Maheshwar on the Narmada river are major centres of the 3.5 year pilgrimage that sees a steady stream of devotion. Ellora and Ajanta are both ancient monuments of devotion and wonder. We will make a stop by Mandu for a day of cycling, frivolity and wandering thru villages and Mugul ruins scattered across the country side. The final stop will be in Indore to visit a couple important tantric temples and enjoy the comforts of the city before going our separate ways.

The trip will include:

  • Land travel within India, most meals, room, guided tours, yoga & astrology
  • Traditional Hatha Yoga practice including asana, pranayama, mantra, meditation. Bhakti, Raja, Hatha, Jnana, Tantra  and Kundalini yogas will all find expression over the course of this trip.
  • A detailed Vedic Astrology reading and remedy coaching.
  • Six nights in a simple, traditional forest ashram over-looking the  holy Narmada river
  • Five nights in Varanasi over looking the Holy Ganges river
  • A small group of six allows for deep integration of the practices and teachings.
  • Excellent introduction to India for those who wish to continue traveling the country
  • A unique yoga pilgrimage
  • Deep introduction to yogic philosophy and Vedic way of life.
  • Suitable for anyone who is a pilgrim at heart. No prior knowledge or experience is necessary. Sincerity towards the method is the most important attribute.

Basic Itinerary

20 November – 8 December 2018

20 November 2018: Arrival in Varanasi, rest, short evening yoga and meditation next to the river.

While in Varanasi: Morning yoga, site-seeing tours, boat rides, lots of free time, meeting Shiva devotees, astrology charts will be completed for each person.

25 November: Train to Khandwa; bus to Omkareshwar, take rest and get settled at the Gayatri Forest Ashram, easy evening yoga and meditation.

While in Omkareshwar: Two yoga classes per day. Learning traditional stories, parikrama (walk) around the island,  visiting important pilgrimage sites, pilgrims and sadhus. Spending time in nature, swimming, enjoying.

02 December: Jeep to Ajanta. While in Ellora/Ajanta trip we will take our yoga where we can get it. There is often an opportunity to practice among the caves.

03 December: Jeep to Ellora and then to Maheshwar, take rest, get settled in the guest house.

While in Maheshwar: One to two yoga classes per day, visiting special holy sites, boating, swimming, meeting pilgrims, singing, & enjoying nature.

07 December: Jeep to Mandu, cycling/site-seeing, and then jeep to Indore.

08 December: Visit Mahakala and Bhairava temple before departure. The tour will end on this day and departures will go from Indore.

  • Note: let us know if we can help to arrange transport and lodging before and after the trip.

By the end of this trip participants will have gained deep knowledge of Yogic, Vedic and Tantric practice and lifestyle. One will have gained an appreciation for simple, prayerful living and will have a good foundation to continue a personal sadhana (spiritual practice). You will also gain valuable travel experience and a deep humanistic education as we travel on and off the tourist trail thru the heart of India.

Anyone with a sincere desire for self knowledge thru yoga and traditional knowledge are welcome. Yoga classes are easily modified to be accessible to everyone as well as challenging for every level of fitness and concentration. Much of the philosophical content will be organic (arising from the circumstances and questions) so this too will be both accessible and challenging for most anyone.

India can be a challenging country and we will be living very simply as pilgrims ourselves for parts of trip. This simplicity of nature will hopefully counterbalance the sensory and emotional over-load that Delhi and Varanasi are known for in different ways. Travel can be slow and frustrating (most times) and there will a few arduous days of travel, lots of walking, and a group of eight people traveling and living together for 19 days (18 nights). We hope that lots of free time, optional tours and practices, and flexibility by everyone, will allow everyone to get the flavour they are seeking from life.


This package tour includes:

  1. 19 days/18 nights in various guest houses and ashrams may be shared occupancy
  2. Many meals, lots of chai and snacks
  3. Transportation
  4. Vedic Astrology consultation.
  5. Classical Hatha Yoga classes
  6. Guide fees
  7. Additional administrative fees, organization costs, booking fees, travel expenses, baksheesh & diksha donations to temples, pilgrims and ashrams in the name of the group

Total cost: 

  • $1950. A $600 deposit will hold this space for you

Stipulations

  • Limited to six people. Must have at least 4 people signed up by October 1 for the trip to proceed. Full refunds will be given if it’s cancelled for this reason. I expect it will sell out fast.
  • One place will have preference for someone with knowledge in Ayurveda and/or Jyotish and would like to do a mentorship in astrology over the 19 days of this pilgrimage.
  • Unless your seat can be sold to someone else we may only be able to refund 50% of the fee in case of cancellation. There will be an administrative fee retained in any case, but we look vary favorably upon those who find someone to fill their place for them.
  • Bring a friend and save $100 each (not available for early bird pricing). Bring two or more friends and save $200 while each of them save $100.

What is not included, and why?

  • Many meals, snacks and chai throughout the day since you will be on your own.
  • Baksheesh, diksha payments, tips to temples monks, sadhus and service people which are best given by your own heart & hand
  • Flight to India, travel insurance, immunizations are all your responsibility.
  • Souvenirs, personal items, personal travel or personal entertainment.
  • No certificates will be available as this pilgrimage is meant to be a personal healing, learning & potentially transformational journey. If you want a certificate, go to Rishikesh.
  • If you are unsure about what may or may not be included, please ask before departure.

Your host and guide:

Mike Holliday has had a deep spiritual and personal connection with Varanasi, Ganga & Narmada since 2007. He has been teaching yoga around the world for almost ten years and offering philosophical/spiritual coaching and counsel for over half that time. He has guided many people thru Varanasi and well as thru Indian culture and a few have even come to experience the magic of the Narmada river with him. He is an engaging teacher and story teller; a very knowledgeable guide thru the unknown; a sincere, grounded friend and adviser & he has a strong passion for sharing traditional knowledge. He is an off the beaten path teacher who mostly follows orthodoxy but does not not believe it is necessary.

For more information:

  • holliday.michael@gmail.com

Remedial measures, Meditation and the 12th house

One of the most important things we have to keep in mind when we are offering remedies is: Will the client follow the remedy? No matter how good the medicine might work, it’s useless if the client will not follow it. But if we can find remedies that the client understands and has faith in, then they will be much better served, even by an inferior remedy.

I will discuss some of the common remedies and how we can make them suitable for the individual who is in front of us looking for ways to improve their life.

A complete practice of yoga, tantra and kriya with complete devotion in God (otherwise known as ones own infinite nature) is the best remedy for anyone to improve the quality and quantity of their life. However, not everyone is equally inclined and it would be a pretty boring world if we were. With such a wonderful diversity of humans wandering this earth, there is an equally diverse amount of remedial measures; none of which are created equally for everyone.

The secret to the efficacy of any remedy come from the the faith that it will work along with the dedication to following the prescribed activity (resonance). The faith comes from within; from our knowledge and beliefs and how well they match with with the remedy and/or the healer. Faith as understood here is not the blind faith of dogmatism; faith is rather built up thru clear discrimination & personal experience. Faith come only after we have done everything we can for ourselves. We give 100% of ourselves (the combined powers of the body, mind & spirit) and and in return we gain faith. Every spiritual path teaches that if we give everything we have as individuals, then we will be given this whole universe. This teaching does not refer to our material possessions, what we have on the outside, but rather to our internal reality. To receive such blessings we need to focus our will: 100%; focus our knowledge: 100% & focus our activity: 100%. If one is capable of such one-pointed focus then they have already learned that material wealth is actually immaterial.

This principle applies to all healing and all remedies, not just esoteric remedies of yoga and astrology. If you do not have faith and follow thru with your doctors prescription it is not likely to work for you any better than not doing your yoga practices. Research into surgery also suggests that the effectiveness of the procedure has as much to do with the individual on the operating table as it does with the technique the, surgeon or the surgery. Whatever remedy we are given we have to follow it correctly. In order to do this we have to have faith in the remedy, combined with the discrimination that allows us to have faith in the doctor or astrologer who is prescribing the remedy; to say nothing about having faith in our own ability to heal and to change.

Meditation

The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali are really more about what we call meditation and less to do with what most people recognize as yoga these days. Of course meditation should be a central part of the yoga practice all the way thru, but you wouldn’t know that by attending yoga classes in the west that might set aside a few minutes for meditation at the beginning or the end of class.

Meditation is the one thing that scientist and spiritualists can agree on to improve the quality and quantity of ones life. Of course there is not one correct way to meditate. Even within a single spiritual tradition there are numerous methods of meditation. Vijnana Bhairava list 112 different forms of meditation. These are the techniques that are typically accepted in Shaivist Tantra lineages. Buddhism has a whole lists of their own meditations, as does Christianity and Islam and the others.

With so many different forms of meditation going around, as Astrologers (Yoga teachers or Ayurvedic practitioners) we need to be able to offer our clients more direction than merely telling them to meditate. We have to be able to direct them along that path of meditation and suggest ways they might follow for the greatest success in their meditation practice. We might also give them some idea as to what they might expect and experience when they begin meditation practice. Of course, if they have a heavily afflicted 12th house they might want ensure that they have they proper support and atmosphere before beginning their meditation practice as they are sure to face difficulties.

Meditation and Charitable Remedies for the 12th House

The 12th house is the voice of our ancestors, our subconscious mind, our meditation and the kind of sanctuary or enclosure we are most comfortable. 12th house describes our sleep, our bedroom behaviour, how we are behind closed doors & and how we retreat from the world. This is were we de-materialize in order to connect with parallel worlds. We get loss, liberation & moksha in the 12th house.

When I write about meditation in the 12th house I am very specifically referring to that meditation which allows for spiritual liberation. Those who have a strong focus on material gain in life might find it easier to offer charity to these 12th house spirits & rulers. I have included advice on using charitable donations to ease the difficulties of the the 12th house.

Sun

Sun influencing the 12th house will bring ones personal creativity into the back room. Meditation can be very good for these people as the Sun in 12th often relates with lower self esteem in the public realm, but allows their creative intelligence to shine in private sanctuary spaces (in their bedroom; in the ashram). On the other hand, Sun in 12th suggest a diminished ego which can be beneficial for sequestered spiritual life (ashram life). If Sun is well placed here they can attain a central place in the ashram or monastery. They are best left alone for meditation; a super star in their own world. One the other hand, the Sun can cause one to feel some pressure to meditate which can disrupt the meditative experience. Meditation of the universal self or the universal egoity can be effective; trataka or other kinds of one pointed focus (especially on a candle flame or the Sun). One might also want to look into the morning ritual of agni-hotra. Sunrise sun salutations can also be very good. One should also be aware of their contact with the ground and push into it to stand tall or sit tall. Essentially we want our losses to go to the Sun in beneficial ways.

Charity should be offered to leadership events and training, government sponsored programs, charitable events sponsored by ones boss, burn wards of the hospital.

Moon

Moon in 12th house can give occasional meditation, but their practice will be heavily influenced by the movement (waxing & waning) of the moon. Where the moon sits is where we are comfortable so these people are typically comfortable in an ashram setting, foreign place, or in some kind of seclusion. So even if they are not making meditation they will very likely be fairly reflective people and may go away from their family. They will likely have a longing for greater (emotional) connection with their subconscious mind, their ancestral past, and those activities which liberate. This can be quite a spiritual placement if other indications point that way. Meditation on or near water can be very good. One may wish to mediate upon the mother goddesses. Reflection upon ones own emotions can also be a beneficial meditation. It might be difficult to follow a single meditative practice as one will more likely follow their emotions in this area of their lives.

Charity by time or money should go toward orphanages (especially for young girls), parenting programs, cultural events, building wells or other methods of providing safe, clean drinking water as well as programs that focus on the removal or cleaning of wastewater (especially Moon in Scorpio in the 12th) or providing comfort to foreigners.

Mars

Mars is typically the last planet we think about when we think meditation. He’s energy can be difficult to work with in classical sitting meditations. Mars in the 12th house gets moksha thru movement and action and overcoming some challenge; not exactly what you think of when you think about meditation, but Mars can get very nice repose/liberation after conquering some inner battle or competition. Mars likes to feel like he’s risen to the challenge and overcome. Many of the Yogis I work with in Canada have some Mars influence on 12th house combining movement with meditation. His aspect on the 3rd house from here gives courage & on 6th house allows them to take action (especially exercise) to overcome their obstacles. Of course, Mars must be a beneficial planet in their chart.

Modern postural yoga isn’t the only way to meditate with Mars influencing the 12th house. Walking meditation in a scene set by the sign in the 12th house can also be very good. Jupiter’s aspect can help by giving Mars something to believe in, and in some conditions an aspect from the Moon can cool him. Moon and Mars in angles from each other are said to be very powerful spiritual placement. (Especially in women, but men too, Moon in 6th can give foreign husband and foreign lovers.)

Unless Saturn is involved somehow, Mars will not like to follow the same practice all the time which is why a Jupiter aspect can keep Mars from wasting too much time roaming; he likes both direct action (Aries) and in-direct action (Scorpio). He works best within a structured environment (Capricorn) to focus his drive.

Trekking in the areas indicated by rasi can be very beneficial as can retreat centres which offer various activities (determined by rasi, as well as aspecting and tenanting graha). If this Mars tenants the 12th or the 6th house, this person may appreciate the healing benefits of yoga and exercise. Mars in the 9th house aspects the 12th house which can make a spiritual warrior willing to fight for their beliefs. The 9th house will bring some influence of the wisdom culture into their action even in Jupiter is not involved.

Those with Mars in the 12th can connect to their sense of loss and their own subconscious motivations by offering time or money to charities involved with sports, blood banks, engineering projects; one might alos like to give their time cooking for charitable purposes and perhaps one will even come to manage charities. With a well placed Mars in the 12th house one can become very active in charitable events. One may offer their charitable time as a coach or offer donations to support coaches.

Mercury

Mercury is a communicator. If other things point towards meditation Mercury in the 12th house will talk (communicate) about meditation and alternative realities as the voice from the beyond, but the content of Mercury’s communication is based on the influences upon him rather than his own initiative. This Mercury typically has easy access to the subconscious mind which can be beneficial if those spirits from parallel lives are benefic; but if this is not the case and Mercury is experiencing heavy affliction here then one might just as likely go crazy. From a meditation perspective Mercury likes logical analysis, studying, reading, listening when he’s in the 12th house sanctuary space. Mantra meditation might be effective. Concentration, contemplation, or systematically going over the 4, 11, 25 or 36 tattva in ones mind will bring a strong 12th house Mercury great satisfaction, mental peace and moksha. Journaling can also be very freeing for this Mercury

Those with Mercury in the 12th house should offer much support for educational opportunities and to students; summer camps or other types of education which can be fun and games. One should also offer their time and money to literacy programs.

Jupiter

Jupiter’s influence on the 12th house will expand our mind and one will seek and gain wisdom thru meditation. This is an excellent placement for meditation and spiritual life. If this Jupiter is in the 8th house, aspecting the 12th, one may follow tantric techniques of meditation (or as a means to access parallel lives, alternate realities, or other dimensions or lokas). The native may undergo numerous changes in life as many different ancestor guides seek to support deep transformative healing. When Jupiter aspects the 12th house from the 4th house one gets abundant comforts including those of meditative sanctuary. They are likely to have a strong foundation of humanistic or spiritual education. A strong Jupiter in 12th can lead to wisdom priestly roles in the ashram. They will seek moksha thru wisdom, knowledge & expansion. As strong Jupiter here is not likely to need much direction for meditation as their sense of discrimination will be especially strong in this area of their lives.

Those with Jupiter in the 12th house are generally very charitable and have a natural affinity for ashrams, monasteries and those secluded places that emphasis higher spiritual knowledge. These people are often jnana yogis who use knowledge as their means of liberation. They should offer their time and money to support higher education, spiritual events, children, gurus. These people might like to give directly to a church or religious institution or anything that expands the horizons of young impressionable minds.

Venus

Venus in the 12th house will give us a great appreciation for all things foreign and meditative. They will like beautiful ashrams or quite often prefer more of a spa/resort style retreat. They will likely seek moksha thru enjoyment. For meditation it’s advised that one sets a very nicely decorated room set aside for this purpose. Quartz and crystal might also prove beneficial allowing the mind to find release, flowers fine silks and fine art will also bring a soothing influence to the 12th house sub-conscious mind influenced by Venus. Visualization of clear bright light, imaginative vision quests, practices of loving compassion surrounded by beautiful things and feeling oneself to be beautiful; perfumed and all of that. The key to the the 12th house is to give all of this to god and not seek to gain by it in any way. And by gain I mean not only money, but also attention to ourselves by doing these things publicly or talking about our 12th house experiences or sadhana. What happens when we talk the 12th house and seek gain or reputation thru them? We loose energy, vital force. We want to leave our losses behind us, the more we carry them with us the more we are lost to ourselves. But unless the 12th house owner is in the 12th house, we will carry those losses with us somewhere but this is quite another topic.

One with Venus influenceing the 12th house can connect to the depths of the house by offering time or money to organizations for the advancement of women’s rights, artistic ventures (especially music and harmony), family values, genetic research, language programs, negotiations, or any other mission which is to bring people together. Venus rules over the image we project and bringing harmony to the environment she influences. She will like it if we meditate on our senses to give us greater sensitivity and awareness to our experience of them

Saturn

A benefic Saturn influencing the 12th house will allow one to most smoothly burn their meditative karma in a cold, dry place; isolated and alone; sitting for long periods. Saturn’s influence on the 12th house can be very nice for meditation and long periods of silence and stillness. A more troublesome Saturn influencing the 12th house can restrict one from the sort of sanctuary one needs for meditation. They may not have adequate alone time for such practices. For example, Saturn in the 10th house aspecting the 12th house the native may stay up late working and may be the last one to leave the office.

If Saturn is in the 6th house aspecting the 12th house, the worry and tension of life’s obstacles and limitations may keep one up at night and disturb their sleep. Saturn also aspects the 12th house from the 3rd house, which can be nice for group meditation. Saturn’s influence on a person’s 12th house can exert a bit of pressure as that inner voice repeats a narrative of scarcity and restriction. However, this 10th aspect on the 12th house can also make one feel like they have some responsibility for the groups meditative or retreat experience. If Saturn is in the 12th house aspecting the 6th, then one’s own inner voice tends to victimize the native to some degree. On the other hand, this energy can be very successfully to put to use in a ministry of service in foreign lands or isolated ashram or retreat centres for which the rasi, aspecting or tenanting graha will specify.

Saturn promotes renunciation, sacrifice for higher cause, stillness, patience, commitment. He likes his space to be simple and cool with dark blues and purples. He is cautious and slow to change and has an appreciation for structure, repetition like mantra and japa (some Venus influence on such a Saturn can give Hare-Krishna or other kirtan or bhajan paths that are harmonious structured & repetitive), repeat in the same practice over and over again. With positive Mars influence on Saturn you and everything well placed you can get a Ashtanga Yogi with a very structured and challenging practice. These two can become very mechanical; for better of worse.

Saturn generally likes a socially approved practice (Capricorn) or even taking retreat with large groups (Aquarius). If we consider those who have Pisces rising, this puts Aquarius in the 12th house. Pisces lagna may self identify with Pisces/12th house things, so when they go to their 12th house retreats and meditative sanctuaries they may do so in a way that connects them with a large interlocking network and they are likely to occasionally get together for special retreat events including meditation that allows that to harness the group intention and energy. They will seek moksha thru restriction, renunciation & cold harsh structure. Although sitting in meditation may come naturally; access to the subconscious mind will likely take time and technique. There may be many delays, restrictions and setback in ones meditative path; but commitment here will produce results.

Saturn in the 12th will give you a service or manual labour role at the ashram; gardening perhaps. Mars and Saturn together can give a craftsman of some kind, but it has to be a pretty special arrangement between these two to in the 12th house to bring you to an Ashram as they would more likely find less wholesome means of enjoying themselves behind closed doors.

One should offer charitable donations to the elderly, the crippled, labourers, race relations or those organizations whose mission relates with providing structure or administration.

Concluding Remarks

The 12th house can a be a difficult house to remedy because of the inherent loss of connection or control we feel here as our ancestral spirits seek to impose their agenda on us. We appear to be living in a particular time and place, but the deeper truth is that all times, places and dimensions are co-existing simultaneously and we can see the overlap most clearly thru the 12th house. The remedies for this house are therefore to help us feel empowered in those areas where our power (vital force) is being drained.

The Dussthana houses 6, 8 & 12 the areas where we need to be most diligent in releasing our expectations 1. to be appreciated for our activity (6th house), 2. that as individuals we are in control of our destiny (8th house), and 3. that material gain is meaningful (12th house). Every house, planet & sign in astrology is trying to show us the deeper reality of our spiritual nature. These three houses are the more difficult task-masters: loss of autonomy, loss of control, and loss of everything. So, we learn to assert ourselves in some way; we become drawn into looking more deeply into life allowing us to make changes that will allow us greater control over our destiny (9th house spirituality is the wealth of our 8th house research as we have to modify our beliefs to match that new knowledge). The 12th house, our meditative, subconscious mind is the creative expression of the 8th house research into the depths, as well as the place where are beliefs are most comfortable. Whenever we think we have nothing left to give the 12th house shows us where we did indeed still something left to give. In this way we realize the value of what we have gained in this life. Or to put it another way, the true value of all of our hopes and profits and network connections will be seen by how much we have to loose in the 12th house. The more we give of our time and energy and money and service, the more we will most certainly value what we have earned thru the 11th house.

We are our own greatest obstacle to change (the 1st house is 6th from 8th), but we (our 1st house body and personality) is the creative expression of our beliefs (5th from 9th). Our beliefs shine thru our 1st house; they take to the stage, they play. Life is but a play of our beliefs; a speculation of faith. In other words, this life is nothing but the play of Lord Shiva or which ever name or silence you give to God.

Healing from Within

I was about 9 years old when I was walking thru a frozen forest, shouldered my pellet gun, and discovered the great transformative silence of death as a chickadee fell from the branch.  In 2003, my father was killed in a work accident. Later in life I came to live and practice in a holy place between the cremation grounds of Varanasi, India; the chosen abode of Lord Shiva. When my grandfather passed away, we shared our fear of death and brought peace to the whole family. That light and purity of a new born baby also shines in the eyes of those who burn for that final release from the wheels of time. All of our lives we seek the flavour that will quench our thirst, but eventually, we thirst for the most unthinkable mystery; death.

The movement of the breath is controlled by the Great Spirit in the Sky of Consciousness and it comes and goes; starts and stops only by that ultimate grace. The power of Great Spirit is raw and pure when we go thru the great transformations of birth and death. Between these two great moments lie all the smaller cycles of the breath and the days and the seasons and so much more that we can experience fully and deeply as we experience that great birth and death of the body. This is the experience of reality.

Yoga and spirituality suggest we can experience a deeper reality  if we look at life beyond our individual experience and experience life in relation to the universal expression of consciousness; of spirit; of spanda; Shiva’s self expression thru his powers; his Shaktis. We are so much more than these limited bodies and the experiences we have in this lifetime; we are intimately connected to the whole span of time and everything that has and will exist. We are not just a part of this universe, we are this universe. The truth is so mindbogglingly beautiful and wonderful that we can only experience it as that…… astonishing beauty, dazzling amazement and wonder. We’ve all felt this as some time in our lives. This is the experience of reality,

There is little difference between letting go of our egos so that we can transform ourselves in this life, or doing so so that we can prepare for the next life. In either case, we want to turn our awareness towards the truth of who we really are here and now releasing ourselves from the past and the future; releasing ourselves from our own stories. Each time we transform ourselves we seek to reach a higher consciousness; we want that positive growth which which will benefit not only ourselves, but our families and communities and the universe as a whole. It’s that universal connection and experience of non-difference that we seek, but which remains, for most of us, just out of reach. Like a shy damsel, ultimate reality casts only the most fleeting glimpse from the corner of her eye. And this is were we must also seek out that ultimate reality: in those dark corners of our mind and along the edges of our breath and our thoughts and between all things which seem distinct.

Between you and me is some chemistry which brings us into perfect and blissful union because it allows both of us to taste the ripened fruits of our individual karma while contributing, each in our own special way, to the collective karma that ties us all together. We call activity karma when we experience it a force of limitation that separates; but when we experience activity as a force of freedom and play arising and falling away from the same place, bringing everything together, activity is then called Kriya (the spontaneous activity of one who experiences life as universal agency (the actor) and preceiving subjectivity (the witness)).  This is the experience of life; reality; divinity.  ​

We are all on this path of healing together. Together we will grow and evolve; find the courage to face our fears and overcome the false limitations we put on ourselves. To do this we practice being open and honest to the reality of the moment while applying our most sincere efforts to whatever activity is at hand. This sincerity is especially important for healing and spirituality, since it provides us with the impulse and the will to gather the necessary knowledge and put it into a meaningful action. Tapping into this personal sincerity for healing is what we mean by healing from within.

The Most Essential Quality

 What is Prana Vayu?

hanuman, bhima, madhvaPrana is life force or vital essence. Vayu is air and movement. Pranavayu is the movement of vital energy. Western Yogis have been talking about prana for many years already and it’s a relatively common term now. Modern Sanskrit scholars now tell us that we may have misunderstood the meaning of this word (see Wallis or Dyczkowski for confirmation).

Yoga teachers will commonly cue student to “inhale the prana” and “to visualize prana coming down into the body to give it energy. Ayurveda has followed with this classification of prana being a downward movement connected with the inhalation. Prana vayu is actually a bit of an awkward arrangement of terms since anything with prana moves and anything that moves has prana. This means we can refer to all five movements of the prana  vayus as movements of ‘prana;’ we can also drop the use of prana and just call these movements the vayus.

What modern scholars tell us is that the word ‘prana’ actually refers to the upward outward movement of our exhalation rather than the downward inward movement of our inhalations. The implications of this research is just starting get filtered down to us ordinary yogi and even very respected Ayurveda Institutes have still not taken the time to consider their own teachings and understanding of this topic.

I have written elsewhere about the ignorance of the colonial mindset so I won’t talk about it here. Most ordinary yogis in the west are so far removed from the yogic scriptures that such finely tuned understanding of the terms they use is of little importance. The larger institutes and colleges are typically more concerned with reputation and profits they have little incentive to seek after the truth. It almost seem to be a kind of “little mans syndrome” of academia. Only the the great scholars care about such things and nobody listens to them since we can find the (wrong) definition of of prana anywhere on google.

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So, getting back to exhalation which is connected with prana vayu. When we exhale, our vital force goes out thru our breath and the five senses to illuminate the world much like the Sun as it follows it’s daytime course thru the heavens. It’s rises with the beginning of our exhalation and moves thru the sky (of consciousness) until setting in the 12 finger space above the crown of the head to give way to the movement of the moon which rises full when the sun sets. This is where the exhalation has ended. As we inhale to passively and graciously receive the gift of life one nitya (goddess) leaves the Moon and enters into our bodies to nourish us and give life to the soul (the Sun) thru the body until she is herself drained of life, dark and dry as the Sun gains exaltation begins to penetrate the cold darkness of death with heat of life and the illumination of consciousness.

This is also the meaning of pranayama (prana + ayama): the life force which defeats death bringing life to the sense, allowing them to move. Prana brings movement and warmth to whatever is inert, cold and dead. (I have also seen the opposite interpretation (prana + yama) suggesting that we do the breathing practices in order to still the breath, slow all the vital functions, an ultimately ride the breath to the heavens leaving the duality of earthly existence behind. Of course we continue on with our life, but without attachment, free of the limitations of the three gunas and they individual vital breath. One moves instead in perfect harmony with the universal flow of consciousness.

Kal Bhairava takes over for Yama in Varanasi.

When we exhale prana, that life force which was given to us by god, reaches out to the world through our senses to colour and flavour the objects with whatever flavour we might crave; whatever we have inside of ourselves at the moment reaches out to the world to create a counterpart. When we inhale and bring back all of that sensory material we generally forget that we have just created it, so we react. We forget that we always get back whatever we give. As long as we have forgotten this fundamental rule we will suffer from our karma; once we learn it, life becomes a spontaneous play whatever might be your circumstances.

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“The vital breath is essentially a state of consciousness which manifests as the movement of two breaths; prana and apana (exhale and inhale).” This is a major theme of Tantra: that one thing  appears to be two separate things; or, as is the case in waking life, as a multiplicity of distinct objects. As we look at things more and more closely and understand them for their subtleties rather than accepting them at face value, they begin to merge together as though they were never separate. As it says in the Stanzas on Vibration:

“Whatever else may exist apart from you, if subjected to sound reflection, simply disappears like the fables palace of celestial musicians and you alone, changeless remain….” Stanza 10 goes on to say that , “then the soul realizes that his true nature (dharma) is universal agency and perceiving subjectivity, and so he knows and does whatever he desires.” ~Stanzas on Vibration~

In yoga we often talk about the body, mind and soul. We can think of this as three worlds or three layer of our being. The vayus live in the intermediate region of our highest intelligence but they move between the heaven and earth; the soul and the body; the subject and the object. Vayu is Air and Ether, which allows it pervade and move between all 36 tattva.

11TH_Rudra_Shiva_HanumanThe prana vayus are known as the vehicle of Rudra, an ancient name for lord Shiva that means “the Howler.” Rudra is known as the “Lord of Beasts.”  He is often associated with the 11 Mahurts which signifies his rulership of the mind and the 10 indriyas (5 sensory and 5 motor functions).

There are 5 Prana-vayu (movements of essential vital force), the sacred spaces associated with them. I have described them both in Tantric terms as well as in terms of Ayurveda

  1. Prana: Represented by the Sun. Prana is moving when we exhale; this is a movement upward & outward from the body, when the vital force of the senses reach out to their object. This is the expression of our life force to penetrate the world and forever leaving our mark up it (which will come back to us again thru the 5 fold cycle of the vayus). Prana also represent what we give to the world. Many people who belong to traditional cultures will begin a deep breath with an exhalation whereas modern people are much more likely to inhale straight away when told to take a deep breath. In the later Tantras, this movement became associated with the pingala channel of the nadi system.

  2. Apaana: Represented by the Moon.  Apana vayu is the inward & downward movement which first comes to us thru the crown of our head in the form of grace or shaktipat as we receive the gift of life. In Ayurveda it’s the downward movement that aids elimination.  and moved down the body Ayurveda they say move downward and outward. Like for the elimination of bodily waste. In later Tantras this became associated with the Ida channel of the nadis system.

  3. Samaana: According to Ayurveda, it moves inwards, spinning towards a centre point like meditation. In the waking and dream state, prana-apana is active, however in states of deep-sleep samaana (the Equalizing breath) balances the inhalation and exhalation. The call it the equinox

  4. Udaana: The Ascending breath. This is the central channel; the shushumna. This is the upwards rising force. According to Ayurveda, it also moves outwards like speech.

  5. Vyaana: expansion in all directions radiating from the navel outward in all directions. Often considered as the nadis energy system similar to the meridians of Chinese Medicine.

What is the most essential quality?

The first story

The Trio Brahma vishnu mahesh cute picturesOnce upon a time all of the organs and functions of the body got into a debate about who was most essential. Many were praising the the way the skeletal system gave shape and standing to the body, or how the blood carried nutrients to maintain the body, others marveled the how the heart pumped blood and how the lung found it’s own way to pump air, then pranavayu came along and everyone silent, for they knew that without the warmth of prana and the movement of the vayus that all life would stop. The hearth would not beat, the blood would pool and go stagnant, and the breath stops; the body becomes cold and inert.    

The second story

Once upon a time, the Gods entered into a timeless argument over who was most powerful and essential for the functioning of life and this universe. Shiva happened to be moving about rather than sitting peacefully upon the peak of Mount Kailash. Something always seemed to be happening whenever Shiva was moving about. When Shiva came across this childish argument he sought to quell it by simply pointing out that none were as powerful as him and they should all just go home and forget this pettiness. Of course some of the big gods who were standing around took offense to this; namely Brahma, the creator, and Vishnu, the preserver. To their protests, Shiva merely revealed his true form as a mystical shaft (lingam) of light and said, “see if you can find where I end.”

shiva1The two who remained standing there laughed at the challenge and quickly set off in opposite directions to find those loose ends, finish off the argument, and, for once, make Shiva look live the fool; because after all, everything has to come to an end. But after eons searching thru the vastness of Shiva’s light they finally decided to meet back in Kashi where it all began. When they got there, Vishnu immediately fell to his feet to offer his most respectful pranam to Shiva. But Brahma, who, despite his capacity for creation, has no eye for consequences, lied and said that he had found an end. It was just over the horizon not so far and it had only taken so long to return because he had decided to rest there for a while and fell asleep. 

Almost nothing enrages Shiva like arrogance and upon this insult all of his his most fearsome aspects rose to the surface and with an upsurge of impulse he chopped of one of Brahma’s five heads. The greatest crimes in India are those that go against pure knowledge and wisdom; they call this killing a Brahmin. Even the Gods are subject to karma so this fierce form of Shiva, whom they call Bhairava, took up the skull and walked the four corners of India for the next 12 years. This is the version of Shiva most emulated by modern Naga babas and Aghore: naked, fearsome to behold, covered in the ashes of the funeral pyre where he makes his bed. Every part of his external image brings fear and revulsion. But if we take the time to get to know a true aghore we will get to know and over come our own fears. For that’s the social role of the Aghore, to show us that this is the worst it can get; this is our greatest fear; but actually, it’s not so bad. 

Aghore
Aghore

After 12 years of wandering like this, Bharava returned to Kashi, and not far from the train station washed himself in a small pond. All of his impurities (malas) dropped away along with the skull which had been his companion for 12 years. He once again brought balance to the three gunas within himself, overcoming their excess and deficiencies freeing himself from the wheel of time and the cycle of cause and effect. In short, even the most fearsome evil was able to overcome the inner turmoil of self and social recrimination and realize himself as that same light of the universe that is in all things without distinction of good or bad or any of the other opposites.

Head Chopping in Hinduism

Ravan tapasya
Ravana offering his own head to Shiva.

In Kashi, whenever Shiva takes this fierce form and starts chopping off heads they call him Bhairava and have given him a rather bureaucratic job of welcoming and signing in all the pilgrims to give them access to the spiritual vision necessary “to cross the river that is so hard to cross.” You could say that he does this by metaphorically chopping off their heads. This head chopping metaphor is a relatively common one in Hinduism. Shiva chopped Ganesh’s head in Ujjain. They have built their own Bhairava temple there to commemorate the great event. Of course it was a little bloody and gruesome, but due to that Ganesha received blessings from all of the gods and was given guardianship over the directions. Kali is also famous for her necklace (mala) of heads. Ravana, the main antagonist of the Ramayana was given his great powers by Shiva when he cut off his own head in offering to Shiva. My teacher once told me that “only Ravana can cut off his own head and get away with it.” Due to his great power of penance his head grew back every time. Ravana was actually said to have ten heads due to the vastness of his knowledge and wisdom. All of this suggests that a jnana yogi needs to acquire, by penance and blessing, knowledge which faces in all ten directions.

kali maIn Jyotish we also have the story of Rahu and Ketu, the north and south nodes. This all happened in the very beginning when the gods and demons (the bureaucrats and bohemians) figured out that they had to work together to retrieve the elixir of immortality by churning the ocean of milk; pretty much all the divine being had to help in some way. In their greed to get the amrit, they didn’t think much about the side effects which was the creation of the physical universe and it’s cycles. Laxmi and Kamadenu came from this churning as did some great toxins that Shiva was able to swallow to save everyone. When the amrit arose and they were getting ready to pass it around a beautiful dancing girl appeared, seductive and scantily dressed. This was a ploy by the gods who knew the demons could be easily distracted by their senses. From the start, they never intended to share the amrit with the demons from. Swarbhanu was watching and saw all of this happening so he disguised himself as one of the gods and lined up with them for the amrit while the rest of the demons were being pushed to the back of the line. But just as Swarbhanu was taking a drink Sun and the Moon alerted Vishnu who swiftly cut off his head, but it was too late, the amrit had made it down his throat and both halves of him were immortal. The called the head Rahu and the body Ketu and gave them an abode in the starry heavens with the planets. The continue their vendetta against Sun and Moon whom they’ve never forgiven. At the time of the eclipse they get their chance to exact revenge thru various methods of disruption. Rahu brings intense desire while Ketu brings an almost equal intensity to his ambivalence. While Rahu brings our focus to the material world an ensures that the wheel of karma keeps turning; Ketu cuts us from our material ambitions allowing us to surrender to what is. 

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