Pre Yatra Prep

Namaste yatrites, as well as non yatrites

Just want to give a brief of what was talked in yesterday’s brief to the yatra students. Majority could not turn up. And for those not coming this time, you can just read on, as almost all of you have come with me for one retreat or the other, and hopefully, you can make it next time.
Now let me sink into memory waves, and try to type what i think i spoke yesterday night.

The importance of retreat
All of us are fellow travellers in the stream of yoga, which started flowing thousands of years ago.

Though yoga is a singular tradition, in recent times, by way of focus, seems to be split into two traditions.

One is yoga as a practice tradition. A practice which is meant to make us flexible, strong, balanced and free of physical afflictions, and which is embraced by the general masses

The other is, Yoga is also a wisdom tradition. A tradition which is meant to infuse us with wisdom, with the potential to free us from mental afflictions. It is meant to awaken us into the essense of who we are. A tradition which is equipped with scriptures encasing the wonderful insights of so many yogis of the yore. However this is not generally followed due to difficulty in understanding, and due to the demands on the intellect it places.

The combination of these two is what which has the power to give us a state shift.

From a state of manas or mind, with all its thoughts, doubts and worries, into a state of pure buddhi (pure intelligence), an awakened state. Similar to state shifts like shifting from a dreaming state into a wakeful state.

However this state shift requires certain prerequisites.

It requres certain spaciousness in your consciousness, where there is space for wisdom and insight to occur.

This is very difficult to occur in our current daily lives, when we are running around, worried and anxious, caught up in various preoccupations.

And this is where retreats are so important. It takes us away from our current place of residence and work, into a beautiful, silent place which is conducive for quietness and spaciousness. And there, we can also retreat from all our identity hangups, and abide in something deeper.

This abiding or absorption, in an ultimate sense is termed samadhi.

And for samadhi to occur, we have to hone five capacities of our consciousness, which patanjali terms as shraddha, virya, smrti, samadhi and prajna along with four qualities of maitri, karuna, mudita and upekshanam. These five capacities and four qualities together are what makes up yoga. Remember, yoga is samadhi, as sage Vyasa said.

Please read pgs 79,80,81of ‘Making Patanjali palatable’ to get bit more of these five capacities. Basically shraddha is a state of pleasantness which permeates the conciousness, when one thinks of the teachings and the teacher; a pleasantness which arise due to the clarity of knowledge of what the teachings is about, and total trust in the intention of one who is imparting the teachings. That Shraddha is already there among all of you.

Second is virya, which is intensity in practice and learning, which eventually brings about a special capability, termed samarthya.

This dedication to all aspects of practice such as asanas, pranayama, meditation, study etc is difficult in our routine life; where just coming to class through traffic itself is difficult.

In a retreat though, we can completely dedicate to around 10 hrs of practice and study.

smriti is remembrance, or mindfulness of various principles of yoga, on a constant basis.

Samadhi in this context is sama-adhi, meaning a resolving of all inner conflicts. During our daily lives, we are simply caught up in the various reactions of the mind when facing unpleasant situations. we have no time to go quiet and non judgmentally look at what is happening. but in a retreat set up, you can do that, and then, you find a space for many of the unpleasant things. You find that you are ok with it. you can acknowledge, accommodate, soften and let go.

And prajna is wisdom, which initially is about listening (shravanam), contemplation and discussion (mananam) and nidhidhyasanam (meditation).

Now, these five capacities have to be embellished with the four adornments, namely, maitri, mudita, karuna and upekshanam.

Now, at Manasa, we always talk about awareness and attention as the most important qualities to nurture. However, being aware and attentive alone doesnt give rise to a state shift.

Many people pay real attention, such as ,surgeons, players, and oh, kids when they play PS 2, etc.

But by that attention, they dont get free of the various problems created by the mind.

Because their awareness might be with a mind, which is aware of things, but with a sense of greed, instead of generosity.

You can ask yourself, are you normally aware of things with a mind which is dark with aversion or bright with goodwill? A mind clouded with delusion or clear with knowledge?

Know that all these are undertakings of purity we take in our training. not that such thoughts should not come up at all.

For eg, the thought of child abusers, vulturous womanizers etc has the instant effect of steely claws slithering out of the veins of my wrists (yes, i saw Wolverine). But then smrti (remembrance) that such thoughts doesnt do any help, guides me to practice upekshanam (equanimity and acceptance), which eases and calms.

Aversion, anger, lust, greed etc are the natural obscurations which block the splendour of pure buddhi or intelligence. Normally, in our rushed lives, we dont even see how coloured our eyes have become with such emotions.

We need to deepen our ability of perception, so that we can see and acknowledge the presence of these defilements in our consciounsess. And in a retreat setting you have the conducive environmental and community support for engaging in serious insightful reflection. Constant abiding in an environment of maitri also helps.

Which again naturally occurs in a retreat set up, the surge of maitri. Me and sandhya often say we are all privileged to see all of your best. One person is at his or her best when the innate qualities of goodwill, friendship etc surface. And in a yoga class that happens. And even more in a retreat.

We really hope all of us will have a great and rewarding experience at the retreat.

Oh tranquil waters of Lake Kenyir and mighty trees of the oldest rainforest.. may your energy guide us..