Monthly Archives: February 2012

Obstacles on the path

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Patanjali says “Vyadhi styana samsaya pramadalasya virati bhranti darsanalabdhabhumi katvanavasthitatvani citta viksepas te n’tarayah” – which is translated as – “disease, langour, doubt, carelessness, laziness, worldly-mindedness, delusion, non-achievement of a stage and instability”.  These nine experiences cause the mind to be distracted, and as a consequence, they are obstacles on the path of practice.

What do they mean? 

‘Disease’ is pretty straightforward – you need to be in good health – if you aren’t the consequences of disease – pain, tiredness, frustration etc can keep one’s mind distracted, and practice hard to sustain. Always consult your doctor and practice good self-care if you suffer from a chronic condition. Having a long term condition requires discipline in it’s own right – and with good medical care, and by looking after yourself – yoga included – it may not be an obstacle.  But Patanjali says here, ‘dont beat yourself up’ – recognise it for the obstacle it could be and work around it!

‘Langour’ – is a sense of tiredness or inertia. Lancashire Yogi’s mum called this listlessness. Her favourite tip was to tell the teenage Lancashire  Yogi – to go out for for a walk and some fresh air – later Lancashire Yogi would continue with this tip and repeat a mantra as he walked.  Picking up the urge to declutter or clean the house is another way to crack the langoured feeling!  Remember too – the Persian saying “this too will pass”.

‘Doubt’ – it is said that one needs an unshakeable faith or belief in the efficacy and benefits of yoga. Once one starts  to doubt one’s practices – it can drive a wedge into one’s mind and all of a sudden Lancashire Yogi finds himself easing off the pedal, relaxing and then lazing – and becoming side tracked!  Without becoming a yoga bore or yoga obsessive Lancashire Yogi thinks that its important to remain faithful to the practice and the disciplines of the eight limbs of yoga.

‘Carelessness’ – Lancashire Yogi, in his enthusiasm and ascetic approach tends to push his body beyond the edge his boundaries. He can often hear Kit Hartley his brilliant teacher saying “back off – dont strain”, which is good advice and he does follow it, but because he  is enthusiastic or hard on himself, he pushes and more often than not he ends up pulling a muscle and in Lancashire Yogi’s book – that’s carelessness. But like all of these things – this obstacle is a life obstacle – take care, more care, less haste….all good advice. And worthy of attention.

‘Laziness’ – just when you think you cant be bothered and would rather slump infront of that cathode ray tube…you need to shift perspectives and jump in the pool, or go for a walk or a run…or do some yoga.  Lancashire Yogi finds his mind gives him millions of justifiable excuses to be lazy. ‘Internet research’ is a great excuse for laziness.  A regular, and disciplined practice is probably the best cure for laziness!

‘Worldly-mindedness’ – for Lancashire Yogi – William Wordsworth said it as well as any – and he’s a poet so that’s even better – “The world is too much with us; late and soon,  Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”.  The world could be said to be illusory, certainly it and all of its tricks and tips can hook us like a fish on a line. Best not be dazzled or fooled by the wiggling worm or other tasty morsels on the hook!  Maybe this was why Matsyendra was stuck practising in the big fish for twelve years – pratyahara – to avoid being hooked by all that is so tantilising about life!

‘Delusion’ – which although we tend to think of as a psychiatric term – it actually means taking a thing for what it is not. This is due to a lack of critical reasoning, intelligence and discrimination. By taking an object, experience or other aspect of life, as something that it is not – it is easy to be fooled into an entaglement in the weft and warp of that rich tapestry of life – and lose one’s way in that entanglement. Sometimes Lancashire Yogi thinks that with life and like Theseus in the Minotaurs labyrinth, we all need a length of Ariadne’s golden thread to help us through lives mazes and labyrinths. Interestingly that golden thread is often regarded as logic or critical reasoning – the very thing to cut through the delusions that we can be fooled by.

 ‘Non-achievement of a state’ – this refers to the stages of establishing the mind in the states and stages of Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi and beyond. To Lancashire Yogi this is about taking two steps forward, and then finding that you are three steps back. You progress well, only to falter and fail when you think you are progressing well. It can be a bit of a shuffle forwards, shuffle back, kind of life but knowing that this happens is enough – as is remaining patient and giving yourself to your practice.

‘Instability’ – like the ‘non-achievement of a state’  – you can get a strong footing in your practice, or into a rythm of practice and then find that your grip or your pace can be lost. Losing your hold at a particular stage of practice can be disheartening, but similar to, for example climbing – if you have laid good foundations – and supports – you wont find yourself falling back too far.

These are such common obstacles to practice that anyone practising yoga or related disciplines will recognise them. Lancashire Yogi certainly does. The first step is to ‘surface them’ – to be aware of them, and like a soldier knows his enemy – know them – to deal with them.

Namaste

the way of the wyrd

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The Druid tends to wake up with the dawn chorus. So Lancashire Yogi, who finds himself practising at 6 am also hears The Druid knocking on his window. The Druid looks quite refreshed, and, considering that he has slept in the woods over night – in February – he is remarkably well dressed, and clean looking. He has joined Lancashire Yogi in his morning practices. The Druid enjoys surya namaskar – sun salutation. He says he thinks the Druids practiced this at sunrise in the stone circles in times gone by.

Later we sit and drink tea. Lancashire Yogi wants to know about the way of the wyrd. Lancashire Yogi is interested in this because as he understands it, the wyrd is like Karma of sorts. But the Druid puts him right.  The wyrd is a druid/runic/nordic concept of fate and destiny.  The word ‘wyrd’ (pronounced wierd) does have similarities with fate and destiny.  The old english word comes from old Saxon and Norse – meaning “to become”. Wyrd also relates to weaving and spinning weaves of fate.  Its also related to an old germanic word meaning “the worth” of a person’s soul.  Wyrd to the Druid is a stream of life and fate, and it is the weight or worth of a person’s soul. What the soul is worth, and what it will become – on the basis of the life lived. Lancashire Yogi suggest to his Druid pal, that this is similar to the karmic laws of life.  The Druid replies that the wyrd is essentially the road which leads everyone to the same destination. It’s more like dharma than karma, he thinks.  In modern english, wyrd, is translated as ‘wierd’, meaning uncanny, supernatural or strange. In Nordic mythology, there are three characters or Norns, who are “women who write” the good and bad deeds of a mans life for scrutiny after death.  The Norns are weavers, spinner an intricate web from the threads of birth, life and death. The web they weave is the web of life – an individuals’ and life itself. We are caught in this web, and its warp and weft, the pulls and the knots are all part of the rich tapestry of life that we live. The wyrd is the web of threads and fibres that flow throughout the universe, linking everyone, everything, every event, every thought and every feeling. To some its the zeitgeist, to others its life. Lancashire Yogi thinks it sounds like the interconnectedness of life. He also wonders if it is another expression of morphic resonance.  But regardless of what one thinks, he feels the challenge is to see emptiness in the tapestry and become free of it. Those threads may make a pretty pattern and compell one to stay in the game of life, but actually, those threads bind, and keep one tied in to it all.  Lancashire Yogi thinks that wyrd represents karma and the goal through practising yoga is to free oneself from its trap. The Druid, he thinks its best to embrace it. Like the zeitgeist, to surf it and work one’s way through it. They beg to differ, but both recognise that on their journey – its something to be aware of.

Namaste

The Druid

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Lancashire yogi is excited today because the Druid has arrived. He travelled up to Lancashire from Somerset, via Wales, where he spent some time on Anglesey. He tells me that Anglesey was the last bastion of the Druids during the time of the attempted genocide by the Romans. He says there is strong and powerful energy there and he finds that he is recharged after a stay there. He believes that it is that energy that prevented the Druids from being wiped out.   Lancashire Yogi and the Druid usually find that themselves sat by the fire and exchanging stories after a long period of time apart from each other. The Druid usually has some wild nature tails to tell and he is always interested in Lancashire Yogi’s yogic path. Sometimes they ponder the possible linkages between the Druidic tradition and the Dravadian tradition from which yoga is said to have arisen. But most times Lancashire Yogi likes to listen to the Druid tell him about his own mystical journey.

Lancashire Yogi first met the Druid in Anglesey many moons and suns ago. It was a time when Lancashire Yogi was interested in stone circles and the energies of ley lines.  He spent some time exploring the energies of the earth through dowsing and following the ley lines and stone circles to be found right across the United Kingdom. He has some favourite stone circles which are deep and powerful. Kits Coty in Kent is one which literally blew him away (perhaps he will reveal this story one time),  Anglesey, the Peak District, Somerset and of course the Lake District are all places he has spent time connecting with the earth energies.  Sometimes he wonders if there are an inordinate nexus of energies in the earth criss-crossing across the country with the stone circles as something akin to acupuncture needles on the meridians of the country.  He was dowsing the energies of a particular stone circle in Anglesey when he came across the Druid, sat cross legged, meditating on the edge of the stone circle, eyes closed and chanting.  Lancashire Yogi passed by the character and continued dowsing. Later he was sat on the outside edge of the stone circle basking in the late morning sun, when the Druid came up and introduced himself.  They spent most of the day talking about their beliefs and experiences and as the sun sunk over the trees, casting shadows on the stones, they agreed to keep in touch.

Lancashire Yogi is a “Grihastha” – or a householder in hindu terms – .   While the English Bard, Shakespeare divided stages of a persons life into “seven ages”. In Hinduism, human life is believed to comprise four stages. These are called “ashramas” and every individual should ideally experience each of these stages.  These are (1) “Brahmacharya” or the Student Stage, (2) “Grihastha” or the Householder Stage (3) Vanaprastha” or the Hermit Stage and (4) “Sannyasa” or the Wandering Ascetic Stage. As a householder – Lancashire Yogi is married, with a family, lives in a house, and works in the world of machines, men and money. The term householder is particularly neat because it sums up Lancashire Yogis view that it is not for him to retreat or escape from the world like a monk or a hermit. He’s not critical of this choice; he just knows that he needs the rough edge of daily life to give him the boundary within which he practices. Ahimsa becomes a challenge in an office or shop, or on the motorway, or at a party or at the shops! Bringing up a family and living with Mrs Lancashire Yogi is a constant testing of his practice, beliefs and values. It gives him the leading edge which guides his practice.  He is always learning and forever being renewed and surprised by his experiences.  The Druid is a wandering shaman; in India he would probably be a Saddhu. He wanders from place to place always staying in deep connection with nature and natures energies. He sleeps in woods, and hedgerows, in summer in the fields, and on beaches, and he has walked many, many miles of this land. He travels light. He has a small knife,  a flint, a rug and his flute. When he visits Lancashire Yogi, he’ll often sleep in the woods at the back of the house, and will appear in the morning to share breakfast. Lancashire Yogi and he will then go off walking through the Lancashire countryside. It always surprises Lancashire Yogi how much the Druid knows about the countryside around him. The sun, stars, moon, clouds and wind are his compass and nature is his home. Birds and all sorts of wildlife appear to be unafraid of him, and he converses with the birds in the hedgerows in song, as we walk.  He finds Lancashire Yogi’s breakfast very heavy and needs to walk and stretch after it. He’ll forage for his food in the woods and hedgerows; and never seems to go without anything to eat. Like Lancashire Yogi though, he’s a vegetarian, so he appears to live on herbs, berries, fruits and foliage.

As they walk, the Druid reminds Lancashire Yogi of Alan Lee Chew the Aborigine friend he made in Queensland when he travelled there many moons ago. As we walked through the bush, Alan Lee Chew would be continuously pointing out landmarks and telling Lancashire Yogi what they were. It was only after two days of walking that Lancashire Yogi realised that there was a strong narrative consistency linking all of the landmarks. Years later, he read The Song Lines by Bruce Chatwin and came across the concept of aborigines “singing up the land”; that the world out there didn’t exist until it was sung or talked into existence. Lancashire Yogi was intrigued by this, and when the Druid starts pointing out sites he is not only talking up the land, but linking it all together as part of the nexus of energy lines that Lancashire Yogi has reflected upon.  “Yogi, look –  there’s badger playground, and up there battlefield death dirge” he says as we walk through a fold – which is an old english word for a place where one feels comfortable – typically in these hilly and rough areas – a small cosy valley.  “Ah, there is big energy here” he laughs, and we look up to see Pendle Hill, one of the four large hills in the area that Lancashire Yogi loves so much.  The other three are dales side and are Pen-y-ghent, Ingleborough and Wernside.  Pendle Hill, much loved around the Ribble Valley and from the other side, Pendle and Burnley – is a large brooding mass which is renowned for its stories relating to witchcraft. But the Druid sees it in a much more positive light. He thinks the witches – were victims of a superstitious age when men couldn’t abide women who were knowledgeable or had energy or power.  When they got too threatening to the men of the time; they were tried for witchcraft and hung or jailed. Scary women locked away.  The Druid thinks this sort of mentality still exists: “women have so much energy and power – they are after all, the mothers and the lovers of men, and the source of fertility and creativity, and you only have to see that many men want to control them; or diminish them”.  The Druid often refers to the story of Samson and Delilah – to illustrate the strength of women.  I question the Druid about this, and he relents because we are both agreed that in modern times feminism has given more freedom, control and power back to women. However the Druid thinks a lot of this is “on mens’ terms”.  As we climb up the hill, he turns back and looks out towards Burnley and across to a plateau like hill called Hambledon Hill, “of course Yogi its men who need their liberation …). I look out across the post industrial urban landscape and nod my head. I agree. Men have somehow lost their way, as women have gained more freedom and control. Lancashire Yogi thinks that this isn’t about competition – he doesn’t want to compete with women. He loves the feminine energy of his female friends; and he loves the male energy of his male friends. It’s more about ensuring that there is a good balance of energies in play at any one point. The Druid thinks it’s all about energy and doesn’t matter if you are male or female; it’s just recognising the yin and yang energies within us all; and playing to them in the dance of life. Not one better or worse, but somehow spiralling and shifting between each other in a delicious interplay.  At the top of Pendle Hill, Lancashire Yogi and the Druid do a spot of meditation, and some chanting.  The view from the top is delightful. To the West you can see the sea and the pleasure spires of Blackpool, and further to the East you can see Pen-y-Ghent and Ingborough, and the Yorkshire Dales. To the North you can see the Trough of Bowland, and in the foreground, the Ribble Valley. It’s cold up here and there is a strong wind blowing. Lancashire Yogi suggests to the Druid that maybe it’s not about male and female energy –  he feels that’s too loaded on gender and biology – which creates more of the same problem because it casts men as ‘active’ and women as ‘receptive’. Lancashire Yogi doesn’t think that can be entirely true. Instead, Lancashire Yogi tells the Druid, that he thinks it’s about an interplay of energies – the Gunas.  He has talked about the Gunas before and thinks they are a compelling life energy interplay. The Druid laughs and points to the mountain – he thinks that Pendle Hill is rajastic and the Ribble Valley is tamasic – somehow the Trough of Bowland appears to be sattvic.  We’re not sure but we spend the rest of the afternoon walking home considering what in nature is rajastic, what is tamasic and what is sattvic. If men need their liberation – somehow the Druid and the Yogi both feel that they are pursuing paths that can help men find their freedoms.  Lancashire Yogi is always baffled why more men dont do Yoga practices.  The Druid is on more solid ground because he thinks that men spend more time with nature, but he sees it as a missed opportunity where men end up competing or fighting with nature, seeking to conquer or control it.  They both agree that there is hope – there are men who are pushing back the boundaries of manhood and what it is to be ‘male’.  Both feel that this is the next exciting journey for everyone. More importantly the Druid wonders what the impact of all these energies in nature have on us and other beings. Just as the sun dips down below the hill, the Druid reminds Lancashire Yogi that they have yet to talk about the Wyred. He feels its got a role to play in men finding themselves, as much as women – and equilibrium or balance being restored.  So having bid each other farewell for the night; we agree to meet tomorrow to learn more about the way of the wyred and another long walk in Lancashire.

Mastery

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Every so often, Lancashire Yogi stops everything and refers to a beautiful and inspiring book by an Aikido Master called George Leonard.  The book is called ‘Mastery’ and is written for those who are on a path or a journey of self realisation.  Lancashire Yogi’s Sensei – Wasyl Kolesnikov describes this as a journey to the source.  A few moons ago, Lancashire Yogi wrote a summary of George Leonards tips for mastery – he has found it a useful reminder of the challenges of living on the path. Lancashire Yogi is reading the Lamrim Chenmo at the moment, and in this, Jey Tsong Khappa refers to obstacles on the path to enlightenment. Unsurprisingly, these are remarkably similar to the list of “pitfalls along the path” that George Leonard describes in ‘Mastery’.  I list them below.  Sometimes just having this list can bring to the surface a realisation of the reason why one is trudging through treacle or mud. The list can be a reminder too that the journey is challenging – otherwise why do it?  Lancashire Yogi thoroughly recommends that anyone on an inner – or even an outer journey has a copy of this book – there’s too much detail to include here and this is simply a sharing of Lancashire Yogi’s own checklist – but the book is small enough to put in a coat pocket or the back of your rucksack. Its definately one to have to hand and reflect on.

The Five Keys

1.  Instruction – get a teacher or a guru – find your heart teacher!                        

2. Practice (and practice, and practice)

3. Surrender to the practice, the disciplines, the journey, the insights, the moments

4. Act with intentionality – with purpose

5. Find the edge of your being and your practice and work that edge

 Dealing with change and homeostasis

  1. Be aware of the way homeostasis works (see below for Lancashire Yogi’s thoughts on this)
  2. Be willing to negotiate with your resistance to change (do deals with yourself!)
  3. Develop a support system (satsang, networks, friends, resources)
  4. Follow a regular practice (daily, regular and smooth, and even)
  5. Dedicate yourself to lifelong learning

Getting Energy

  1. Maintain your physical fitness
  2. Acknowledge the negative and accentuate the positive
  3. Try telling the truth
  4. Honor – but don’t indulge your dark side
  5. Set your priorities
  6. Make commitments – take action to meet them
  7. Get on the path of mastery and stay on it

 Pitfalls along the path

  1. Conflicting ways of life
  2. Obsessive goal orientation
  3. Poor instruction
  4. Lack of competitiveness
  5. Over-competitiveness
  6. Laziness
  7. Injuries (mainly through pushing over the edge you are working)
  8. Drugs (and addictions that you lose yourself in for many reasons)
  9. Prizes and medals (something about getting lost in pride and ego or simply staying put because you got the medal….)
  10. Vanity (ditto)
  11. Dead seriousness….(you might disappear up your own seriousness!)
  12. Inconsistency (practice a bit today, then miss out tomorrow etc)
  13. Perfectionism (got to do it absolutely perfectly this way and this way only!)

The word that anyone reading this may need to look up is homeostasis. Lancashire Yogi understands homeostasis as the natural regulation of a system to maintain equilibrium, or stability.   A good example is body temperature – if your temperature went up significantly you would probably have a fever or virus – needing help.  What homeostasis does is keep everything in good working order.   The biologists have the low down on this but Lancashire Yogi understands that homeostasis as a principle applies to pretty much everything. He’s no scientist but Lancashire Yogi thinks that it is a well established theory of systems and as well as the body – this also includes the mind, attitudes and behaviour.   Leonard suggests that the challenge with homeostasis is that it exists and functions to maintaining things as they are – and have been. So, when one wishes to change one’s behaviour or mindset – you know – that practice, practice practice thing – good old homeostasis kicks in and trys to keep you lying in bed as you always have been rather than getting up and doing the practice that you aspire to do..! According to Leonard, and others homeostasis is good for the most part in maintaining the equilibrium, but it also systematically resists any and all change.  Which means that everytime you fight the urge to do a set of asanas or read some scripture – its homeostasis.  The antidote is negotiating this resistance, developing your support system and following a regular practice, which over time will lay down a new system of homeostasis.

What Lancashire Yogi likes about this checklist is that when he finds that he hasn’t practiced, or read scripture, or perhaps found himself being unkind in thought or lacking in compassion, or when he just can’t get out of bed, or has an injury…..he turns to this list and reminds himself that these are pitfalls on his particular path, and he picks himself up, dusts himself down and carries on. There’s no use in feeling down when he falls down.  Lancashire Yogi has a favourite quote which is one which he thinks is attributed to the Buddha.  When he trips up in a rut on his path and falls down, feeling that everything is lost or broken,  he refers back to it.  It goes: “When something is broken, why worry if it can be fixed?  When something is broken and can’t be fixed, why worry?”

 Namaste and best wishes to you on your path!

all the little creatures…

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Lancashire Yogi has been a vegetarian – pretty close to a vegan for thirty-five years. He turned vegetarian on a spring day many many moons ago. He was walking past a field of sheep and lambs, and the air was full of happy bleating.  Lambs were scampering across the field and on one tree stump, three lambs were playing a game where one would jump off, and the others would move along, to allow the first one to join them again on the stump. They did this for a long time. A crow circled above, and a couple of magpies swooped down on the road to forage.  In the distance Lancashire Yogi heard a dog barking, and the chime of the village clock. Lancashire Yogi, stood and watched the lambs playing, and in that moment, he realised that there is an underlying unity to life and that this interconnectedness was as real in this moment as it is in any other moment.  He resolved to stop eating animals and to become a vegetarian or a vegan.  He has stayed true to this resolution for thirty five years.  In many ways it has been a constant backdrop to his life – people asking him why he doesnt eat “meat”; he answers that he doesnt eat anything that has been killed expressly for the purpose of human consumption.  Over time Lancashire Yogi has realised that this is part of his yoga practice. It is ahimsa – not killing.  As he grew up into this life of vegetarianism, he remembers some wonderful moments.  He read a lovely interview with the Hare Krishna leader  Srila Prabhupada where he was challenging a christian leader as to why he ate meat on the basis of the christian commandment being ‘thou shalt not kill’.  He helped some lovely compassionate organisations in their protection of animals. He got to meet some animal rights extremists who he ran away from because they were advocating violence.  He read the beautifully clear and concise book by the ethicist Peter Singer – Animal Liberation.  At times in all of this he must have been intolerable to some people because he was quite vociferous about how important it was not to eat meat.  He made a point of  avoiding intimate relations with women who were meat eaters and got into scraps with those who couldn’t understand the rationale for meat eating.  He must have been a ridiculous bore over the meal table many times.  Over time he became less dogmatic about other people’s positions, and perhaps more accepting that this is a big move for many people. As his yoga practice deepened, he wondered ‘can you practice yoga, and be a meat eater?’ and he realises that it is entirely possible to practice yoga and be a meat eater. Just as it is possible for a christian to be a meat eater inspite of what Sri Prabhupada said to the cleric in the aforementioned interview.  If however one views yoga as part of a whole package of practices – then there is probably (to use a gambling term) an accumulator effect.  It is only Lancashire Yogi’s guess work here, but it goes something like this : asana+chanting = some good karma, while asana+chanting+vegetarianism+being kind = a whole lot more good karma. If one professes to be kind or compassionate – how does this sit with a decision to eat meat?  Lancashire Yogi feels that this represents an uneasy challenge: he wouldnt say that you cant be kind if you are a meat eater because clearly there is a lot of kindness and compassion from people who eat meat or animals.  It’s probably that old accumulator effect in operation again.   Lancashire Yogi is chuckling to himself because he is sure its not really like that – but on the other hand – there is a growing health and scientific evidence base that vegetarianism, like stretching (asana) is good for you. There seems to be a growing consensus that  eating too much meat can actually make you ill, suffer from long term health problems.  So from a purely enlighted self interest point of view – its probably a good thing to accumulate these practices – be kind and compassionate – and be a vegetarian….

In one of Lancashire Yogis meditations – he uses the prayer of St Francis of Assisi.  It goes like this:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Its a lovely prayer and works well within the tradition that Lancashire Yogi follows.  What was interesting about St Francis of Assisi was that he loved nature and animals. I guess you could say that he saw the underlying unity of life and our interconnectedness with everything around us.  Lancashire Yogi took some friends for a walk a few days ago and saw some lambs.  They scampered towards us and sniffed the air around us. One friend said “they’re coming close to us because they think its safe – they’re probably aware that you’re a vegetarian Lancashire Yogi” – we all laughed at this, but if the work of people like the scientist Rupert Sheldrake and his work on morphic resonance is to be believed – they probably were aware at some level that they were in the company of non meat eaters.  Who knows?  What is beautiful about St Francis’s love of animals is that he saw them as part of his world and life, and Lancashire Yogi sees them like this.  We share the planet, the air, and all the other resources of the world with the animals and the least we can do is respect their place in life and avoid violence towards them, or sanctioning others to committ violence and kill them on our behalf.

Lancashire Yogi thinks there is a karmic reason to do this, as much as a health reason.  However he has learned over time that it is best that you come to your own mind about all of this. Look at the evidence for health, consider your sense of connectedness to other sentient beings and consider whether you need to eat them.  The Vegetarian Society of Great Britain is a good starting place if you are thinking about becoming vegetarian. But there are also plenty of alternatives to meat nowadays, and they are relatively cheap and readily available in all the usual stores.  It is also certainly much easier to reduce your meat intake, and then switch to vegetarianism. 

Every so often when Lancashire Yogi feeds his furry friends, they occasionally look at him and one eye blinks like a wink. Lancashire Yogi thinks this is amusing and although he could be accused of anthropomorphism – he can’t help but think that the wink is the furry friend saying “thanks… from all the little creatures”.

Namaste.

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Lancashire Yogi has been reflecting on part 2, sutra 46 of the Yoga Sutras: “sthira sukham asanam..” .. This sutra  describes how yoga postures (asanas) should be done.   Lancashire Yogi has been feeling a bit sore and stiff recently and wonders if his rajastic nature – enthusiastic, eager to push his limits and challenging – has conspired in him over-stepping his limits and pushing himself too hard.  To counter the stiffness he has been spending his time swimming gently to loosen and soothe his over-stretched limbs.

He was reflecting on this sutra because he understands it to mean steadiness (sthira) and easiness (sukham).  Lancashire Yogi thinks that this is the absence of forced effort and hard holding (like a clenched fist..or similar). And he thinks his aching limbs are a result of him forcing the postures and holding them too hard, rather than gently.  He does like to push his body.

Of course, he thinks also, that his body is yelling back in the form of stiffness and soreness as a reminder that he perhaps needs to apply more ahimsa  (non violence) to his practice. It’s a gentle reminder that while we shouldn’t be violent towards other sentient beings – we must remember that the person we most often are violent towards – is ourself. And in this case, Lancashire Yogi likes to crack the whip hard – which isn’t fair nor in keeping with his aspirations.

Lancashire Yogi is resolved to be a bit more gentle and seek steadiness and easiness in his practices from now on.  

Namaste

“sthira sukham asanam”