Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Simple Steps: A New Years Gift to You: #40 The Lotus Flower

This post is the final installment in our 40 Simple Steps Series.  I hope you've enjoyed them!  I know you can find value here too, for the simplest step of all is the knowledge that within these words you are meeting and greeting your own true self.

In the East, the lotus flower is viewed as a symbol of spiritual unfoldment.

The lotus has its roots in earthly mud, but as it grows upward in aspiration toward the light, its petals open out in a beautiful flower.

This unfolding is the goal of reaching toward the eighth limb of yoga, Samadhi.

The Indian Lotus flower symbolizes divinity, fertility, wealth, knowledge and enlightenment.
It is associated with the goddess of wealth, Maha Lakshmi, who brings prosperity, purity and generosity.
She sits on a fully blossomed lotus flower, symbolizing purity, beauty and everything that is good.

Om Mani Padme Hum, meaning, "Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus" is the sacred mantra of the Tibetans. 

The meaning behind the lotus flower's use is beautifully articulated in the following poem by Swami Kriyananda, a teacher I studied with as a result of my introduction to the work of his teacher, Swami Paramahansa Yogananda in his book Autobiography of a Yogi.

May you breathe in peace as you read...

Todays Simple Step

Contemplating the Lotus Flower

"We were talking - about the space between us all - 
and the people who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion 
never glimpsing the truth.

Then it's far too late when they pass away.

We were talking - about the love we all could share when we find it -

to try our best to hold it there - 
with our love

With our love we could save the world - if they only knew.

Try to realize it's all within yourself - no-one else can make you change

And to see you're really only very small

And life flows on within you and without you.

We were talking - about the love that's gone so cold

And the people who gain the world and lose their soul.

They don't know, they can't see - 
are you one of them?

When you've seen beyond yourself

Then you may find peace of mind is waiting there

And the time will come when you see we are all one

And life flows on within you and without you."
Swami Kriyananda

May you find a way to keep walking the path of these 40 Simple Steps.

May they lead you to your destination "home" and bring you to your happiness.

As you leave this year behind - and embrace all that is present before you -  the spirit in me salutes the spirit in you!


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Simple Steps: #39 The Door is Open

The eight linbs of yoga indicate a logical method that leads to the attainment of physical, emotional, and psycho-spiritual health.

Yoga does not seek to change the individual; rather it allows the natural state of total health and integration in each of us to become a reality.  That reality leads to joy and understanding, the result of the oneness we experience in the state of samadhi.

Todays Simple Step

What does it look like for you to walk through the door that is opening to the next step in your soul growth?

We all have a new door - a longer stretch - a deeper committment to our own truth...

No one else can really tell you what that looks like...

All the advice in the world is nothing compared to the innate wisdom you already have inside yourself.

Stop waiting for someone or something to tell you...

Take a moment now to allow yourself to know - without a doubt -
what it is that is waiting for you to say "I accept!"

In this way you will be guided, supported and attractive to the opportunities that already exist to help you find your way. In the words of Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, the German poet,

"Once one is committed, and not until then, will all manner and form of opportunity arise which would not have been there otherwise."
May you have many blessings along the way.

Till next time,

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Simple Steps: #38 Follow the Path

No one ever said the achievement of samadhi is easy.  In fact it is usually considered a difficult task.

The Yoga Sutra suggests the practice of asana and pranayama as a preparation for dharana, because these influence mental activities and create space in the crowded schedule of the mind.

Once dharana has occurred, dhyana and samadhi can follow.

Todays Simple Step

Take a few minutes today to follow the "yellow brick road" of links I have highlighted in the description above. 
Spend just these few minutes seeing for yourself how the steps move you from one state of mind to another.  
Once you have the ability to change your state of mind you have every possibility to change your state of being!

May you find the peace you seek in the process.

Till next time...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Simple Steps: #37 Union with the Divine

Samadhi refers to union, or true yoga.

There is an ending to the separation that is created by the "I" and "mine" of our illusory perceptions of reality.

The mind does not distinguish between self and non-self, or between the object contemplated and the process of contemplation.

The mind and intellect have stopped, and there is only the experience of consciousness, truth and unutterable joy.

Todays Simple Step
Suppose you met a Divine guide on your journey around town today.  Suppose you were tapped on the shoulder while waiting in line.

 Would it be meaningful to you if the face of that Divine presence just lit up from within while looking at you?   Would you even be able to stand the radiance of love that would eminate from a presence so filled with the simple joy of seeing you that tears of recognition would stream from their eyes and wet their glowing smile?

Would you ... could you... see beyond the illusion of your own frail humanity to see what they see?

Give it a try.  You are so beautiful.

It is your ability to receive the truth of it that will bring you to the experience of Samadhi.

Till next time,

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Simple Steps: #36 Samadhi

In our 40 Simple Step Series, we have reached the final step in the eight-fold path of yoga.

It is the attainment of Samadhi.

Samadhi means "to bring together, to merge."

In the state of samadhi the body and senses are at rest as if asleep, yet the faculty of mind and reason are alert, as if awake.

In this state one goes beyond consciousness.

During samadhi we realize what it is to be an identity without differences, and how a liberated soul can enjoy pure awareness. The conscious mind drops back into the unconscious oblivion from which it first emerged.

Todays Simple Step

We often think that the attainment of such a state is only found in a haze of blissful unawareness.
That is the furthest thing from the truth.

Samadhi IS the attainment of consciousness in an endless observation of itself.

Just for today, practice NAMASTE..."The spirit in me sees - and salutes! - the spirit in you."

See it - Be it!  This is the essence of the golden rule.

May all that you are be a blessing to you and to others.

Till next time,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Simple Steps: #35 Freedom

Todays Simple Step

A 3-Minute Meditation on Freedom...
 Stop whatever else you are doing. 
Stop fidgiting - hurrying - trying to fit this in.
This is special time - a sacred time. 
Offer it to yourself.

Take in a
Exhale.  Ahhhhhhhh.....

Take another breath  - even slower than the one before. 
Exhale. Ahhhhhhh....

Now once more - and keep all your attention on it - - a no nonsense, belly expanding breath...

pause...and exhale.  Ahhhh....

Hold steady now and notice - what did you just free yourself from?  What was pressing you and shaping you and bearing on you as a "must have" or "must do" that went away for just this one moment?

The nature of freedom is not that you do nothing - the nature of freedom is that you have tha ability to choose what you do.

Yes - choose.

Choose to take on your day.  Choose to act in the clearest most beneficial way you can.  Choose your actions - your promises - your responsibilities - your job - your relationships. 

They need not get easier...they need not change! 

YOU must simply choose them.

The freedom you achieve is the answer to the peace you seek.  Notice how different you feel by simply accepting the power of choice.

You can always choose again if you don't like what you see. 

Perhaps that is the simple step for another day.

Till next time,

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Simple Steps: #34 Illusion

For the yogi, there is a state of freedom that exists above all else.

It can be reached by constant inquiry into the nature of things.

Meditation becomes our tool to see things clearly and perceive reality beyond the illusions that cloud the mind.

Todays Simple Step

Give yourself 10 minutes to sit without distraction and simply observe the quiet place inside your mind.

Every time a thought arrives and interrupts your quiet space, just recognize it ("there's a thought") and let it go.
No energy. No judgment. Just going away...

Notice the feeling of peace that accompanies the quiet once you find it again.
Here is your place of power, here is your place of truth, and this is your simple step...your mind will wander, and you will notice new thoughts arriving.  Your journey is to let go over and over again.  The peace is impermanent but you will find it - simply - again and again and again.

Till next time....

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Simple Steps: #33 Confusion

Through the practice of yoga, as we fine tune our concentration and observe our perceptions we become more aware of the nature of reality, and can perceive that the world is unreal as we know it.

The Mystic advises:

"The only reality is the universal Self, or God, which is veiled by Maya - the power of illusion.

As the veils are lifted, the mind becomes clearer.

Unhappiness and fear
- even the fear of death -

So how are we to arrive at this unbelievable place of serenity and peace??

Only by practicing the skills and techniques we know can get us there - one simple step at a time.

You already have 32 steps that have gone before this one...they all count toward an accumulated effect. Return to previous posts, review - retrieve whatever you need to - but don't get off the train!

Perseverance is the necessary condition to any successful endeavor.

Todays Simple Step

You are only confused when you have too much information going in too many directions and no help but yourself to figure it out.

Just for today surrender.

That's right - surrender.

Let go.

Give in to the flow of grace that surrounds you.
          Take a deep breath and once empty, ask for clarity.

That's right! Ask!

Ask for help, support, assistance and the best outcome for all concerned.

Now listen quietly for a state of peace inside of you ... and let it be so.

This is todays simple step.

Till next time...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Simple Steps: #32 Consciousness Unified

During the practice of meditation, one observes insights and recognizes distinctions between objects as they are and subtle layers of perception.

We learn to differentiate between the mind that perceives and the means of perception...

We recognize the difference between words and their meanings...and the feeling of peaceful knowing is the basis of our actions.

Todays Simple Step

Just for today, be a fly on the wall observing your own actions.

Notice you watching yourself.

Observe yourself in the action of thinking.

Notice you watching yourself.

Now give the YOU who is the observer of yourself a few moments of time to be recognized, known, felt and seen.

This you is the meditator - the other is the performer.

When the two become one, and the actions you take are the result of the quiet observer stepping forward in truth rather than reactive self responding to stimulii, then the result of meditation is achieved.

You are truly present.

What a wonderful gift!

This is todays simple step.

Till next time,