Spiritual and physical practice

yatra yatra mano yāti bāhye vābhyantare ‘pi vā |

tatra tatra śivāvāsthā vyāpakatvāt kva yāsyati || 116 ||

Wherever the mind goes, externally or even internally, it [discovers] nothing but the state of Śiva. Since [that state] is all-pervasive, where else could the mind go?

(verse 116 from the VBT, the Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra, which is a Shaiva Tantra, of the Kaula Trika tradition of Kashmir Shaivism)

What, you might ask, is the relationship to asana practices? Nothing and everything. When going back to the early times when all these beautiful scriptures were written, they mainly refer to yoga postures as sitting in padmasana for meditation. Or the term yoga just meant meditation. These days we incorporate yoga postures in our spiritual journey as embodiment practice, making direct connections to certain teachings and eventually place them in the body, express or feel them.

Ok, enough, this is not me! I’m following the teachings of Abhinavagupta, the Kaula Trika tradition of Shaiva Tantra, while also looking to the right and left, as there’s so much to learn, understand and consider! Bloody interesting and honestly, not just that, but it’s life changing. I started to understand a bit more of what this whole thing we call life is, what it is that I call “I”. I’m slightly overwhelmed with the amount of teachings and readings in front of me and same time very excited and curious.

My asana practice is still Ashtanga yoga, and even though I sometimes like to just flow or do some Yin yoga, Ashtanga is where my heart is. This too is – next to it being a challenging physical practice – a spiritual path. It’s a very focussed practice, no distractions, no music, no chi chi.

Two different things, that match so beautifully together. I feel there’s no need to have any additional constructs on how we can implement the spiritual teachings into the physical practice – it’s all there already! There are many practices in Tantra, mainly meditations, so moving the body helps a lot. How you move, well, do whatever feels right! I stick with Ashtanga 🙂

Meditation vs meditation

I read a lot about meditation. I took lessons. I did the 30 day challenge with Deepak and Oprah. I tried. Again and again. I failed. Again and again. Struggling with my feet falling asleep, my back complaining. Struggling with the feeling, that I simply can’t do it. Due to all the benefits of meditation, I couldn’t accept to not doing it. It was a catch 22.

My philosophy teacher in India was referring to the rising sun in his meditation lessons. He always said ‚I am the rising sun. I am shiva‘. I had to smile, it was kind of matching the situation, but I didn’t understand.

One day when doing my Ashtanga practice, I managed to focus that much on my breath, that my practice was nothing but intense deep breathing, while my body moved through the asanas. This felt so amazing and my only thought after practice was, THIS is meditation! A moving meditation.

This experience made me look closer to my definition of meditation: sitting in stillness, getting rid of all thoughts, calming down, release, finding peace within.

It was this definition, that was holding me back from meditating. Yoga is union and this is where meditation starts for me. Unite with myself. Going internal, connect with my breath. BE my breath. Feeling my love in my chest. Feeling the sun rising in me. Let it spread, let it shine. Being the rising sun. This deep connection is my meditation. And the journey to it is breath.

It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing. It might happen while practicing, or walking my dog. I might be sitting, lying down, or cooking. It might take a couple of seconds, minutes or hours. It doesn’t matter.

There is no right or wrong. This is how I meditate. Your experience might be totally different. But if you are struggling, maybe this is some inspiration for you.

These are MY moments. My silent moments, my deep connection to myself. My meditation. My moments when I am SHIVA.