The ways in which the Self, or Seer, can be deceived are five : Pramana, or through received, accepted, unquestioning knowledge of the world, as well as notions of ‘proof’ derived through dualist linear reasoning. This belief system privileges certain forms of knowledge over others, and holds the privileged form to have greater ‘truth’ value than any other. Shades of this are also to be found in the modern Hindi wordpramana, that means ‘proof’ or ‘deductive reasoning’.
While pramana is an internal, self-reliant system that produces error, viparyaya is misjudgment and faulty reasoning produced through bad source data, so to speak, when the very sources from which analytic or other reasoning starts are unreliable.
Vikalpa translates as ‘alternatives’ and, in one sense, refers to the incessant dialogue of the mind : that constantly creates alternatives to every action. Within this category are also notions of Freud, Lacan and Jung, especially the latter’s animus and anima, the two selves that every being has. Indecisive and procrastinating, the Self wavers between which of its two voices to privilege.
Nidra is sleep, but also carries with it notions of dullness, inertia, the inability to take action, to let the world go by without reacting. Nidra is caused not only by the action of sleeping, but also by eating too much, making unhealthy choices, abusing one’s body and mind. Nidra means torpor and acceptance. The Self in such a state is dulled into accepting its ‘lot’ in life, and convinces itself that such is its destiny.
Finally cultural mores and ways of doing things, transmitted through generations or culture, constitute smrtayah, or the spoken/heard word. This concept corresponds to myths of culture, family, nation and community that prescribe ways of doing things without investigating the ways in which such practices are ingrained, and are particular to, the community within which they exist. Smrtayah thus means memory and remembrance, and unquestioning acceptance, another way in which Reality cloaks itself to the Seer.
20 Minute Morning Yoga
The following brief yoga course is designed to be done in the morning, at or just before dawn, and will greatly enhance one’s self-belief, generate a positive outlook, and transmit these feelings to others.
A. Preparation : By preference, be clean. Brush your teeth, wash your face, whatever makes you feel comfortable and refreshed. Wear loose, comfortable, clean clothing. Select a 10’x10’ area by preference, if not enough space is available, use a smaller area, though at least 6’x6’.
B. Do the following exercises on a carpeted floor, a unrolled 6’x6’ carpet, or a yoga mat.
Exercises and Asanas:
1. Tadasana (Standing Pose) (2 Minutes)
Stand erect in the center of the mat/carpet. Picture the curve of your spine, and make a conscious effort to stand straighter, in the best posture manageable. Bring your feet together until they touch along their insides, and place your arms at your sides. Breath in gently, hold the breath for 5 seconds, breath out, stay exhaled for 5 more seconds. Repeat this in and out breathing for a minute, all the while being conscious of the weight of the body transferring to the ground through the feet, and the spine stretching upwards. Through the balance of these two opposing forces (upward and downward), try and feel the focus, center, balance of your body, just above the hips and below the navel. Visualize your breathing emerging from this center, and coming back in to it.
2. Padangusthasana (Touching the Feet) (5 minutes)
This pose, a mild inversion, follows from the previous in a continuous motion, and may be done in two stages if required. The technique is as follows: staying intadasana, start bending the torso from the junction of the spine and hip, visualizing this joint as you do so. Picture the exact vertebral joint where the spine is bending from, and also attempt to keep the rest of the spine straight! When the upper torso is at right angles to the legs, pause for a minute, breathing in and out as in the previous asana. Now let your arms hang loose, dangling to the ground, for a minute, and feel your upper body loosening as well, from the shoulders to the tip of the hands. Continue breathing in and out, finding once more the center of focus for your body. Second stage: use your hands to grasp your toes, and pull your upper body down as far as it will go, once more bending from your hip, and keeping the spine straight as far as possible. At its extreme, the posture will mean that your head is touching or close to your knees, your arms are around the toes, and your breath, when visualized properly, finds its way to the junction between the spine and the hips. Hold this pose for a full minute, and then r e l e a s e slowly, exhaling your way back to erecttadasana. Stay in tadasana for another minute, finding equilibrium through breathing once again.
3. Ustrasana (5 minutes) (Kneeling and Stretching Back)
From tadasana, lower your body to the ground till your knees touch the ground, but keep the back erect. Settle into this pose till the body weight feels comfortably distributed. The legs, stretching out behind the body, should be about a shoulder width apart at the feet. Breath in and out for a minute. Place your hands akimbo, supporting the area just behind the hips with the hands. Gently – and slowly – start bending backwards, once again using the base of the spine and the hips as the pivot point. Bending backward can be done in stages, to the point where it remains comfortable. Breath in and out, visualizing your breath in a C-shaped curve approximating to the curve of the spine, terminating in the hips and base of spine. If possible, lower your hands from your hips, and touch the heels of the feet with the palm of the hands, arcing the back upwards till the upper torso is parallel with the ceiling. Remain in this pose for up to 3 minutes, breathing slowly all the while. Feel the breath filling the entire upper torso, counting till 5 before exhaling, and waiting again to inhale. Come up off the pose slowly, until the body is once more erect, and do an inversion of this pose: Bend forward gently till the spine is once more parallel to the ground. Hold this pose for half a minute, and come up erect again.
4. Modified Parighasana (5 minutes) (Side Stretches from Kneeling position)
Stay in a kneeling, erect posture for a minute. Then slowly, bending from the base of the torso/top of hips, stretch down to one side, using the hand as support. This can be done in stages till the maximum effort is reached. At the first stage, stop the stretch when the body is 45 degrees off the vertical. Breath in and out, feeling the breath go in diagonally to the base of the spine, and then breath out again. Hold this position for half a minute. Then stretch still further, using exhales to help extend the stretch, till the maximum bend is reached. In this position, the upper torso will be parallel – sideways – to the ground, the hand used for support. Stay in this position for half a minute. Straighten the stretch, then repeat on the other side of the body.
5. Simhasana (3 minutes) (Seated pose)
From the previous ending of parighasana, bend the legs still further, and lower the body into a seated position. The full weight of the torso is now on the lower legs. Feel the contact of the weight of the body with the ground, visualizing the connect between the body and the earth through the ground. Let your mind wander, hearing the sounds of dawn and trying to identify them, and isolate them, one by one. From visualizing the external world, visualize your inner body, focusing on the heartbeat and the breathing. Picture your organs and your body as being vitally alive, suffused with vital forces! Breath in and out, long slow breaths that stay in the body, bringing it more vitality every time you inhale, and emptying the body of the previous day’s residue with every exhale. Slowly increase the length of breathing, without effort or strain. Close your eyes and feel the center of the body, in equilibrium with itself, the world and all of life. Open your eyes and slowly get up, and make one resolution – to enjoy the day!