Thursday, 6 August 2020

With eyes that shine

This may have involved borrowing or taking ideas from wrestling and or gymnastics or perhaps the physical yoga poses that already existed where given a new lease of life or a more modern interpretation. As for how these more modern day (non-seated) yoga poses developed - An 1899 article Anatomy of a contortionist shows what would many years later, become yoga poses (including foot behind the head pose, chin stand and hanuman splits)1. How or who merged these exercises or movements into the existing yoga poses handarticle is anyone's guess. Scandinavian gymnastics was also a huge influence in what we know of today as the modern yoga poses. A 1944 Danish text shows what would later become the Warrior poses, downward facing dog and the reclining thunderbolt pose2. Traditional Indian dance and Indian wrestling was also hugely influential in yoga adapting and becoming more popular. From the 1850s onwards, a culture of physical exercise developed in India to counter the colonial stereotype of supposed degeneracy of Indians compared to the British3. Almost there, as you step down into the next room. Isn't it so nice to know that you've already tapped into this feedback loop of healing? Stepping down into the next room. You may notice a pleasant, dreamlike state come to you--now or at some point in this journey. Isn't it wonderful to know that any sort of dreamy feeling you notice means the mindbody is at already at work? Almost there now. That's right. You're doing so wonderfully already . Next-to-last room. Feeling twice or maybe even three times as comfortable, calm, and carefree as you were on the floor before. Start with someone low on your list, not your rageaholic father. Then you can get a taste of forgiveness quickly. After that you can proceed to tackle more challenging targets.

Honestly address your feelings. Talk to friends, your therapist, or other supportive people, but get the anger out. I also recommend writing your feelings down in a journal to purge negativity. Then decide whether you want to raise the issue with that person. If so, use the Rules for Compassionate Communication, presented later in this article. Begin to forgive. Hold the person you're angry with clearly in your mind's eye. It is a euphemism for ending one's own life. My wife and I glibly state that, when the time comes and the burden of disease becomes too great, and while we are mentally capable, one freezing night one of us might head off into the woods with a bottle of that very fine single-malt whisky. Our frozen body will be found a few days later beside the empty bottle, the contents having vasodilated us into a drunken stupor and hypothermia. I noted when reading Paul Kalanithi's memoir When Breath Becomes Air that he was drinking Ardbeg in his last few days. It seems to be the whisky of choice for those in the departure lounge of life. My parents thought they had their own solution, proudly displaying their DNAR forms on the hall dresser in the belief that this was the end of the matter, no doubt very impressed with their own modern thinking. DNAR is just the beginning, and the easy bit. CPR, as we have seen, is hardly ever successful outside hospital and only works with those patients who have a treatable cardiac condition. It does not work for a heart that has stopped at the end of a series of illnesses and general decline, which is the way of most deaths now. DNAR, SchNAR. Physical fitness was not just an Indian fascination, in early 1900 the fame of the bodybuilder Eugene Sandow (1867-1925) also made it internationally, very much in vogue to look after one's physical appearance. It is said that Sandow deserves the credit for the international craze for physical fitness. In his article;

Sandow visited India in 1905 and made such a wave with his physique and popularity, being referred to as the `fakir of physical culture', that physical yoga borrowed many of Sandow's exercises and routines. Much of Sandow's influence owes to his approach. Rather than play up the gritty iron side of weightlifting, Sandow presented his approach to Calcutta as a kind of `meditation with muscles'. In a Bengali newspaper, Sandow said; It is the cooperation of the mind with the body that makes the system so unique and explains the great results which have been attained4. This boom in the physical culture is perhaps the key reason why you and I are so fascinated in yoga today. Some poses such as `bridge' and `wheel' may also be, dare I say it, `inspired' by the Kama Sutra. Notice now, where in your body do you feel the most relaxed? Is there a part of the body that feels particularly comfortable? If you'd like, allow that relaxation to spread over the rest of you--visualizing yourself moving it over the organ, cells, or system you'd like to optimize. Take all the time you'd like here to enjoy this type of experience you're feeling now. That's right. Now that you've felt the body make its way down through these rooms into this healing temple or spa you've pictured for yourself, you've probably noticed the brain begin to slow itself down into a calm state of healing, which, as you know, is enhancing the two-way feedback loop of healing. In just a moment, you'll feel the body start to float upward as your consciousness begins to expand and I count up from one to seven. As these two things happen--body floating and consciousness expanding--you may notice an even deeper sense of carefree comfort and calmness. And many people notice how nice it feels when the body floats. I wonder if you'll notice that it begins to transform sensations. Then ask yourself, What emotional shortcomings caused him or her to treat me poorly? This is what you want to have compassion for, the area to forgive. Definitely do everything possible not to subject yourself to shabby treatment, but reach for compassion for the person's emotional blindness or cold heart.

Forgiveness from hurt flows from this. Here are a few suggestions of how forgiveness can work in a range of situations where you'd have every right to be angry. It establishes a kinder mind-set whether or not you decide to confront someone. A good friend acts inconsiderately when she's having a bad day. Remember, nobody's perfect. You may want to let the incident slide. If you do mention it, don't make this onetime slight into a big deal. It's not the issue. Move on already. After Dad's death we found letters addressed to each of his children. My heart sank. Dad was always a man of letters, particularly letters to the dying. When my brother-in-law Tom's father had a massive stroke and was unable to speak but could understand the spoken word, a long letter of comfort was produced by Dad, outlining his belief in an afterlife. To Dad, heaven was a place full of beautiful golf courses, and this was one of his fairway-to-heaven missives. As if the dying don't have enough to bear. It turned out, to my relief, that the letter to me was benign and loving, with a kind word for everyone and assurances of the pride he had in his children. This did a lot to offset the demented ramblings of the previous year, when he had developed some strange ideas about the `gene pool' and had me planning to siphon off his money for my own family. There is a position called the turning posture and chakra asana (wheel pose). These sexual positions are paintings found on the exterior of many temples in India. This particular one that may have inspired wheel pose (or upward facing bow pose), is called `the wheel posture' and is from a 19th century painting in Nepal5.

I have heard it be said that the Kama Sutra inspired various yoga poses but it could also easily be the other way around. Are the modern-day yoga poses, the same poses from all those thousands of years ago? Like I said previously, chances are slim. But this does not mean they are all modern inventions. Maybe the poses have just evolved like so much of the Indian culture has. Perhaps being an adaptive culture is what defines yoga tradition. Change is reflective of the modern period of life and sometimes, your need to adapt is what ignites your imagination and creativity. As the body floats, many people also notice it feels warm--as if you're taking a warm bath or you're floating in the ocean on a spring day. Or perhaps it's as if you're falling into a cloud, and that cloud is surrounding you like a blanket. As you practice this more, you may even find that you lose a sense of time and space. You may even find that--if you'd like--you can create a sense of leaving the physical body for this healing time you've given yourself. If that feels comfortable for you, you may wish to see your consciousness actually leaving the physical body as a momentary kind of out-of-body experience. If you'd like, for the purposes of this visualization, you can see your consciousness moving upward toward the sky and leaving the physical body as it floats up like a cloud. Your consciousness will return--ever so easily--to your physical body by the end of this practice or at any point during it. Counting now: Body floating . Consciousness moving upward and expanding so that it's now larger than the body. Give your friend a break--forgive the lapse. Your teenager keeps screaming at you and treats you disrespectfully. Set consistent, appropriate limits on the behavior;

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