Yoga Break: Body Way of Dealing with Stress
Merging with Siva
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2022-11-02
Higher planes of consciousness are open to souls through normal spiritual paths, however, those using illicit drugs may be caught on the lower astral plane, unable to expand consciousness; the devas will close all doors. Penetrate the eternity of the moment, achieve an in-rush of spiritual energy by the practice of relaxation, releasing muscle tension, visualization of light diffusing through your entire being: a yoga break. Experience effulgent, rejuvenating power, the Self, flooding through the real You. Practices for reducing stress include: breathing from the diaphragm, the yoga break, daily spiritual/religious vigil, and hatha yoga. "Guru Chronicles, Master Course Trilogy, Merging with Siva, Lesson 10, Managing Chronic Stress, Publisher's Desk, April 2018.
Good morning everyone.
Continuing in "Merging with Siva" chronological order. We are still in Chapter 10, "From Darkness to Light" 1965. That's when it was given at the San Francisco Temple. And we have some background from the "Guru Chronicles" in that time period:
"In early 1967 Gurudeva arranged to meet with Dr. Richard Alpert, who, along with Dr. Timothy Leary, had become a kind of LSD evangelist, urging American youth to 'Tune in, turn on and drop out' (famous phrase). The meeting was arranged by a young monk, who accompanied Gurudeva. Over a spaghetti dinner in a Berkeley apartment, they discussed the illuminating and sometimes devastating states of mind provoked by LSD. Gurudeva told him that the higher planes were open to souls who reached them through normal means, but when unqualified people began to show up astrally using drugs, the devas closed all doors. Gurudeva alerted him to stop what he and Timothy Leary were doing, right away. Any souls using drugs would be caught in the lower astral plane, unable to expand their consciousness.
"The errant former Harvard professor, who had taken LSD hundreds of times, leaned forward and listened most intently when, toward evening's end, Gurudeva gave him stern warnings of the karmas he was creating by putting all these young lives at risk. Alpert was entreated, firmly, to desist; and though he did not say he would, that conversation may well have led to his life-transforming journey to India--where he became a devotee of Neem Karoli Baba, who gave him the name Ram Dass--and his change of mind soon thereafter, when he publicly spoke against LSD." (Interesting background.)
Then we get the text Lesson 69: "The Yoga Break."
So, before we start the text I have some general information on stress and tension from our expert source, of course, the World Wide Web. So these are from a couple of different sources on the web.
"Stress is your body's reaction to a challenge or demand.
"Your body reacts to stress by releasing hormones. These hormones make your brain more alert, cause your muscles to tense, and increase your pulse.
"In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline. But when stress lasts for a long time, it may harm your health.
"Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stress--the body's way of guarding against injury and pain. With sudden onset stress, the muscles tense up all at once, and then release their tension when the stress passes. Chronic stress causes the muscles in the body to be in a more or less constant state of guardedness.
"It may not surprise you that psychological stress causes muscle tension, but it goes the other way as well: muscle tension causes psychological stress. This is good news--it means that by reducing your muscle tension, you can relieve your anxiety."
So that's the point I wanted to lead up to cause that relates to the text about Gurudeva's making suggestions on releasing muscle tension and thereby reducing anxiety and stress.
"The yoga break is a break in time in which one may penetrate the eternity of the moment. It is practiced in this way. If you find yourself nervous, upset, confused, drained of energy, lie down on the nearest flat, hard surface, not a bed or sofa, for they will not offer the proper support to your spine. Stretch out, preferably on the floor, take a deep breath and command your body and your mind to relax, to release, to let go of all thoughts and tensions of the moment. Don't bother trying to make your mind blank, but simply visualize yourself floating, relaxing on a cloud buoyed up in space, as it were, apart from all the problems and tensions of the Earth. Your eyes are closed, your hands are relaxed by your side, and as you inhale, gently lift the stomach muscles so that the lower part of the lungs fill with air before the upper part of the chest does. Visualize a powerful light flooding into your solar plexus as you breathe in, charging all the batteries of the nervous system, filling your body and mind with energy and positive will. As you exhale, feel this light energy diffusing into every part of your body, filtering down through the legs, through the arms, out through your fingers, up through the top of your head. As this light floods and fills your body while you breathe out, it expels ahead of it all the bothers and tensions of the day. After a few minutes, your breathing will have gained a deep rhythm. You will feel the life force within you build, and you will be regenerated through the lifting of the spiritual force within your own body. With the in rush of new energy you will feel inspiration returning to your mind, for as the body relaxes, so does the mind relax. If you are especially tense before you begin the yoga break, your muscles may relax quickly, and they will sometimes give a little jerk or twitch as the nervous system disentangles itself. By the time five minutes have passed in the prone position, with your mind solely occupied with the rhythm of your breath and the visualization of the physical body floating on a cloud--filling itself with light as it inhales, distributing the light throughout the body as it exhales--you may feel the in-rush of energy flooding through you, as if a hose had some where been opened. The yoga break gives perspective in the middle of the busy day, when your mind tends to become tensely narrowed by details."
Then we get Lesson 70:
"People who live under tension all of the time are like a machine. They are a product of the material world. Only when they release that tension may they become creative again, products of the soul. In a relaxed state, happiness is found, and the qualities of the soul shine forth. Selfish, greedy people are tense, concerned, often inhibited. Tension breeds negative thinking. Relaxation gives birth to positive creations. If you have little or no control over your mind, it will be difficult for you to find even five minutes during your day in which to place your body in a prone position. Watch then the tendency of your mind to live over and recreate the circumstances that were occupying your mind before you began your yoga break. If you are going to relive the details of your day during your five-minute yoga break, neither your body nor your mind will relax enough to allow the in-rush of spiritual energy that should be yours. And if you cannot take even five minutes out of your day to enjoy the relaxation of a yoga break, if you are so wound up and so busy, you may be headed for an illness of some kind. A nervous disorder may finally catch up with you as the years go by, because the physical forces cannot stand constant tension.
"The best time to take a yoga break is when you feel that you have the least time. If your world were suddenly to fall down around you, leaving you standing alone with no one to lean on, no finances, no family, no friends, where would your power come from? You would have to, in that moment, re-experience the same power that you felt flooding through you as you lay concentrated and relaxed...You would have to, in that moment, re-experience the same power that you felt flooding through you as you lay concentrated and relaxed upon the floor. That effulgent, rejuvenating power is the Self, the real You, flowing through 'your' mind and 'your' body.
"Freedom from worldly tensions is only achieved to the degree in which people are able to control the forces of their own mind. In this control they are able to lean upon the power of their own inner security, found in the eternity of the moment. In that moment, your inner strength is found. So, take your yoga break whenever you feel even a little tired physically, a little nervous, a little distraught. This is the time, not when you have time."
So, in my commentary I'll mention some ideas from my April 2018 "Publisher's Desk" entitled "Managing Chronic Stress." It shares four practices for reducing stress drawn from Gurudeva's teachings.
The first is breathing from the diaphragm. The second is the yoga break that we just read about. The third is taking time each morning for a short spiritual/religious practice, a short vigil. And the fourth is hatha yoga.
So the yoga, the yoga break is just one of four practices Gurudeva gives in the Trilogy for reducing tension and stress.
Diaphragmatic breathing is an important part of my standard advice given when asked for blessings for a major exam. So that happens particularly in Asia and in starting around so young an age, 9 or something, they have these life changing exams in Asia. They come up at the end of the year and based upon how you do you get placed in different study groups. So, if you don't do well, right, early on you get placed in a lesser study group. So huge amount of pressure and it's interesting, they're not done during school time so if you're used to the western idea everyone's on vacation for two months. But that's when they take their exams. So the exams are independent of going to classes. So the end of the year these exams occur.
And I regularly get asked for advice so I have standard advice:
Because Lord Ganesha governs the higher intellectual mind, this is why it is both important and effective to worship Him before all major exams. Specifically, attend a temple and have an archana to Lord Ganesha a day or so before the exam. Also visualize Ganesha at the beginning of and during the exam. In this way His blessings help us do our best in the exam.
It is also important to stay relaxed during the exam. A simple way to do this is to breathe deeply from the diaphragm and on each is also important to stay relaxed during the exam. A simple way to do this is to breathe deeply from the diaphragm and on each out breath consciouslly relax. Practice this at home for a few days before the exam and then do it regularly during the exam for approximately thirty seconds at a time.
So that's an effective combination there to help someone do better on their exam. Extra worship of Lord Ganesha and relaxing through diaphragmatic breathing.
Thank you very much. Have a wonderful day.