Sound of creation. Power of transformation. Reference to the divine. Honour yourself, and your radiant teacher. You’re bountifully blessed.
This was a Mantra we chanted along with Christopher Wallis aka Hareesh. Here is a little background information on this amazing person.
Chris been exposed to Indian spirituality from the age of six and was initiated into the practice of meditation and yoga at the age of 16. Six years later, while traveling through Europe and India, he felt called to study, teach, and practice Indian philosophy and meditation full-time. He now has 18 years of practice, 10 years of academic study, and 11 years of teaching experience. His degrees include a B.A. in Religion from the University of Rochester, an M.A. in Sanskrit from U.C. Berkeley, and an M.Phil. in Classical Indian Religions from the University of Oxford. He is currently earning a third masters from U.C. Santa Barbara, as well as doing doctoral research at Berkeley on the traditions of Tantric Shaivism. He received traditional education at yoga ashrams in upstate New York and India - in kirtan, mantra-science, asana, karma-yoga, and more. He currently teaches meditation, yoga philosophy, Sanskrit, chanting, and offers spiritual life-coaching. His goal in teaching is to balance accuracy with accessibility, profundity with clarity, and intellectual integrity with heart-expanding inspiration. His students have commented that his combination of rigorous and thorough knowledge with profound love for the tradition is rare and delightful.
I was lucky enough to spend 3 days with Hareesh, and I learned SO much. Our Kula Teacher Training group attended a public lecture Friday night. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who was blown away. We also got to spend Saturday and Sunday morning with Hareesh in our private Burlington studio...JUST the students!
We learned all about Tantric Yoga philosophy, from beginning around and including 600BCE- to now. We discussed what Tantric Yoga is...all of us had a different understanding of what it was.
Tantric Yoga is focused more on all the sciences of yoga and “weaves” it together (Tantra (Sanskrit: तन्त्र; "weave" denoting continuity). Alchemy, chemistry, anatomy, mediation, anatomy and physiology.... In other words, Tantra yoga studies the tree of life instead of limiting itself to any single branch of the tree.
If I wrote everything I learned, thought about and now knew...this blog would be never ending. I’m going to touch on some of my favourite quotes, and memories of this weekend.
“The witness then abides in its true nature”
Everyone we encounter in life is a reflection of you. People come in our lives for a reason. Maybe it’s to challenge you? Consider it an opportunity for self awareness. Have you been to egotistical lately? Offensive? Sometimes the things that annoy us the most in others, is what we hate most about ourselves. Maybe they’ve come into your life to offer some sort of inner healing. Have you ever met someone, and they “get you” right away, after a simple chitchat? Think about everyone who comes in and out of your life, it’s a gift, a chance for recognition and expansion for your soul.
Bhāvanā: Engaging in the power of self awareness. “Calling into Existence”
Meditation is something that came up a lot during our weekend retreat. Learning to hold the situation in your awareness, breath into it, into the cradle of conscientiousness ...doors will open where there were merely walls. I REALLY look forward to this. This was something VERY hard for me to concentrate on as I was very sick. Closing my eyes kinda made me dizzy and nauseous. Not to mention all the sniffling, sneezing and coughing I was doing. I look forward to doing more of this once I’m fully recovered and able to be fully present and aware in the moment. I also look forward to healing a lot of my samskara’s that I know are still present within me.
Samskara’s: fundamental impressions left on the heart of an individual.
As simple as I can make it, a Samskara is a “scar”. Left behind from every experience you’ve had past and present lives. When repeated, these samskara’s can get deeper and deeper. Take a foot print in the sand for example. Water flows over sand so naturally, easy. Then a foot print is made in the sand. The water (life) still flows over the foot print, but now just a little differently. These are like scars on the heart. Experiences you’ve had in life effect the outcome of every situation after a samskara has been made. These are different for everyone. The good news is that it can be healed. Simply by adding yoga, a samskara can be released naturally. Not only with yoga, but being conscious of these “scars” When someone pushes your buttons, and you feel yourself getting all worked up, not only have they found a samskara, you’re actually deepening that scar. If you don’t react, you weaken it, and eventually it will fade.
“The cause of all our suffering, is that we don’t know who we are”
The Four Noble Truths:
1. Life means suffering.
2. The origin of suffering is attachment.
3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.
4. The path to the cessation of suffering.
To live means to suffer, because the human nature is not perfect and neither is the world we live in. During our lifetime, we inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death; and we have to endure psychological suffering like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression. Although there are different degrees of suffering and there are also positive experiences in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort and happiness, life in its complete is imperfect and incomplete. This means we are never able to keep permanently what we long for, and just be content with the moments that pass by. We are given the ability to see things as they are, and except them. We are given the ability to be free from the thoughts that harness our soul. Learn to love, cherish and embody those moment, those feelings, use it to your advantage, life it too short!
What is Yoga? What does Yoga mean? The Sanskrit word yoga has many meanings, and is derived from the Sanskrit root "yuj," meaning "to control," "to yoke" or "to unite." There became many jokes and quotes around our practice that evening.
“WOW Devon...you totally YOKED that trikonasana!!”
I made a lot of progress this weekend, mentally, physically and very much spiritually. I see a lot of what I’ve learned I already knew...but didn’t know the proper name, action, and how to follow through with it. I’m happier; a little less stressed, and I definitely know how to deal with the things that challenge me on a deeper more rewarding level.
Thank you to Kula, Hareesh, Adam, Colin, Grant and my amazing new friends!
“Divine is more than meets the eye, but everything the eye meets”