Focus oft the Month, June 2018: THE MAGIC TEN & BEYOND I
abhyāsa-vairāgyābhyāṁ tan nirodhah
“The cessation of all vrittis, of all thinking and modifications of the mindstuff, is brought about by persistent inner practice of Self-abidance, abiding in the ‘I-am’ beyond the body and mind, and by non attachment through discrimination.”
PYS I.12 (Commentary by Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati)
Magic happens when there is a shift in perception, perception of yourself, others and the world. For the yoga practitioner, that shift is a movement away from false identification with the temporary and towards that which is eternal. Every serious practitioner of any art or science knows that to become accomplished, to feel at ease with your art, both practice and humility are necessary. Ultimately Self-realization is a solitary journey inward and because of that we should develop independence—dependence inward. The journey within is the journey toward the eternal atman and so it is a timeless journey without end. The Magic Ten and Beyond is a practical book, offering guidance to the traveler of infinity.
Through repetition the magic is forced to rise. For a practice to yield sweet fruit it must be done regularly—daily is best. It should become a habit, a good habit like brushing your teeth. And like brushing your teeth, a daily yoga practice doesn’t have to take all day. Do it first thing in the morning and allow the benefits to unfold throughout the rest of the day. But if for some reason you are unable to do your practice first thing in the morning then do it later in the day or last thing before bed. The important thing is that you do it. Over time with consistent regular daily practice, along with a sense of detachment regarding specific results, the benefits will accumulate on their own accord. Abhyasa means to sit with something for a long time and vairaga means detachment. To practice, all the while being unconcerned with the results of the practice, is the way of the yogi who knows how to let go and let God. Transformation is always subtle and gradual, but non-the-less inevitable, if you’re willing to commit to consistency in your practice and sincerely surrender its fruits. Do your best and let God do the rest.
Yoga means to remember your connection to the Supreme Source, eternal happiness itself—the kind of happiness that is not dependent on any thing or condition. Yoga teaches that within each living being there is an eternal soul, the atman. Yoga practices enable us to reconnect to the atman and to understand that our mortal bodies are not who we really are—they are dwelling places for our immortal soul. Over time the practices alchemically transform our perception of who we are from the doer to the participant. The realized yogi lives in the world as an instrument for the light of truth. There are many yoga practices that can guide a person along the way to that magical remembering of who he or she really is—some of those practices are explored in this book in the form of mantras, prayers, blessings, affirmations, visualizations, asanas, dance steps, kriyas, pranayama, meditation, deep relaxation and feeding the birds.
The Sanskrit word sadhana means “conscious spiritual practice.” What distinguishes a yoga practice from a physical fitness exercise routine is the intention. When you engage in an activity with the conscious intention for it to bring you closer to enlightenment, then it is sadhana. Sadhana is never something you do for yourself. It is always about getting over yourself, your separate ego self, and awakening to how you are part of a higher Divine Self. But without the essential ingredient of bhakti, which means “devotion or love for God,” to help you relinquish doer-ship, your practices could keep you ego-centered and goal oriented, identified with your body and mind, tossed about by the ups and downs of life, bound in mundane reality and the pursuit of temporary happiness through material accumulation and forgetfulness of the real doer—the Supreme Self.
In this book I also share some of my ideas regarding the history of yoga and my speculations regarding a possible connection with ancient Egypt. Ten years ago this intuition led me to visit Egypt. While in the Great Pyramid lying in the King’s chamber I had an out of bodyexperience. A day later while at the Cairo Museum I saw a painting of a yogini in what appeared to be an asana and met an Egyptologist who would show me a magic circle, called a cartouche, containing ten hieroglyphs that looked to me like they could be describing yoga practices.