Sangha Insight June 2024

Satsang with Babaji Shambhavananda

     Sri Shambhavananda

May 27, 2024 Satsang from Konalani Ashram, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

When I sit with you all I go to my happy place! It is a state of consciousness that exists beyond the physical. What does that mean, “Beyond the physical”? Am I a ghost? No, you have a nervous system that is quite different than you imagine. When you move beyond it you connect with another part of your system and that system isn’t limited by the physical. It is there that you receive the life force that keeps you growing, keeps you alive and keeps you functioning. You don’t know that until you can gain some inner discipline and calm down. When you can’t calm down you are totally on the outside. I can go there very easily. I just have to turn on the news. I turn it on and go, “What!” and then turn it off and go, “Right!”  I don’t go looking for stimulation that will activate certain patterns. And you all know what that is for you. I went through a process over 50 years of having those things come up and at first being totally victimized by them and then understanding how to work with them and how to unplug myself from a lot of these things that had me all bound up.

We all want to be happy from the moment we get up to the moment we go to bed. We want to feel good. We want everything to go okay, and we want to be happy. Welcome to Earth! It doesn’t happen. It is hit or miss. On the other hand even in the mist of chaos, and I have felt this, you can be happy. My advice is don’t smile in the midst of chaos, because others may think you are crazy. You go inside, find that place and begin to work there. Maybe be a little quiet. Maybe do a little mantra. Maybe do a little pranayama and get calm. The answer to all of your questions, the solution to a lot of your problems, that is where the answer is. Sometimes I want things to be a certain way and I am looking for a solution and I am thinking, “This is the obstacle. That is the obstacle. If I change this I am going to stop.” I let it all go and I allow myself to be present. Present means to being conscious and being in each moment without filling in all the gaps in your mind, in your body and with fantasies – just simply being present.

Once you get good at that things will arise. At first, they arise from your mind and I go, “No, I know you. I know bagels aren’t the answer, or Pay Days, or whatever.” You keep relaxing and you go deeper. At first it is just a feeling, it is intuitive. If you want to be intuitive, then quiet the mind. It is kind of an intuitive feeling. But don’t rush it! Give yourself time to let it unfold. Often, we take the first inkling of understanding and run with it. But really what you should be doing is sitting with it. Sit a little bit every day. Really be sure that you are there.

Surrendered Ascension

Chandrarupa on a Snowmass ski day

By Chandrarupa Provost, Snowmass, Colorado

After ten years of working for “The Empire,” that is Aspen skiing company, trading my labor for a ski pass, I decided to go rogue and forgo their employment. In lieu of shelling out thousands of dollars for a Chamber of Commerce pass, I found an alternative way to ascend the mountain. I decided I would skin up for the season and earn my turns in a different way. Skinning is when one adheres velvety strips to the bottoms of the skis that enable traction to hike up on the snow. The outer surface of skins has hairs or scales that grab the snow, preventing backward movement of the skis. When the skis are moved forward, these surfaces flatten out to allow some glide. Albeit this was a laborious endeavor, it provided me with ample opportunity to practice mantra and surrender. With one glide of my ski and inhale, “Om Namah Shivaya;” with another glide and exhale, “Om Namah Shivaya;” this, on repeat for 1 hour and 15 minutes as I ascended the mountain. Some days were harder than others. I can attribute my drive to persevere to my pitta constitution. I have a history of approaching life with an expression in mind, “Anything worth doing is never easy.” Over time, though and with a nod to my ShambhavAnanda yoga practice, this too became effortless effort. There were times that it felt like my mantra practice was carrying me up the mountain, my breath became rhythmic and easy. When my legs were tired and felt like sandbags, I would surrender and just keep going. I would practice not attaching to any particular thought or idea and continue returning to my mantra. These outings blended with my meditation times and I felt that so much of our practice is finding ways to apply the teachings of the lineage to our mundane lives. By the time I reached the top of the ski hill, I was clear headed and joyful. What a gift this life is. I am so grateful to be able to interact with the beauty of nature in the cold winter months. I am so grateful for Babaji, Faith, the sangha and the lineage teachings that I have been granted the opportunity to observe in this lifetime.

 

Abundance and the Sutras

Shoshoni colorful aspen glow at sunset

By Devananda, Shoshoni Yoga Retreat, Rollinsville, Colorado

There is a connecting point of abundance and the inner Self that may be glimpsed through the yoga sutras. This fall during the foliage season Shoshoni will host a weekend to explore this topic in a workshop on September 27-29, 2024 (10 CEUs, register online). Here are a few examples showing the connection of abundance and the sutras from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (ShambhavAnanda school’s rendition, 2010) presented in the format of sutra, translation and discussion for sutra 2.37 and sutra 2.38.

Yoga Sutra 2.37     Asteya-pratisthayam sarva-ratnopasthanam

For one who is committed to non-stealing, every precious thing becomes attainable.

Looking within the yogi experiences a sense of abundance delighting in everything attained. This inner vision sees bounty instead of lack, and gratitude for the inner connection with Self which is the wellspring of fullness. Seeing this same inner divine in everyone and everything around you one finds contentment. You don’t need anything on the outside to gain that inner experience and you can always reconnect with it.

Yoga Sutra 2.38.     Brahmacaryapratisthayam viryalabhah

Divine conduct reduces wasted energy, and so allows the practitioner endless amounts of energy with which to accomplish spiritual growth.

Considering this sutra and reflecting upon inner abundance it can be said that living a simple life is not about deprivation. The practitioner of yoga experiences that simplicity is about greater appreciation for the things in life that really matter and having the focus and energy to pursue them. One can create a life of calmness, with more loving kindness which can lead to greater health and fulfillment.

Come join in the exploration of what you, yoga and the yoga sutras have to offer in cultivating resources and attitudes to invite abundance into your life!

Practice Fuels Creativity

Durga and Dharma by Aubrey

by Aubrey Burnett,  Wichita, Kansas

I was introduced to this lineage in 2019 by chance. I found myself in a position of leadership at a yoga studio in Wichita, Kansas. I needed to complete a program so I could teach there. That’s the year I met Swami Priyananda. The philosophy and practices intrigued me. I had been raised in a religion that felt restrictive and fearful. It was life changing having exposure to a group of people so willing to share practices that encouraged my curiosity and reaffirmed that everything I need already existed within me.

A beautiful gift was emerging and it directly correlated with my wish to grow. Sangha supported me as I explored the vulnerability of sitting quietly with myself. My confidence grew, so did my creativity. I noticed a connection to Kali. The fierce femininity of her presence called to a place deep inside. I’ve always felt Kali energy, I just didn’t have words or a reference to understand and verbalize. Spiritual practices where the Divine Feminine is represented helps me feel seen. I paint Kali often; her mantra lives in my paintings.

The act of creating holds space in my body for noticing. As I sit to paint, the ideas and emotions that come from inside are translated outward onto canvas. As my body works, I see glimpses of my meditation practice emerging into my painting. I often cry because I feel so grateful that I am aware of these moments. I get to witness my growth. I am present for it. That is an extraordinary experience.

Aubrey & Faith

The Art of Noticing

Emily Rios, photographer

By Emily Rios, Hixson, Tennessee & current staff at Shoshoni

At a young age I knew I saw the world differently from those around me, I would try to express my view’s and the lens in which the world appeared to me, but words weren’t my strong suit. I was a very quiet, anxious child. But when at age 12 I discovered photography, a whole new form of communicating opened up to me. Suddenly I had the tools to not just speak about the world I saw, but to capture it. The mundane things everyone else seemed to ignore held so much magic to me. I’ve been photographing ever since, now at 29 I almost think in photographs. It has opened my eyes to so much and motivated me to pursue adventures I never would have. But most of all it has helped make me mindful of the world around me. Helping me keep my childlike wonder alive.

I notice the clouds, or the beautiful expression on a friends face when they speak to something they are passionate about, or how the morning light hits the spider web, I notice the rocks that are shaped like hearts, and all the ways we communicate without saying a word.

Photography has been an incredible tool on my spiritual journey to help me see the beauty all around. It’s helped me find joy in the mundane, and keep my eyes in the present moment, to notice the world around me. It gave me my voice at 12, and at 29 I still use it to communicate the way I see the world. How would you communicate through photographs? What do you notice that others might miss? Your unique way of viewing the world could open the eyes of someone who has never seen beauty in the ways you’ve seen it. You don’t need a camera to share your perspective with those around you though, that’s just the tool I like to use. What tools do you use to notice the world around you and stay present?

Vedic Astrology and the Four Goals of Life

Monday night meditation and satsang with Babaji Shambhavananda

By Devananda, Shoshoni Yoga Retreat, Rollinsville, Colorado

Vedic astrology is helpful for predicting the future, understanding one’s personality and making decisions. However, it can also be used to understand the four yogic goals of life. The Guru Gita refers to these four goals as dharma, artha, kama, and moksha. Here is an overview of these four goals. Ultimately, the deepest and best understanding comes from a daily practice and a steady meditation on the Self. Jyotish, the Sanskrit term for Vedic astrology, means “to shine light on”, or bringing to light possibilities. Seasoned astrologers say we should have the perspective that a planetary chart gives 25% influence to our lives while personal efforts (in meditation and with the wish to grow) give 75% influence on our lives. I am more of a student of Ayurveda, however at Shoshoni it seems that staff are just curious to learn some basics about astrology. This is a simple and brief introduction on this one aspect. (Referenced from various internet sources.)

Dharma

Dharma signifies a fulfillment of honor and recognition according to one’s inherent purpose. According to Vedic astrology. Jupiter is the most spiritual planet which symbolizes dharma and self-realization. Jupiter, like Mercury, is our intelligence, except Jupiter is our higher intelligence; our wisdom and knowledge of our souls.

Artha

In Vedic astrology, Artha is one of the four bhavs, or divisions of the twelve houses, called Bhava. Artha represents resources, the means of life, and activities that allow a person to be in a desired state. It includes wealth, career, financial security, and economic prosperity. The proper pursuit of Artha is considered an important goal of human life.

Kama

Kama refers to our needs, desires, communication, and intellectual skills. It shows our wishes and ambitions we would like to fulfill in our current lifetime.

Moksha

Moksha is the ultimate goal of the soul according to the Vedic tradition. It is the spiritual liberation that the soul is constantly aiming for as it passes through the cycle of life and death. According to the Vedic perspective, a soul must achieve all of these life objectives including dharma, artha, kama and moksha.

 

Energies, Astrology and Spiritual Work: A Brief Introduction to Vedic Astrology

Lakshman

By Lakshman Fontaine, Senior Astrologer, Boulder, Colorado

A person’s astrological chart shows the exact position of all the grahas (or energies) at the time a person was born. It is like a still photograph of where all the planets were from the viewpoint of where and when the person was born. This chart shows both how the grahas (or energies) were relating to each other at the time of birth and, symbolically, how these energies influence the person uniquely. It can show the ‘chemistry’ of a person, their personality, their Ayurvedic constitution, and in a manner of speaking, their overall energy.

We are constantly influenced by an ever-changing kaleidoscope of energies. Seeing how these ever-changing influences interface with the natal astrological birth chart can help to show us the evolution of our lives and where the energies represented by the planets are influencing our lives at any particular time.

When one is involved in spiritual practices like we do, he or she can consciously help to bring energies into his or her life which are beyond the planets. Devotion to the Guru, doing mantras that are alive, reciting the Guru Gita, meditating and practicing pujas all bring conscious energy and grace to our life. This is what helps us to work through the karmas represented by our charts and ever-changing influences. Patterns and deep psychic tensions get dissolved and burnt up in the fire of yoga through our daily efforts in practice. The grace of our lineage intervenes and allows us to continually shed the obscurations created by our karmas and represented symbolically by our astrological chart. One continuously transcends level after level of their chart. A great being may have some of the personality represented by their chart, but they will have mastered themselves and their karmas diminish rapidly.

Shiva and Kirtimukha

Kirtimukha atop Nataraj and Venkateshwara

by Chaitanya Tumuluri, Hyderabad, India

This story begins with the powerful Asura Jalandhara who had conquered the three realms. All the

inhabitants, including the Devas, were chafing under his reign. Drunk on his successes and enthralled with

his powers, he sought a worthy consort for himself. “Who better than Devi Parvati herself!” he mused. His messenger reached Shiva’s abode (Mount

Kailasa) and faithfully relayed those unbridled desires by saying, “You are not worthy of Parvati Devi. You

should surrender her to my Lord Jalandhara immediately!”

Shiva, as pure Consciousness, listened and opened his third eye which reflected back this energy of

wanton craving. This produced a terrifying Asura with a cavernous mouth embodying insatiable hunger.

He chased the messenger who fled and beseeched, “Save me, Lord Shiva! I’m only the messenger!”

Shiva couldn’t refuse and so, sent the messenger safely back to Jalandhara to relay the events.

Now, the anguished Asura pleaded with Shiva, “Hunger torments me – what can I consume now?”

Thoughtfully, Shiva replied, “Well, why not eat yourself?”

Surprise! The Asura did so – feet first, then legs, chewing through its belly, chest, neck and even chin

until only the upper face remained. Shiva laughed delightedly at this manifestation of life feeding

cannibalistically on itself. Endless new desires ravenously consuming the earlier ones.

“I’m still hungry?,” pleaded the Asura!

Shiva responded, “You will be known as Kirtimukha; (Kirti – Fame or Glory, Mukha – Face) and be

placed prominently in temples to be seen before the deity. You may ingest manifest Asuric tendencies of

visitors and thus, serve them while consuming endlessly.”

The Kirtimukha is often the “keystone” (at the top) of the ornamented arch that usually surrounds the

deity. This threshold guardian provides us a wake-up call to overcome our ego-fueled desires to truly view

the deity. This is an integral aspect of having the Darshan of the temple deity.

This reminds me of Rudi’s message on using our own lives for spiritual growth. In Spiritual

Cannibalism (Introduction, pp. 3) Rudi had said, “Life must be consumed whole – with all its tensions, pain, and joy. Only by surmounting a

situation can we achieve the understanding, the nourishment, that that situation offers.

In my study with various teachers, I was consumed by them and consumed them. This was a

psychic experience, what the books call being encompassed by the spirit of the teacher. My spirit

grew by eating that which encompassed me.”

Surrender is key – we cannot invoke Kundalini Shakti to manifest (as Jalandhara tried to) on demand, but

must surrender to Her play to attain Shiva consciousness.

Bringing Awareness into Movement

Kayla at the Buddha Rocks shrine

By Kayla Casteel, Lakewood, Colorado & current staff at Shoshoni

As a past practitioner of the “no pain, no gain” mantra, I used to think that the only way to make progress in my fitness goals was to be tough on myself and have an all-or-nothing attitude. Thankfully, my meditation and mindfulness practices have encouraged me to be more conscious in my exercise habits. Workouts that were once mindless, gritty and set in stone have evolved into a more balanced, flexible and fluid approach that allows me to move more consistently and thoughtfully. I’ve also started employing new techniques such as breath awareness, visualization and the mind muscle connection as part of a more mindful and effective strength training practice. Most importantly, I have fun!

Instead of letting dread or apprehension talk me out of my workout, I find myself doing a body scan and making adjustments, such as shortening the time, changing the rep scheme, increasing the intensity or emphasis of one exercise over another, or doing something completely different than planned that day depending on how I feel. This hugely reduces stress and anxiety around exercise. I feel more creative and explorative, and more apt to ask myself questions like, “What do I want to work on today? How can I be successful? What approach would work best here? If I’m tired or feeling drained, how can I honor that?”

I’ve learned that consistency is more important than the “perfect” structure and building awareness allows me to work through discomfort more effectively. Rather than getting frustrated that I’m out of breath or struggling, I’m able to listen to what my body is telling me and respond compassionately. Sometimes, learning to rest and be kind to yourself is the best way to keep moving.

Through self-acceptance and non-judgment, I find myself making more progress than the typical grin-and-bear-it approach. I feel more motivated to get a workout in when there are no hard and fast rules. It becomes less about what I “have” to do, and more about being kind to myself. This helps me stay focused on my goal, without getting sidetracked by negative, rigid or discouraging thoughts. I honor myself and my needs, which in turn fosters the self-compassion, self-respect and empowerment I need to keep going.

I used to think that more is better, but there is also evidence to suggest that slow, conscious movement can lead to greater strength gains. Focusing on slowing the eccentric movement of the lift (where the muscle is lengthening instead of contracting) can be a helpful tactic to increase maximum strength. Using the mind muscle connection to focus on a specific muscle group can lead to greater muscle activation of the working muscle through concentration alone. Studies have also been done where visualizing movement beforehand for as little as 5-10 minutes increases strength gains and proficiency, sometimes without doing anything at all.

Whichever form of activity you choose, whether it’s lifting weights, running or yoga, I find that leaning into my body’s cues, instead of trying to control or avoid them, helps make movement a contemplative practice. Whether it’s bringing more awareness into our movements, observing with curiosity and compassion or learning to slow down and be present, we can cultivate more strength and be our own source of encouragement and joy. You’ll know you’re doing it right when the workout is over, and you have a smile on your face!

Eldorado Ashram June Update

In a culmination of a well worked four months, our three awesome trainees (now teachers) have graduated with 200 Hour certification! We’re so proud and honored to be a part of their journey and growth in yoga.

Mila and Sanje have helped turn our sleepy greenhouse into a bright and vibrant garden once again! The plan for years to come is to continually expand the garden and sangha who are interested can help us. In exchange for garden seva, those folks will benefit by taking home some fresh produce once the harvest comes. This is one more step in creating a relationship that will sustain both ashram and sangha.

As we prepare for the busy summer season we want to acknowledge all the seva support we’re receiving from the sangha. It’s wonderful to see those who are able deepen their connection to sustaining our spiritual home. It’s so true that the more you give the more you get and we see it every single da

Summer Workshops

June 2-25, Introduction to Meditation 4-Week Series

June 22, Yoga and Ayurveda Series

June 29, Introduction to Kashmir Shaivism Class

July 4, Family Day at Eldorado Ashram

July 5-7, July Sangha Retreat at Eldorado Ashram, register on the Sangha page.

August 10, Women’s Retreat

August 17 200-hr Hatha Yoga Teacher Training begins (ends December)

 

Konalani Ashram June Update

Konalani grads

We have exciting opportunities for you: Online Training, In-person Training Retreats, and Konalani Residence and Work Study programs!

Rise Upper Level Yoga Training Retreat in Hawaii: Nourish yourself and your practice by retreating to Hawaii from July 16-23.

Resilience Upper Level Yoga Training Online: Starting July 26th, discover how chilling out can make you stronger and happier.

Ashram Residence Opportunities: Yes, we’re talking to YOU!

Ashram Residence Opportunities: Give your life an upgrade!

We’re offering Something for everyone!
– Training Immersions- Immerse fully in Ashram Life while up-leveling your yoga teaching.
– Digital Nomad- Experience the transformation of committing to your practice, while performing your remote job.
– Ashram Mentorship: Dive Deep into Ashram life for an extended period through our work trade program.   https://konalaniyoga.org/contact-us

Shoshoni Yoga Retreat

June Rainbow in the Western Skies, an Auspicious Morning!

Upcoming Workshops 

July 10-14 Sacred Art Retreat: Painting Buddhas

July 17-21 Sacred Art Retreat: Carving Buddhist Woodblocks

August 1-4 Yoga 102: Inward Bound

September 6-8 Malas, mantra, and Movement Retreat

September 13-15 Yoga Retreat

September 27-29 Abundance and the Sutras (10 CEUs)

October 24-27 Relax, Reset, and Restore Retreat

November 7-10 Women’s Retreat

Advanced Yoga Teacher Training Programs

June 3-11 (Mon-Tues) Deep Roots: Focus on Hips

June 12-20 (Wed-Thurs) Honor Wisdom: Yoga for Healing 1

June 24-30 (Mon-Sun) Honor Wisdom: Yoga for Healing 2

Meditation Teacher Training Programs

August 11-17 (Sun-Sat) Meditation Teacher Training Level 1

October 6-12 (Sun-Sat) Meditation Teacher Training Level 2

October 13-19 (Sun-Sat) Meditation Teacher Training Level 3