(likes / dislikes and the karmic rules)
In Pranayama we are dependent on the body for the breath to move freely. If the body is out of line, the breath can’t reach everywhere, it can't go to that area which is blocked. The next important thing is related to us trying to control, influence the breath. When we try, automatically the muscles tighten. Whenever we make actions arising from the local awareness, we get into trouble and there once more come blockages. It is proving that we rely on the body for the breath to be harmonious.
When is the body in total inaction? When we are lying down, when we are still and we don’t have to do anything. Also in some Yoga postures like Halasana and Shoulder Stand we are dependent on the body for the smooth breath. Even if there is no action in the body, it is still dependent. The one pose which is completely balanced, in which we can practice our breathing is Shavasana. It is for that reason that we are going to learn Shavasana in depth, in all its aspects, so that we are able to perform our watchfulness of breathing. And in that process we also learn when we hold tightness anywhere in the body without even knowing.
In my mind I have certain pathways that I have always followed. It is almost as if each one of us has some plugs that we put in different subjects, towards which we are drawn. The reason for that is, that there is a content that comes before. All our likes and dislikes are already there and then during this life we plug it in, pull it out, and plug it in somewhere else... This actually creates pathways in our body. Whenever there is an attachment towards something, that attachment is in wanting or in not wanting. Whenever there is that magnetic pull and the connection, it starts to influence the body.
There is a story about a very good, righteous king, who did not make anything wrong looking from the karmic perspective. His record was unique, he was so pure. One lives in harmony and peace, when one has got a good karma. Karma is that content of the past which we are born with, which influences our present actions, all our likes and dislikes. This king – Janak – he had one day a dream, in which he was sitting on a donkey (although he has the best horses in his stable), back to front and all the people were making fun of him. So he called all his wise men and asked them to tell him the meaning of this dream was. He didn’t get an answer straight away, no one seemed to be able to provide a good explanation. Finally one really amazing sage turned up. The king asked him the same question and the sage explained what the dream was about. “You ridiculed someone in your last life and so you got this situation reflected now in your dream. It is not in your present state, not in your waking state, which is impeccable, but in your dream, which still makes you suffer.”
So it is not only in our waking state that we suffer. It is also in our dreams that we put these plugs in and take them out. All this content has its influence on the body. In Hatha Yoga practice we can realize this. By relaxing the parts of the body where there is an imprint left, we are eventually able to erase it. It works in such a manner when we do relaxation and also Pranayama. Once that pathway is broken, then it depends on us if we recreate it in our waking state or if we drop it. The pull however becomes less, because the pathway is broken, so that is the point to exercise, to practice. It works exactly in the same way for the people who do the Vipassana practice. All those pathways, which are within us, bring up various sensations when we start to scan the body. When those sensations come up in the normal state we respond to them. When we are meditating we don’t respond to them and thus weaken their power. Still those pathways create tensions within us. Think about it, what is stress? It manifests in the physical body, but where does it arise from? Stress is created by my “wanting” or “not-wanting” something desperately.
Both Hindus and Buddhists – maybe expressing it with a different terminology – believe that the consciousness is pure, but because of its karmic content one is not able to recognize that purity. Instead the consciousness gets trapped in all this karmic conditioning, so the root cause of suffering is the ignorance about our true identity.
Don’t you associate yourself with all your things, your family, friends, things you have done, the things you are going to do? Is it you or is it someone else? That is what is called ignorance. Whenever you think “I have heard it before” you become disconnected. Hear it all over again and truly reflect on it.
Yoga master teacher Sharat Arora
Article derived from the Intensive Yoga Course
at the Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre in Arambol North Goa, 2010