The Poetry of Retreat

Wake up well before dawn.

Set an alarm, just in case. I don’t want to miss a moment of the five a.m. sadhana.

Under the veil of darkness, stroll along the starlit, lapping lake to the candlelit temple where White Tara beams down upon us all every day and night.

Location: Sumaya, which means “a long awaited dream come true”; a.k.a. paradise found.

Akasha shares his personal practice with us, in such a down-to-earth, accessible and friendly way. Casually imparts the wisdom of years and decades of practice. So humbly, with the authenticity of actions and the nebulous precision of words. The time flies by.

Breathing, chanting, moving, holding, listening. Paying attention.

Sun rises, pastels paint the sky. We invite the morning light. The lake’s daily awakening. All the sounds, the water, the boat motors, voices, birdsong.

And now, a series of seven-minute chants. I read from the sheet and marvel at all the people in the room who has these long strings of Sanskrit syllables memorized.

Mid-morning Ashtanga practice. Powerful. Right effort. Knowing boundaries, challenging limits. Mountain men and women gaining strength, vitality. Soaking up inspiration from our teacher and his teacher’s teachers.

Just one week, and yet we go so deep, transforming energy on all levels. Strangers swiftly become sangha, friendships are forged over meals and spirit animal tarot cards.

Healing circle, full moon, New Year’s Eve evening; glowing hearts, positive energy, splendid synergy. Giving and receiving.

Inner transformation, outward evolution. Deep bow of gratitude, dream come true. The closing of one chapter leads to the opening of the next.

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Thank you. I love you. Please forgive me. I’m sorry. Namaste.

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What Color is Your Aura?

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Victoria Pendragon – Artspan

Even if we cannot see it, our aura is always with us, surrounding us. It consists of the sum of its parts. Here are some ways in which we can connect with each of our seven main chakra energy centers:

The Root Chakra

To connect with our root chakra, we can stand up directly on the earth, and feel the ground through the soles of our feet. We can breathe deeply and feel thankful to nature, the earth, sea, and sky. We are nature—and nature is us. Connect with breath. Breath is life. Breath is always there for us, as long as we live. Breathe deeply. Inhale gratitude. Inhale whatever it is you feel. There is no wrong answer. Just keep breathing. You are safe. You belong. This is your home.

The Sacral Chakra

Water and movement are the keys for the sacral chakra. Walking, practicing yoga or tai chi, hiking, or moving near a river, lake, or ocean is ideal. Jump right in and take a swim! If natural bodies of water are not nearby, we can connect with the sacred sacral chakra in a pool, bathtub, or shower. We need to remember to be more like water and just go with the flow, accepting our desires and emotions, not repressing them.

Move. Shake it up. Travel. Stretch. Hike. Walk instead of driving everywhere. Bicycle. Practice yoga asanas. Keep your body dynamic. Listen to your inner voice. Dance when it is time to dance. And then be still.

The Solar Plexus

Solar plexus energy is related to our will, power, and purpose. This is the center of action, effort, and intensity. Practice core strengthening exercises, a new skill, hone your self-discipline. Fire is the element here. Participate in a fire ceremony or create your own. Light candles. Practice challenging yoga, pushing yourself to your limit. Do standing meditations.

The Heart Chakra

The heart chakra is where it’s at. This is where we, as a global society, need to be. We’ve been stuck at the third chakra (solar plexus) for a long time now, obsessed with work, ambition, and power. A lot of people are awakening their hearts and this is helping evolve the collective consciousness of humanity.

Green is the color of the heart. Immerse yourself in green, whether it be wearing green clothing, or being in a green room or forest. I personally adore practicing metta (loving kindness or loving friendliness), both formally and informally. That is, sending good wishes to myself, my loved ones, and ultimately all beings.

The element of the heart is air, so more breath work is prescribed for opening and balancing heart energy. Keep reading!

Kundalini: the yoga of awareness

by guest blogger Allison Brooks

Yoga has a long history of improving physical and spiritual well-being, and also has a wide range of ways to achieve a desired effect. Artifacts depicting yoga postures date back to 3000 BCE, but the origins of Kundalini yoga only date to about 1400 BCE. Most of the evidence for this form were in the Yajurveda texts and were only practiced in India. It was not until Yogi Bhajan brought the practice to the West and the United States in 1969 that Kundalini yoga gained popularity.

Kundalini yoga is physical, mental and spiritual discipline that is focused on expanding sensory awareness and to raise social consciousness. Many describe it as a merger between yoga and meditation to express the potential of a human to uphold values, truths, and focus within to help others. It aims to release suppressed energy to improve health and well-being. This form of yoga gets its name from the untapped energy in the body called kundalini. This energy
is located at the base of the spine and can be released by a series of movements and breathing exercises which awaken the seven chakras, or energy centers, allowing for the flow to be restored throughout the whole body. Restoring the original flow of energy is the ultimate way to awaken the body and promote healing processes.

Some of these movements may be rapid and repetitive while others consist of maintaining a pose, with a certain breathing pattern for some time. Each breath, pause, and movement is strategically planned to correctly identify the charkas and release the energy. The release of this energy and the intense focus of each movement allows for personal and spiritual awareness.

If one is into the physical rigor of some yoga forms, Kundalini is not the one. Though some of the movements and breathing controls are physically intense, Kundalini is more of a spiritual yoga. The energy release and inner focusing are a great way to release stress and reconnect with the conscious. Many people practice this form of yoga after a long week of work or during difficult situations. It has become popular with people suffering from a chronic illness, unfavorable cancer prognosis, or depression.

Kundalini Rising Chakra Visualization

To practice this transformative visualization meditation, sit cross legged or lie down on your back and deepen your breath. Lengthen your spine and let go of all tension and worries.

Close your eyes and visualize a warm glowing light at the base of your spine. As you continue breathing with awareness, filling your lungs completely and feeling your belly rise on the inhale, visualize the light moving upward along your spine. Exhale fully after each inhalation.

Imagine that this light represents your true self, your divine nature. See the light move up through each vertebrae, from the red root to the orange pelvic bowl to the yellow solar plexus to the green heart, the blue throat and all the way up to the violet crown of the head via the indigo blue third eye.

Continue visualizing the light traveling up and down your spine as long as desired. Finally, release all visual images and sit quietly for a few moments. Relax and feel the compassion that resides deep within your heart.