Jim's Writings

Zen master Hakuin inspires us to develop fortitude

Hakuin’s early extreme exertions affected his health, and at one point in his young life he fell ill for almost two years, experiencing what would now probably be classified as a nervous breakdown by Western medicine, though the symptoms were similar to Kundalini.

He called it Zen sickness, and sought the advice of a Taoist cave dwelling hermit named Hakuyu, who prescribed a chakra visualisation practice which eventually relieved his symptoms.

What is yoga?

Yoga how to recognise it and what it is for

Yoga is a small word with a big meaning. It does not mean exercise or flexibility, it simply means ‘union’.

The root of yoga practice

Allow prana to flow by moving in as you let go (let the sun be guided by the moon). Note all release is natural; be with your experience but give it space. This is the root meaning of any yoga practice.

Seasonal illumination

This is the festive season, whether or not you are celebrating one of the religious festivals held at this time of year. The days draw darker up to the solstice and this evokes all kinds of responses in all aspects of nature including us.

On love

It would not be right at this time of year not to mention something of Love. The shops are full of things you should buy for someone you love and although the commercialism and promoted expectation that these corporate events promote can be a little distasteful in the true spirit of Vajrasati, we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

New year, new perspective

Having had some sort of change to routine is common over the solstice/Christmas, winter festival period. A break of routine can mean a break of habits, too. Use this to shift perspective…

Although some feel that the thirteen-month lunar year (29.53 days a month, 384 a year) is a more logical point (although very hard to get right) at which to place the New Year and all that is associated with it, this time of year definitely lends itself to a feeling of new opportunity, and for starting with a clean slate.

Moving in and letting go

It is still winter, but at this time of year, one cannot help but start thinking of the spring. Hope, or faith then, is essentially a positive emotion and one that makes the yogic life not just better but actually possible. It is because of faith or trust that we can surrender, joyfully. When in meditation or asana, we experience thoughts, feelings or physical sensation: it is our attitude towards them that is so important.

Mantra yoga

As we delve in deeper to yoga through our practice and study, we find that surrender runs like a golden thread through its practice techniques and philosophy on many levels.

On the road to surrender, one needs to develop ethics (yama), refinement (niyama), posture (asana), pranayama (intimacty with the breath), pratyahara (sense withdrawal or ‘centering’), dharana (concentration), dhyana (absorption built from ‘relaxed concentration’, and samadhi (surrender to emptiness or infinite creativity).

Love and yoga

Having recently had Valentines Day and it being the season when nature’s critters are thinking about making young, one’ attention turns to love. There are many kinds of the stuff: romantic love, sexual love, motherly love and brotherly love, love of one’s country or one’s lifestyle. There is infatuation and there is spiritual love, there are soul mates and playmates and of course all the variants of mixing up theses different aspects of love together.

Letting go

Yoga means union when translated from sanskrit to English, or engagement.
It is through the process of engagement that the process of letting go is facilitated.

The more we endeavour to move towards the asana or to be fully concentrated on the mantra, meditation obect or breathing practice, or whichever other Yoga technique we employ, the more the mind’s presence is required and so pre-occupation has to diminish.

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Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand

— Mark Twain