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Advanced Yoga Practices
Note: For the Original Internet Lessons with additions, see the AYP Easy Lessons Books. For the Expanded and Interactive Internet Lessons, AYP Online Books, Audiobooks and more, see AYP Plus.
Lesson 259 - Fear and Enlightenment (Audio)
AYP Plus Additions:
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"
A lot of practices suggest constant remembrance, being in the now, placing some consciousness on a part of the body, belly breathing etc., 24 hours. Is there any similar practice in the AYP lessons that we can try to do all the time.
A: Cultivating inner silence over time will reduce our tendency to be ruled by fear. So you are on the right track with deep meditation. But the solution does not come overnight, as you are seeing. It takes some persistence over time. Gradually adding additional practices from the lessons (spinal breathing pranayama is next) will help deepen the flow of pure bliss consciousness in our nervous system, and progressively reduce the bite of fear. The idea is not to eliminate fear. Rather, we are to systematically move our center of awareness beyond it.
What is fear anyway? It is a product of the deep-rooted perception that we will lose something -- possessions, our health, our life. Can we ever get rid of fear? No, I don't think so. It is a natural biological function that actually serves a purpose -- it causes us to act in ways that are in the interest of our preservation. Fear is one of nature's ways of preserving the species.
If we cannot get rid of fear, what is the best way to relate to it? The way is to cultivate our ability to live beyond it in pure bliss consciousness. Then we can use fear in a rational way. When the truck is coming straight at us, we step out of the way. Like that. Will we sit around wringing our hands because the bills are due and there is not enough money? Not if we are steady in our inner silence. We will still feel fear, but we will act more rationally to find solutions to our challenges. So fear will be a voice that says, "Better do something about that." For example, I have some fear about the AYP lessons disappearing from the web in a mishap. So what do I do? I see about ways to back them up. That is a rational use of fear, yes?
Irrational fear is the product of a nervous system out of balance. We can be born with it, or be cultivating it with our conduct in this life. Often it is both -- one leads to the other in a cycle of causes and effects -- behaviors carried over from life to life. Yoga can break the cycle. In fact, fear, like every emotion, can be converted into pure bhakti. Fear can become a great friend on the spiritual path. We can modify our response so the more fear we have, the more we will want to act to move forward toward enlightenment. This is the highest use of fear. See lesson #67 for more on the method of bhakti.
It has been said that a hero is a coward who has learned to use his fear to inspire great acts. So, like everyone, you have that huge emotional energy that can be converted into great things -- even into enlightenment. You are doing that now with your practices, yes? Your fear is driving you to a very high path.
As for doing practices all day, remembrance, etc., in AYP we go for a balance between sitting practices and normal daily activity. This provides for a deep merging with pure bliss consciousness and the rise of ecstatic conductivity in our sittings, and then going out into our daily activity in a spirit of doing good in the world, no matter what our job or station in life may be. With inner silence cultivated in the morning, we don't have to be thinking about it all day to integrate it into our nervous system. We just go and be active. That is good enough.
Remembrance is something that will come up naturally as our perception gradually changes over time. In the AYP approach, remembrance is an effect more than a cause. It is an experience that rises naturally in our life of doing our daily sitting practices, and then going out and being in the world without pretense one way or the other. We just go into silence, let it go, and go out and act according to our heart's desires. That's all. The rest is automatic. The nervous system will be changed dramatically over time by that cycle of going in and coming out. If we want to do more, the best thing to do is work on building up our twice-daily sitting practices, applying the principles of self-pacing as we do. Then our nervous system will be charged with more and more inner silence and ecstatic bliss, and we will be integrating those qualities in our normal daily activities. Our activity will become worship of the divine within and all around us. It is not a belabored practice, this worship. It is a joyful, natural outcome of deeply cultivating the divine in our sitting practices every day.
Obviously, we make many decisions every day. Over time, our decisions become colored by inner steadiness, ecstatic bliss and rising divine love. Even our fears become colored by the divine, and we act accordingly. That is how things change. So, be easy in your practices, and be easy in daily life. Be tolerant of your negative emotions. Do not judge yourself too harshly. Just gently turn your emotional energy toward cultivating your yoga practices. Everything is going to be all right. Just stay the course with twice daily practices, and the rest will come along naturally.
I wish you all success on your continuing spiritual journey. Enjoy!
The guru is in you.
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Note: For detailed instructions on deep meditation, see the AYP Deep Meditation book. For detailed instructions on building a balanced daily practice routine with self-pacing, see the Eight Limbs of Yoga Book. Also see AYP Plus.
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