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Quest for the Inner Elixir
We all experience life's sweet moments. These are so magical that you feel suffused with vitality and gratitude, slightly high. These flashes may come after working hard pursuing your passion – you just did a hard yoga class perfectly matched to your skill level, and now you are on your mat happy and exhausted. You labored for a month to put in a garden and are standing in the morning light beholding a little world of green. There is a new baby in the home, and now you are watching her sleep. You have been dancing for hours and the music has carried you away into a realm of pure motion. You traveled to a yoga retreat, and after days of asana, it feels miraculous just to breathe. You are drinking in the juicy essence of life, and it's holy.
We can call these elixir moments. After enduring, sweating, applying skill, and finding the right alignment, there is a gush of vitality. The universe doses you with a love potion, and now you are filled with vital energy and in love with life itself. One day during my meditation teacher training in 1969, I noticed that meditation encourages these moments to come more frequently and last longer. My teacher said, "Meditation gives the body the conditions it needs to produce its own inner elixirs – subtle hormones that nourish the senses and make the world seem delightful. Meditation is the practice of being in love with the essence of life, and you get better with practice." Throughout 47 years of practice I have found this to be true.
The yoga tradition has many names for the inner elixir produced by the body during practice. One of my favorites is amrita – "the nectar of immortality produced at the churning of the ocean of eternity." According to scholars, amrita refers to the drink that confers immortality and also to vitality and vital energy. This Sanskrit word amrita is related to the beautiful Greek word ambrosia, "elixir of life." Amrita, ambrosia. In meditation, you can rest so deeply within yourself that profound metabolic processes take place. The cells absorb infinity. The cells of your body metabolize eternity and drink the elixir of life.
Science also has names for the blissful chemicals the body produces during meditation. During the 60's and throughout the 1970's I was an experimental subject in physiological research at the University of California at Irvine and UCI Medical Center. Scientists there, in cooperation with others at UCLA and Harvard Medical School, found that during meditation, the body often enters a state of restfulness deeper than sleep, and this happens in just a few minutes. In this wonderful wakeful restfulness, the body can heal itself on a deep level and the mind can reboot its whole operating system. It's an incredible blessing. There are profound changes throughout the brain and body which have measurable benefits for health. Physiologically, meditation is the mirror opposite of the stress response, and this shows up almost immediately in measurements of metabolism, blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, muscle tension, and brain waves. I have to admit, though, that it was weird to be meditating in a physiology lab, with people in white coats running around sticking needles in my veins to take blood samples and putting wires all over my head and body to measure brain waves, heart rate, and electrical conductance of the skin.
More recent research indicates that meditation, yoga, and pranayama stimulate the brain to produce its own chemicals that are similar to the active ingredients in marijuana or cannabis. In honor of the plant, they gave these hormones the name endocannabinoids, from endo (internal, within) + cannabis. The brain has receptors for these types of molecules, called cannabis receptors, and it has lots of them – that is why an external substance such as cannabis has an effect on physiology. The brain also has the ability to produce its own happy hormones including the endocannabinoids, when stimulated by running (the runner's high), yoga, music, meditation, and breathing exercises.
When I was a student at UCI in the 60s, many of the students and my professors assumed I was happily stoned, because I walked around laughing all the time – the whole world was luminous, full of jokes. People would come up to me and ask where I got the stuff I was on, because it seemed to produce such a mellow buzz. I would patiently explain that I got up at 4 am, did two hours of yoga, pranayama and meditation, then went to the beach for a dawn patrol, caught a few waves, practiced Tai Chi on the beach as the sun rose, and then went to class. If we were in calculus class at 9 am, I already had five hours of delight in my body. What they were sensing was the effect of all that, not puffing on a weed.
You want to find the right mix of exercise and styles of yoga, meditation, and pranayama that excite your body to produce its own bliss hormones – your native endocannabinoids – and suffuse you with the elixir of happy vital energy. This brings its own challenges. Meditation is much wilder than you think, because intense relaxation leads to intense release of stress. This release of muscular and emotional tension is as hard to tolerate as running that last mile or staying in a difficult pose for another few minutes. When you let go of chronic muscle tension, you let down your guard, and whatever the tension has been holding at bay will be right there asking to be healed. Although more research on the biochemistry of meditation is needed, interviews indicate that the most powerful hormone rush comes from facing your deepest fears and letting go into profound states of ease in meditation.
This aspect of meditation is very muscular, and has some parallels to the physicality of sports. Meditators who are utterly at ease in their practice often experience tension release as extremely uncomfortable, like the "wall" that runners encounter, when they feel, "I can't take one more step." When you stay there and feel the wall, and then let it dissolve, there is a gush of joy as a reward. The fear is transmuted into excitement, and there is a liberation of shakti. A tangible, chemical satisfaction comes from within.
Life likes it when we are on our personal path of adventure, facing the inner obstacles and calling on our inner resources to handle them. This physical aspect of meditation also may help to deal with addictions to substances. Sometimes our bodies can become overly reliant on certain foods, drinks, or herbs in order to experience some blissful relief. Sanskrit has lots of words for addiction, such as rasikatva, "taste for, devotion to, addiction to." In meditation, we can reconnect with the body's natural bliss hormones, and this may help in recovery from relying on substances we have become addicted to.
A taste of chocolate, a sip of wine, a glass of beer, a shot of tequila, the scent of a burning herb – these can be profound experiences. When we have become reliant on an outer substance that seems magical there may come a time when you body says, “Okay, enough.” Whether it is sugar, caffeine, beer, wine, distilled alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, or various herbs and chemicals – at a certain point we have gotten what we can from letting that external substance remind us of life’s juiciness. Always be alert for that message from your body, and know how to find the path out of dependence. Give yourself time in meditation to allow your body to recover its ability to manage its own hormones of happiness. In The Radiance Sutras, Devi and Bhairava discuss 112 ways of entering the quiet ecstasy of everyday life. Find the doorways that work for you now.
The quest to find your personal practice is often perplexing, for we each have different elemental constitutions. To be truly at home and vibrantly alive in meditation, we need to customize the practice to suit our individual yearnings and preferences. For example, many people hate to sit still and close their eyes, "Why waste a minute stifling my energy when I could be dancing?" Other people detest being inside for one more minute, "Let's go outside and sit with our eyes open and commune with the beauty of nature!" Others absolutely love to sit still, close their eyes, and surrender to the world within. Find the style of practice that suits your inner constitution, and meditation will feel like the most natural thing in the world.
Lorin Roche is the author of The Radiance Sutras. With his wife Camille Maurine, he wrote Meditation Secrets for Women. Lorin began meditating in 1968 and is still in love with the thousands of practices available in the yoga tradition. He has a PhD from the University of California at Irvine, where he conducted research on the language of meditative experience. Dr. Roche loves doing private sessions and trains meditation teachers worldwide. Join Lorin and Camille at Esalen in Big Sur for a five day retreat, Wild Serenity in Love, January 24-29, 2016. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: lorinroche.com
What Do You Love?
Dr Lorin Roche
I love sex. I love food. I love sleeping. I love music. I love dancing. I love parties. I love dreaming, chocolate, movies, and walking the dogs. I love travel, seeing new places, and then returning home.
These are the kind of things people say if you listen. We all have our favorite everyday motions of life, moves that are deeply satisfying. These are also doorways into meditation. When we give in to the inward motion of love, and rest in the pure deliciousness of it, we enter a meditative state.
Our bodies are built for love. Meditation is a way of cultivating our love – savoring, giving in, and being intimate with life. Rejoicing in the flow of breath, listening to the inner music called mantra, delighting in the dance of energies in our bodies and chakras — these techniques of meditation are ways of making love with the energies of life. This is enriching on every level of body, heart, mind, and spirit. The essence of meditation is simple: select some aspect of life’s self-renewing rhythm that you are attracted to, and dive in. Allow yourself to be intrigued, and accept everything that you experience as part of your conversation with life. Let meditation be the most natural thing in the world.
The urge to merge, to melt into love with the essence of life, is one of a human being’s strongest urges. It’s unstoppable. All the techniques of meditation, the thousands of different approaches, emerge from this primal yearning to be in an intimate loving relationship with the life force. In yoga, we call the life force pranashakti, (prana = the breath of life, respiration, spirit, vitality, + Shakti or śakti - power, ability, strength, might, effort, energy, capability.) Meditation is a way of allowing our bodies to be in love with pranashakti and be loved in return. This love is the primordial attraction of the individual being toward the universal energies which sustain and nourish us, and this is the power source, the engine of our evolution. When we awaken to the realization that meditation is resting in the current of what we love, then the whole world opens up. Deep practice and deep rejuvenation become possible.
If you are not in a consistent meditation practice that excites and soothes you, it may be because you are going about it in a way that does not thrill you. Your approach may be unnatural to you, against your nature, what is called pratiloma — “against the grain, contrary to the natural order, adverse, hostile, unpleasant.” It is easy to fall into what for you is pratiloma, because most meditation techniques were evolved to suit the needs of male monks, Buddhist or Hindu, in the past. Monks generally take vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience; their meditation practices often involve detaching from desire and attempting to kill the desire for sex. Monks aren’t supposed to jump up from their meditation and have sex. For a recluse, practicing detachment is dharma, it leads to freedom. But as Krishna says in the Bhagavad-Gita, “The dharma of another brings danger.”
Whatever style of life you have chosen, monastic or “householder,” you can tune your meditation practice so that it energizes you for whatever activities you will do for the rest of the day. If you are not a monk living in a religious order, then you may want meditation to support and inspire a great sex life, a dynamic work life, and the freedom to express your individuality. Anuloma — “with the hair or grain, in a natural direction,” during meditation practice is to celebrate every desire in every part of your body. On the lover’s path, the path of intimacy, you want your meditation to inspire you and fill you with vital energy so that you want to ravish, or be ravished by, your lover, and then go live life to the fullest. An anuloma practice feels like a relief, a vacation, and you look forward to the next time you get to treat yourself to meditation.
When I interview people who are lit up from inside with joy from their life and their meditation practice, this is how they talk:
I love meditating in the morning with my husband, it is wonderful. Every moment is different. Sometimes we make passionate love after meditating, sometimes we kiss and run out the door.
I love having the time to catch up with myself, sort out all my thoughts, be with all my feelings. During meditation my mind is so busy usually, but afterwards I feel so clear, and this clarity carries through the day.
Meditation for me feels like a party, to which all my chakras are invited, and I am there serving drinks and appetizers while they chat away to each other and occasionally get into arguments about who is most important.
I love taking the dogs for a long walk in the morning, and afterwards I sit and meditate, and attempt to breathe each breath with as much gusto and enthusiasm as the dogs do as they inhale every smell.
When I meditate, I feel at home in myself, more than at any other time in my life. And at the same time there is a sense of freshness, I am continually discovering new levels to who I am. So it’s like travel. Sitting in one spot and traveling the universe.
People who thrive in meditation year after year, say things like this and discover new combinations continually. It’s very personal. Meditating in this way enhances the senses and the capacity for enjoyment, so the effect of a healthy practice is that daily life takes on a quality of freshness and journeying, even if you stay in the same place physically. An anuloma practice creates a sense of novelty, delight and adventure.
Take a Walk
The next time you take a walk or have some time to yourself, give yourself the gift of wondering, “What do I love so much that I want to melt into it, merge with it, be suffused with it? What aspect of pranashakti, of life’s undulating energies, am I in love with?” In so doing, you are recalibrating your compass, your internal guidance system, orienting toward what helps you to partake in the richness of life.
Love calls our attention and engages us. Life is a mysterious, self-renewing process. The techniques of meditation are ways of allowing the ecstasy of pranashakti, the life-force at play, to renew our bodies and souls. Ask your body to teach you and to take you on adventures into intimacy with your own essence.
Return to the Luminous
Wherever your mind wanders, return to the luminous. Sutra 28
yathā tathā yatra tatra dvādaśānte manaḥ kṣipet |
prati kṣaṇaṁ kṣīṇa vṛtter vailakṣaṇyaṁ dinair bhavet || 51 ||
Looking in the superb Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary, we see:
- yathā - in which manner or way, according as, as, like. as, for instance, namely. as it is or was (elliptically). That, so that, in order that. As soon as. As, because, since. As if.
- tatha - in that manner
- yathā tathā in whatever way, in any way, by all means.
- yathā tathā , " in whatever manner " , " in every way " , " anyhow "
- yatra - in or to which place, where, wherein, wherever, whither RV. &c (yatra yatra, "wherever", " whithersoever"; yatra tatra or yatra tatrā*pi," anywhere whatever," on which occasion, in which case, if, when, as, whenever, in order that.
- tatra - in that place
- yatra tatra - anywhere whatever
- dvādaśa - the twelfth. Forming 12 with. Consisting of 12, 12 fold RV. A collection or aggregate of 12.
- anta - end, limit, boundary, term. End of a texture. End, conclusion. End of life, death, destruction. A final syllable, termination. Last word of a compound. Pause, settlement, definite ascertainment, certainty. Whole amount. Border, outskirt. Nearness, proximity, presence. Inner part, inside. Condition, nature. In the end, at last. In the inside.
- dvadashanta - [in the sacred space of the heart, in the area above the head. It could be, imagine that all the sacred spaces of your body are vibrating with emptiness, shimmering spaciousness.
- dvadasha-anta, “the end of 12,” often referring to the two polarities between which breath oscillates, pendulums.
- [dvadasanta - “the end of twelve fingers” the sacred spaces in and around the body. Above the head, in front of the nose, within the heart, for a distance of 12 inches from the skin in all directions (the pranamayakosha).]
- manas - mind (in its widest sense as applied to all the mental powers), intellect, intelligence, understanding, perception, sense, conscience, will, in philosophy: the internal organ or antaḥ-karaṇa of perception and cognition, the faculty or instrument through which thoughts enter or by which objects of sense affect the soul; in this sense manas is always regarded as distinct from ātman and puruṣa, "spirit or soul" and belonging only to the body. It is sometimes joined with hṛd or hṛdaya, the heart, with cakṣus, the eye) the spirit or spiritual principle, the breath or living soul which escapes from the body at death. Thought, imagination, excogitation,invention, reflection, opinion, intention, inclination, affection, desire, mood, temper, spirit.
- ksipet - to throw, cast, send, dispatch, to move hastily (the arms or legs), to throw a glance (as the eye), to strike or hit (with a weapon), to direct the thoughts upon, to throw away, cast away, get rid of, to lay the blame on, to utter abusive words, insult, to throw into, to cause to descend into.
- pratikṣaṇam - at every moment, continually. MW. (prati + kshanam, instant)
- prati - towards, near to. Against, in opposition to. Back, again, in return. Down upon, upon, on. opposite , before , in the presence of (e.g. rodasī pr° , before heaven and earth RV. ) or used distributively (cf. Pa1n2. 1-4 , 90) to express at every , in or on every , severally (e.g.yajñam pr° , at every sacrifice Ya1jn5. ; yajñaṁ yajñam pr° TS. ; varṣam pr° , every year , annually Pan5cat. ; in this sense often comp. ; cf. above )
- ksana - instant, any instantaneous point in time, twinkling of an eye, leisure moment, vacant time, a fit or suitable moment, opportunity, a festival, the center, middle.
- kṣīṇa - diminished, wasted, expended, lost, destroyed, worn away, waning (as the moon). Weakened, injured, broken, torn, emaciated, feeble. Delicate, slender. Poor, miserable.
- - diminished, worn away.
- vritti - vritti means vortex or circular activity with no beginning and no end, the way your energies flow. Preoccupations, addictions, character, vritti - vritti * =f. rolling, rolling down” Vrittis), in the context of Hinduism and its yoga stream, is the name given to different tendencies which come to our mind without our conscious knowledge. As a word, vritti means vortex or circular activity with no beginning and no end The word vritti means ‘a vortex’, ‘a circular activity which has no beginning and no end’. Yoga describes five kinds of vrittis. Preoccupations, addictions, character
- vailak sanyam - wonderful state, different characteristics
- vailakṣaṇya - difference , disparity , diverseness. indeterminableness , indescribableness. Strangeness.
- dina - a day. mfn. ( √ do) cut , divided , mowed RV. Viii.
- dinair - day by day
- bhavet - becomes. (representing a possibility, a hoped-for state, a potential “It could become.”
- Bhava - becoming, being, existing, turning or transition into, state, condition, true condition, reality, manner of being, temperament, any state of mind or body, way of thinking or feeling, sentiment, intention, love, affection, attachment; the seat of the feelings or affections, heart, soul, mind; wanton sport, dalliance.
- bhāva - becoming, being, existing, occurring, appearance. Turning or transition into. Continuance. State, condition, true condition. Reality, manner of being, temperament, character. Any state of mind or body, way of thinking or feeling, sentiment, opinion, intention, love, affection, attachment. to feel an affection for; the seat of the feelings or affections, heart, soul, mind; That which is or exists, thing or substance, being or living creature, all earthly objects. Wanton sport, dalliance. (in rhet.) passion, emotion (2 kinds of bhāvas are enumerated, the sthāyin or primary, and vyabhicārin or subordinate; the former are 8 or 9 according as the rasas or sentiments are taken to be 8 or 9; the latter 33 or 34). (in astron.) the state or condition of a planet. An astrological house or lunar mansion. Name of the 8th (42nd) year in Jupiter's cycle of 60 years. (in gram.) the fundamental notion of the verb, the sense conveyed by the abstract noun. Place of birth, the womb. The world, universe. An organ of sense. Superhuman power. The Supreme Being. Advice, instruction. Contemplation, meditation.
Breath Is Exciting
by Dr Lorin Roche
During a workshop the other day, a woman said, “Breath is exciting.” She spoke with the delight of a woman talking about a delicious and slightly dangerous love affair. Victoria (not her real name) continued, “Ever since I was a little girl, I have known this. I grew up in Australia, in a wild area on the northeast coast. Starting when I was about seven years old, a group of us girls would go for long walks in the wilderness. One of my friends was Aboriginal, and she was a little older, maybe eight. She was completely at home in the wilderness. We learned by walking behind and beside her, doing what she did. We would walk for hours in silence through the forest, sniffing the air, listening to the sounds of nature. I learned that every footstep is quietly thrilling. And when you breathe in, the air teaches you about everything around – what kind of plants and animals are there.”
The group wanted to hear more, so she added, “When you walk in nature with your senses open, every step is full-body sensuality, you feel electricity everywhere. Your skin wakes up and you can feel the life around you in all directions. It’s almost sexual. You greedily sniff the air, and you really use your nose as you smell the scent of the trees and plants and animals. Your eyes open in a new way as you see each leaf, bug, and bird. The light and sky, how they change every moment. If you are trying to walk quietly, you feel the ground as you gently place each foot.”
In the workshop, we had been reading The Radiance Sutras, and one of the words used to describe breath is marut: “Lightning and thunderbolts, roaring like lions. The flashing ones, shining ones, storm gods, Indra’s companions, children of heaven or of the ocean, armed with golden weapons, lightning and thunderbolts. Wind, air, breath, and the five winds, or pranas, in the body. The god of the wind, father of Hanuman.” (The Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary, p. 790). Victoria read this definition to the group, and added, “This is why I have never understood meditation teachers always talking about breathing to calm down. They make it so boring. Who wants to calm down? I want to be thrilled to be alive. I want to feel connected to nature always. I want to feel how exciting it is when storms blow in off the ocean.” We all just sat there in stunned silence, because we knew we were hearing something fresh and real.
maruto'ntar bahir vāpi
viyad yugmānivartanāt |
bhairavi vyajyate vapuḥ || 25 ||
marutah antah bahih vaa api
ittham bhairavi vi-ajyate vapuh
The life essence carries on its play
Through the pulsing rhythm
Of outward and inward movement,
This is the ceaseless throb, the rhythm of life—
Terrifying in its eternity, exquisite in its constancy.
The inhalation, the return movement of breath, Sustains life.
The outgoing breath Purifies life.
These are the two poles
Between which respiration goes on unceasingly.
Between them is every delight you could desire.
Even when the senses are turned outward,
Your attention on the external world,
Attend also to the inner throb,
The pulsing of the creative impulse within you.
Marut suggests that breath is wild and magical, like lightning. When you practice with breath, feel free to let go of your civilized self and welcome your wildness, your storms. You are part of nature, part of the Earth, you are a dynamic and self-sustaining little system within the larger ecosphere. The electrifying magnificent heavenly breath, marut, keeps on quickening the life-force, rolling on, rotating between an inward and outward flow.
When you are meditating with the breath you can do nothing—take an attitude of ease and simply enjoy the show as this magic stuff flows inward, turns, and then flows outward and turns again. You can luxuriate in the flow and welcome the flash of ever-changing sensations, emotions, and thoughts. Breath is self-propelling, and you breathe just fine even when you are not aware at all – when you are sleeping. If you make an effort to pay attention to breath, you may miss out on experiencing its magic.
Marut suggests that lightning is flashing in the body. Breath is moved by sparks of electricity in the muscles of respiration. All these pulsating tissues that work to welcome each breath into the body and then push it out. Even our thoughts are waves of subtle electricity flashing through your body and brain. Your heart beats every second or so, and each pulsing of the heart is incited by a little spark of electricity. Welcome it all. Revel in it as you would the rain if the land is dry. Breathing is part of nature.
Surprisingly, one of the common reasons people feel they are “failing at meditation” is because when they close their eyes they immediately begin to feel little tiny electrical shocks. Nothing has prepared them to welcome the dynamic electricity of the life force that is showing up in every moment of breathing, feeling, and thinking. The peace is there inside the electricity. Breath is exciting, and it propels itself. It’s a charging, dynamic process of life, roaring along. If you want to know peace, let breath excite you.
If you want to explore your relationship with the electricity inside each breath, you might whisper one of these thoughts to yourself:
I am awake to the electricity of life.
The dynamic power of breath is renewing me
moment by moment by moment.
Nature is wild and serene, and so am I.
When you use a phrase such as one of these as a tool of thought in meditation (mantra = manas, mind, , pulsate with it. Whisper or think the phrase, very lightly. Then notice whatever feelings, sensations, or images the phrase evokes. Enjoy the sensations of breathing for a few moments. Then gently think the phrase again. Welcome all random thoughts, and don’t judge your experience. Anything you are tempted to try to block out is actually some part of your own life electricity and wildness—your marut energy—that needs your attention.
We human beings sometimes have a better intuitive grasp of our tools and gadgets than we do of our own bodies. We know our electronics run on electricity and our phones need charging. As you explore the sensations that are flowing in your body right now as you are breathing right now, welcome all the sensations, whether they be of tension or delight, as manifestations of the ongoing flashing of lightning that is life itself.
Dr. Lorin Roche is the author of The Radiance Sutras, a fresh version of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, a classic yoga text describing 112 doorways into meditation. With his dancer wife Camille Maurine, he is co-author of Meditation Secrets for Women. Lorin has been training meditation teachers for over 40 years and works with individuals to fine-tune their meditation practice to go with their physical, emotional, and spiritual constitution.
Rivers of Power
Dr. Lorin Roche
From LA YOGA
It’s a hot afternoon in the desert, at Bhaktifest in Joshua Tree and my energies are starting to fade. The chanting has been going on around the clock for days and I feel saturated. What sounds good right now is to go jump in a nearby cool salt-water pool. As I get out of hearing range of the festival, I realize the chanting is still going on inside me. And although it is quieter, this internal soundtrack feels powerful. Somehow my atoms are dancing and singing the hymns of praise to the Goddess and the God, Devi and Shiva, Radha and Krishna. It’s the Bollywood of the atoms. Maybe that’s what atoms are – tiny powerful electrical charges dancing in circles, vibrating with ecstatic praise. After swimming, I lie down and fade into something like a nap, but I remain conscious. There is a festival within. And it’s calling me.
In The Radiance Sutras, Shiva sings to Devi, the Goddess:
Rivers of power flowing everywhere.
Fields of magnetism relating everything.
This is your origin. This is your lineage.
The current of creation is right here,
Coursing through subtle channels,
Animating this very form.
Follow the gentle touch of life,
Soft as the footprint of an ant,
As tiny sensations open to vastness.
Power sings as it flows,
Electrifies the organs of sensing,
Becomes liquid light,
Nourishes your entire being.
Celebrate the boundary
Where streams join the sea,
Where body meets infinity.
When the sound of the ancient, gorgeous language of Sanskrit is transcribed into Roman letters, we see:
sarva sroto nibandhena prāṇa śakty ordhvayā śanaiḥ |
pipīla sparśa velāyām prathate paramaṁ sukham
If we spell out the sounds:
sarva srotah ni-bandhana praana–shakti–oordhvayaa shanaih
pipeela sparsha velaayaam prathate paramam sukham
Looking in the Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary we see a rich spectrum of images.
Sarva - whole, entire, all, everything, all together, completely, in all parts, everywhere.
Srotas - the current or bed of a river, a stream. Rushing water. The channel or current of nutrition in the body. An aperture in the human or animal body. An organ of sense. Lineage, pedigree.
Nibandha - binding, tying, attachment to, intentness on, basis, root, origin, a grant of property, any literary composition or work, song, singing. (Bandha refers to many types of bonding or connection and has a wide semantic field including: a tendon, arranging a sequence of musical sounds, arranging the body during sex.)
Prana - filled, full, the breath of life, respiration, spirit, vitality, vigor, energy, power, poetical inspiration.
Shakti - power, ability, strength, might, effort, energy, capability, skill, effectiveness of a remedy, regal power, the energy or active power of a deity personified as his wife. The power or signification of a word, the creative power of imagination (of a poet).
Urdhva - rising or tending upwards, raised, elevated, erected, erect, upright, high, above, higher.
Sanais - quietly, softly, gently, gradually, alternately.
Pipela - ant.
Sparsha - touching, the sense of touch, contact, the quality of tangibility. Feeling, sensation.
Vela - limit, boundary, end, distance, boundary of sea and land, limit of time, period, season, time of day, opportunity, leisure, tide, flow.
Prath - to spread, extend, unfold, become known or celebrated, to come to light, appear, arise, to occur to the mind, reveal, shine upon, give light to.
Param - far, distant, remote in space, opposite, farther than, beyond, on the other or farther side of, previous in time, former, ancient, past. Later, future, next. Following, succeeding, subsequent. Final, last. The Supreme or Absolute Being, the Universal Soul. The highest point or degree. The wider or more extended meaning of a word.
Sukha - originally applying to chariots "having a good axle-hole," running swiftly or easily, agreeable, mild, comfortable, happy. Prosperous. Virtuous. In music, a particular mūrchanā or style of music. One of one of the 9 Shaktis of Shiva. Pleasure, happiness, joy, delight in.
There are moments when we awaken to the delightful life force that is always active everywhere – this may happen in the middle of practice, whether it be dancing, singing, asana flow, pranayama, or meditation. Awakenings may come to you by surprise, in the hours or days after practice. When we sense the currents of pranashakti flowing through our bodies, we naturally respond with awe, wonder, and delight. Awe is healing.
In any such awakening, let all your senses drink in the nourishment, for prana is singing as she flows, nurturing everything. Be awake to touch, smell, taste, vision, hearing, both on the outer and obvious levels, and in the realm of tiny, tingling, little sensations.
Power is always flowing everywhere in your body. This is your origin and lineage. You were born this way. When we practice meditation, we don’t have to make energy flow – our practices allow our senses to delight in the flow already present. There is a happiness here that does not depend on anything other than accepting the gift of existence. We are invited to absorb nutrition from prana, sense it, feel the motion, the current of life, and know this is my origin. This is my lineage. This is me.
The stream of the life force can feel like a rushing current or a subtle flow. With breathing, a way to practice this is to breathe or chant vigorously, then let go and pay attention to subtle sensations. You could chant out loud for five or fifteen minutes, then sit quietly and listen as the resonances of the chants continue spontaneously in your mind and heart and body, and you are carried into the festival within.
The Radiance Sutras 112 Gateways to The Yoga of Wonder and Delight
A new version of the vijnana bhairava tantra
by Lorin Roche