WHAT IS MAYA?

What is maya?

Below is a story to illustrate just that:

Once Narada the celestial sage and ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu asked him,

“Lord, what is maya?”

Lord Vishnu said, “I’ll explain to you what maya is, but first fetch me some water as I am really thirsty.”

At a distance there was a village and Narada left at once. As he collected water from the river, he saw a beautiful woman. Narada felt attracted to her and asked the bashful girl to marry him.

After receiving her father’s blessing the two got married. Over time they had children and Narada inherited his father-in-laws property, land, cattle etc. Narada seemed very happy in his family life and they happily continued to live their life.

One day there was a terrible rainstorm. It wouldn’t stop pouring and the river overflowed its banks flooding the village. Homes and people were swept away. In an effort to escape, Narada held on to his wife with one hand and his older son with another. He placed his younger child over his shoulders. But the current proved to be too strong and swept away one of his children. In an attempt to save one child, he lost his grasp over his wife and second child. As they all got carried away by the flood, out of desperation he wailed and lamented, “Lord help me!”

All of a sudden he found himself scooped up and a gentle voice behind him say,

” Child, Where is my water? You’ve been gone for half an hour.”

Narada was confused. Where was his village? His wife? His children? Half an hour? It had been 12 years.

“You have always had theoretical knowledge of maya, but never really experienced it” said Lord Vishnu. Despite that knowledge you got pulled into this material world. Such is the power of maya.  The moment you experienced it you got caught up in it. It became your reality.”

Living in this world of maya is akin to being in a dream. Sometimes we wake up from a scary dream that felt very real but the moment we awake from it, we are extremely relieved as we realize it was only a dream.

Maya or illusion is similar to that. The world we live in is maya but feels very real to us because of the play of the gunas (qualities) of satva, rajas and tamas. When the mind gets dragged by the sense organs into the material world, there is an imbalance created in the three gunas. As the mind runs outwards, it wanders farther and farther away from its divine nature and  gets caught up in the play of life.

One wakes up from this maya when they turn their mind inwards through control of the mind (chittasamyam) and practice of yoga. As the mind becomes free from agitation, the three gunas enter into a state of perfect balance and the being comes to realize their divinity.  Everything at once becomes clear. Reality reveals itself and as it does, the world of maya that we believe to be our reality blurs away into the background and one sees it for what it truly is-unreal; that we are all nothing but hamsters in a wheel, believing that we are actually getting somewhere but really never getting anywhere.

If the  mind is agitated because of the constant assault by emotions, this world of maya will continue to feel real. One continues to experience momentary pleasure, interrupted by long phases of sorrow and suffering.

If the mind is free from agitation, the being will experience divine bliss and be free from worldly sorrows and suffering even while living in it.

Mind is the root cause of suffering for one who is controlled by it. But mind is also the liberator for one who can control it.

Sure-fire Antidote For Vertigo

Two weeks ago I got exposed to some cold weather and also made the mistake of consuming cold food which just doesn’t suit me. (If I bite into a cold sandwich I get congested within minutes.)

My head felt completely jammed and heavy and I ended up with vertigo. Usually an episode leaves me bedridden  for 24 hours or so but this recent episode was different. It lasted about 2 weeks and I was mobile but had to be careful not to make any sudden movements, look up or down or lie down on either side.  So while it left me feeling  spaced out and disoriented ,  it didn’t interfere with my travel plans and other social obligations and familial responsibilities during the Christmas season. I don’t have vertigo often, maybe once every 5 years and I know my triggers ( strong smells like those in cleaning solutions  bleach, alcohol etc and exposure to cold winds and consumption of too much cold food).

When I finally got time to take care of myself I tried different natural remedies like performing mudra for vertigo and drinking and eating herbs, food and drinks (cloves, ginger, nutmeg etc) that are inherently as well as temperature warm/hot. My symptoms did improve but very slowly and not completely, so I decided to go with the sesame oil treatment which I should have done sooner, but kept putting off. With my little finger I  coated the inside of my ears with sesame oil as far as it could reach into both my ears. I also coated my nostrils making sure to breathe in deeply few times and gave myself a facial lymphatic drainage massage with it too. This helps clear the sinus congestion really fast.  (My husband once had a really bad cold which refused to leave. I convinced him to allow me to give him the sesame oil lymphatic drainage massage followed by hot towel compresses and after just one treatment he was completely fine.) Following just two applications and massages over a 24 hour period, there was 100% improvement in my vertigo. I also ate 10 almonds in the morning and 10 at night. Almonds help counter excess kapha and vata which cause vertigo.

Using organic cold pressed sesame oil is recommended, but I used what I had in my pantry which was the dark sesame oil used in Chinese recipes 🙂

paranthasesame

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Sesame oil is extremely hot in nature and is hailed for its many benefits in Ayurveda. I resumed including them in my daily diet at least for the rest of winter. Toasting  white sesame seeds until they release oil and sprinkling a teaspoon them on toast, bagels vegetable etc or adding them when baking or making rotis, paranthas etc are a great way to include them in your diet.  You can learn more about the benefits of sesame seed here.

Don’t Do That. Do This.

One of the many popular methods recommended to help someone heal is to say a prayer for a person you might not particularly like. Maybe this person has hurt you or treated you poorly in the past and maybe still does and now you are beset with this challenge of doing something that doesn’t feel natural all in the hope to heal your sick soul. Now if you can say a prayer for this particular someone without feeling fraudulent or dispassionate or without any conflict, then it is a sign that you are doing something to aid your internal healing process. On the contrary, if you notice a tightness in your chest, it is a sign of internal resistance; a sign that you might be creating imbalance and blockage in your heart chakra. This  disharmony creates a disruption in the pranic/life force in the body. Whenever there is a disturbance in the smooth flow of prana, the result is illness.

heart leaf

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In such a case it would be advisable to say a heartfelt prayer for someone who has been kind to you. Maybe they lent you a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on. They might not necessarily be close family or friends. Sometimes the unlikeliest of people turn out to be the lifeline you just needed at that point in your life. When I went through some trying times in 2014 most (non-family) people didn’t know. The few I confided in made themselves scarce and the only two people who stand out and shine in my mind and bring a smile to my face and softness to my heart are the last two people I expected to be in a position to help or even care since they weren’t really part of my life in that sense. Without getting into too much detail I will say this- despite facing their own problems and having utterly busy lives and professions they bailed me out by being there to the best of their capacity. Today, when their thought crosses my mind, my heart says an automatic prayer for them. It is effortless and unrushed. I take time with my words for them and pray whole -heartedly, praying for their well-being. Best wishes for them just bubble forth and flow uninterrupted, and as I pray I feel my heart melt and warm up and soften. That’s how I know it is genuine. Because I feel healed. I feel happy and in harmony with myself.

Raising your Vibration from Low to High-How to Make the Shift

Bliss and sorrow cannot co-exist. Where there is bliss there is no experience of sorrow. Where there is sorrow, bliss cannot be experienced.Bliss is experienced when you vibrate at the highest frequency. Sorrow, sickness, disease, stress, negativity, pessimism etc. is experienced when you vibrate at a much lower frequency.

If the mind is peaceful and body is relaxed prana will flow freely through the body. When prana flows freely, because there is no resistance within, your vibrational frequency will increase. If you can maintain this uplifted state you will feel positive, happy, forgiving, and grateful. Your face will glow. Body will be free of pain and suffering. You will naturally think fewer and uplifting thoughts and the mind will be peaceful. You will have an overall sense of well-being, peace and positivity without trying to force it.  You will feel drawn to activities, thoughts and people with higher vibration. You will be naturally drawn to healthy fresh foods which is why I don’t want to lecture you on eating healthy or stressing the importance of being around positive people. It will start happening on its own.

Two factors are at the core of increasing one’s vibrational frequency:

  • Think fewer thoughts
  • The few thoughts you have should be positive or neutral

Both can be successfully accomplished through conscious effort and awareness. In order to be positive and to stay positive you have to make a shift.  This shift is not easy because we don’t live in a perfect blissful world where everything is just the way we want it to be. But once you’ve made that positive shift from low to high vibration you won’t be easily dragged down by most everyday lows and stressors. You can make this shift.

The most powerful ways to make that shift and to enjoy lasting results are:

  • Mantra Chanting or Japa: Mantra chanting is very effective if done correctly. If you find it hard to meditate then this might be a great way to get yourself in a meditative state of mind and experience a positive state of mind.

If you don’t feel the emotion of the mantra, chanting it is useless. Each word we understand conjures up an image and a feeling. If I ask you to repeat and focus on these words- fresh sandalwood paste or cool fragrant jasmine flowers you visualize and feel something good. Now chant this all day while doing your chores or while multitasking. You won’t feel anything. You will just mechanically repeat these words.

When I say sapascoffragmine and tell you this is a very powerful and effective mantra so chant it daily. Will you feel anything? There is no image or thought or feeling you can associate with it because you don’t know what it means. (I just made it up by borrowing a few letters from sandalwood paste cool fragrant jasmine  J ).

So when you chant a mantra it is good to know the meaning/significance of each word or at least the gist of it. It is also important to focus on each word and feel it completely which is why the correct way of chanting is to sit down and do it for at least one round of the rosary instead of doing it while driving or doing dishes and laundry, or cooking or whatever mindless chore you are doing. The rosary helps you keep track of how long you have been chanting without distracting you. The more rounds you do the better you will feel. This is why chanting while doing chores is useless, because after repeating a mantra 3-5 times you will get distracted. The whole point of chanting is to improve our focus and concentration; to lessen our thoughts so that our mind is not scattered any more. A scattered mind will make you feel depleted and irritable and negative which can manifest in any form of anger or irritability.

Choosing the mantra: you will either be recommended a mantra (based on your horoscope or a guru depending on what you need at that stage of your life.)

If you pick your own mantra you will tend to be drawn to one based on what you need at that time in your life. Sometimes you will find yourself changing mantras until you find the right one for you. Because you are looking for that which is lacking in you. You are drawn to the vibration of the mantra based on what is missing and very much needed in you at that phase of your life. If you like a certain color it is because you have less of it in you.  That’s when people use color therapy or gemstone therapy, but that’s a topic for another day.

Do at least one round of the rosary. This will come to 108 repetitions. This is just the minimum. But if this is v important to you and you are willing to put in the time and effort for the gains then do at least 3 rounds or 324 repetitions. This will take anywhere between 15 -30 minutes depending on the length of the mantra. The more you do the more you will benefit. Last month I did 10 rounds of a mantra. It took me 2 hours. But after the fifth round I could feel certain sensations and vibrations in my brain. By the end I felt extremely uplifted, strong, positive, confident happy and fearless. I do three rounds daily in the evening and the results are undeniable. I went from feeling a low 2 on the scale to feeling a 10- grounded and positively uplifted; Poised and fearless at the same time.

Withdrawing your senses is a precursor to concentration and concentration is a precursor to meditation. When you chant a mantra (japa) you are withdrawing your senses and working on concentration by focusing on each aspect of the mantra. When you can maintain your concentration it becomes meditation. After several rounds of japa (you will know when) don’t be in a rush to get up. Just sit silently in the moment for a while before you open your eyes and get up.

  • Meditation: 30-45 minutes of regular meditation will help us reduce our thoughts, and uplift and strengthen our mind.  When the ancient seers meditated, it wasn’t to relieve stress.  It was to gain knowledge; Not text book knowledge, but transcendental knowledge. Today meditation is recommended to relieve stress and to uplift the mind. I have shared lots of information on meditation in my previous posts along with their benefits so I will re-post those links for your convenience.

https://yachnayoga.wordpress.com/meditation/,

https://yachnayoga.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/prescription-meditation/

https://yachnayoga.wordpress.com/meditation/meditation-2/

https://yachnayoga.wordpress.com/meditation/i-will-start-meditating-tomorrow/

While meditation or mantra japa will help you make the big shift, the day to day tips below are recommended as an adjunct.

  • When you practice any activity do it with awareness and attention. So if you practice yoga and pranayama, practice with awareness.  Your mind, body and spirit should become one.  If you are mechanically and mindlessly doing the poses but your mind is wandering to all the useless or negative stuff, you won’t get anything out of your session.
  • Spend time in nature.

    DSC_7784

    yachna yoga:Spend time in nature

  • Read a positive and uplifting article or book before bedtime.
  • Watch happy shows that make you laugh. Watch educational/inspiring shows.
  • These days our minds are scattered and agitated most of the time. Cut down multi-tasking. Spend less time on social media. With instant messaging, whatsapp, FB etc our minds are scattered in many different directions. Minimize such distractions. Unfollow certain ‘friends’ so you cannot see their posts and place them on the restricted list so they can’t see your posts. This will distance their orbits from the nucleus of your life.

Quick Fix and most effortless methods to improve your vibration when you are feeling very low. Sometimes you might feel really low on energy and down in spirits and in need of a quick fix in.

  • SMILE-it will help diffuse a lot of that negative energy. Just smile. You might feel silly smiling for no reason and might even say-“How can I smile when I’m not happy?” OR “I’ll smile when things are better.” But trust me –smile and things will be better because you will start feeling better. Don’t argue with yourself against smiling. Don’t say anything. Just smile for no reason. When you wake up in the morning just smile without a reason. Set your morning alarm with this positive reminder to SMILE.
  • MUSIC: Play your favorite upbeat music. No sad tunes. Just something that makes you want to get up and dance.  Notice how it quickly alters your mood to a lighter state.
  • Call a friend: Call a friend and talk to them about everything except what’s weighing you down. By the time you are done with the phone call you will feel so much better. But if you just discuss what’s weighing on your mind (especially if these are just repetitive stale thoughts you recycle daily) then you will only feel worse afterwards. So steer your conversation away from anything that will perpetuate your low vibration state.
  • Shopping: Going shopping/window shopping is definitely a distraction that can help you out of low spirits.
  • Watch a funny show or movie

Why is it that the people we care for a lot are the ones who end up hurting us the most?

Why is it that the people we care for a lot are the ones who end up hurting us the most?

When you invest yourself in people you know there is at some subconscious or even conscious level an expectation that your efforts will be reciprocated in equal magnitude. When it is not reciprocated we get hurt.

If you are a naturally giving person by heart and tend to give of yourself, it is best to give your time and effort to other causes, to people who actually need help.

When you give a bag of food and clothes to a homeless person do you ever carry any expectation that one day that homeless person will help you or reciprocate your kindness?

No. Not at all. You don’t even remember the face of the person you helped. You feel satisfied and you move on; there is a feeling of happiness and freedom.

This feeling is missing when you invest a lot of yourself in people you know-friends/family/relatives.  The reality is – They don’t need so much of you. They are quite capable. So there is really no need to be giving so much of yourself to them. Save that part of yourself for those who need you, not those who take advantage of your generosity; OR when helping friends and family adopt a different mentality-that of charity. When you do charity there is automatically no feeling of expectation.

INSTEAD OF HELPING NEEDY PEOPLE-HELP PEOPLE IN NEED.

Two major things will be accomplished by adopting this:

– Emotional freedom and contentment deep down for you, and

– The world will be a better place 🙂

“One is never wounded by the love one gives, only by the love one expects.”
Marty Rubin

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