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Yoga Beyond Fitness Blog


About Karin

Yoga teacher, practicing yoga since 1997, teaching since 2003, writer/translator, global soul, world traveller (and sometimes beyond), passionate about eastern philosophy and western psychology, especially its application in mind-body practices such as yoga and somatic movement therapy, deeply in love with life, knows that our greatest teacher lies within, also sometimes a total mess - it's part of the package!

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    Recent Entries

    The Origin of Thought

    Tuesday, March 15. 2011

    Thoughts originate in your mind. They exist in your mind. They dissolve in your mind.

    The thought that you know something (or that someone else knows something that they share with you) doesn’t mean that this is true (individual or collective) knowledge or that this is all the knowledge there is.

    Everything that is known or will be known to mind originated, originates or will originate in a thought (anyone’s thought). It is for this reason that the knowledge we have today was and is only ever that: a thought.

    Likewise, the thought that you are a limited human being with limited knowledge (based on a thought) doesn’t necessarily mean that this being is all there IS – a being with a beginning and an end, with a birth and a death. On the contrary, what this means is that you can never know that you are limited. After all, everything you know or will know always appears to you as a thought in mind. And so, the belief that you are a limited human being with a limited mind or a limited consciousness is without a solid foundation. It’s a thought. An illusion. Or in Sanskrit, Maya.

    Yoga is a path that challenges you to be ever mindful of this core simplicity. For if you are, you would realize that true knowledge can only be found in NOT-KNOWING. It cannot be found anywhere else.

    Removing and transcending all your false identities and obstacles (to surrender everything you THINK you know) and to reside happily in Not-Knowing will clarify this confusion. The key is to learn to let go. To surrender to the certainty that mind can and will never know.

    When you stop hiding from NOT-KNOWING, it is much easier to steadily progress on the path of yoga. Patanjali’s first four yoga sutras make that clear. If you understand them, you understand everything, in principle.
    atha yoga anushasanam
    yogash chitta vritti nirodhah
    tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam
    vritti sarupyam itaratra

    now begins the study and practice of yoga
    yoga is to surrender the projections of the mind
    then the true nature of the self manifests
    otherwise there is identification with mental projections
    Food for thought: The above conclusion (=> knowledge) is of course only just that: a thought. Don’t count on me to further explain and enlighten you. Practice. Practice. Practice.

    Neti Neti - Neither THIS nor THAT

    Thursday, January 13. 2011

    Swiss Alps Neti NetiAs I was flying back to the South of France a few days ago, I took this photograph of the Swiss Alps covered in a dazzling blanket of snow. Absorbed in her iPod game and not fully aware of her surroundings, the woman next to me suddenly got curious and asked what I was photographing. I leaned back for her to look out of the window. She briefly gazed at the passing scenery, “Oh, the Alps. Have seen them many times. They always look the same,” and then went back to playing on her iPod.

    Just like her I’ve also seen the Alps many times before – but this time was different. Appreciating the strangeness and “otherness” of this winter landscape, it reminded me of how often we don’t really see what we’re looking at but instead only see what we’re looking for.

    Whilst taking snaps of what looked like a of huge pile of chopped Toblerone :) sprinkled with blue icing sugar, I became increasingly aware of the depths and vastness of my surroundings and how seldom I really see the whole of its splendour, richness and sheer magnificence. Unexpectedly, I found myself contemplating how often I look at my world from just ONE angle. MY angle. MY perspective. For example down below, I am frequently unaware of the magic going on up HERE at the other end of the spectrum. I rarely think about what my world might look like from THIS perspective up HERE. Yet, being up HERE and looking down, how come I can’t stop thinking of what my world looks like from THAT perspective down THERE?

    The absolute has no need for my point of view

    Habitually, most of us look in order to confirm what we think we already know, that is to say, we have a certain perspective of things that our mind confirms as we look at that thing (“Oh, the Alps. They always look the same”). We do this all the time, not only with our eyes but all our senses. The result is that we always see what mind is looking for (or what we think we know) but rarely what we are looking at (what we know we don’t know). We rarely allow ourselves to step out of our conventional patterns of physical and mental experience to challenge our limited point of view. Instead, we frequently insist on one perspective, outlook or opinion and ignore the many contrasts, opposites and dualities of life that give rise to the diversity of individual expression which we so much treasure.

    The photograph I took shows nothing more than what my eyes saw that day: THIS.

    Yet, it perfectly illustrates how little our habitual conditioning permits us to really see: the WHOLE. Or to be more to the point: neither THIS nor THAT.

    To admit that our current viewpoint doesn’t provide an accurate picture of the whole and to accept that other viewpoints may be just as valid as ours requires effort – effort to understand from all angles, effort to recognize the value of a different perspective, effort to appreciate diversity, but also effort to cheerfully abandon all these partial viewpoints yet again. For if we don’t learn to let go of everything that helped to guide us to this insight, we may find ourselves stuck in our own trap of limited fixedness.

    True transformation begins when we become aware of our actual condition

    Oddly enough, recognizing this is the first step to greater understanding. It takes a certain amount of introspection and reflection to admit that despite everything we know and experience we can never be sure to really see the whole picture given by our senses and interpreted by our rational faculties. It’s only when we recognize our own limited condition and then make the effort to look beyond our narrow horizon in order to endlessly explore, understand and honour the existence of another perspective, no matter how different, that the duality within us (THIS or THAT, HERE or THERE, etc.) slowly starts to fade.

    Little by little we open up to the unknown and, paradoxically, also learn to let go of it again. In this state of openness and constant letting go, there’s room for something new to emerge: the possibility for transformation.

    In the all-encompassing perspective, there’s neither THIS nor THAT

    Breaking through the conditioned cycle of our experiences and habitual patterns of thinking however isn’t simply a mental process. It’s a dynamic process that engages the whole of the body (our senses) as well as the mind (awareness of the present moment to explore WITH our senses what is actually happening). It requires to continually put into practice one of the key teachings of yoga: everything in the universe is in constant motion, including our body and our mind. Nothing is fixed. Nothing is permanent. THIS or THAT, HERE or THERE, etc. really have no meaning, except in a dynamic context where everything is interconnected and where everything is subject to change. To hold on to any fixed viewpoint in this perpetual movement of expansion and contraction clearly is incompatible with life – and opening up and letting go becomes the only way to offer an all-encompassing perspective.

    When we recognize this dynamic process and understand its implications, there’s a magical sense of wonder in everything we look at. Finally, we allow ourselves to flow with life instead of struggling against it.

    The irony however is that accepting this freedom of movement and letting go of our habitual tendencies, as easy as it may sound, is still one of the most difficult things for us to do. Several thousand feet high above the Swiss Alps it seemed so simple, so easy, so close. Upon touch-down, habitual reality caught up with me when, looking at my photographs, the woman with the iPod said to me: “Oh, THIS is what you were looking at.”

    Indeed, THAT is what I was looking for.

    How often are you looking in order to confirm what you think you know?

    And how often are you looking in order to discover something new?

    Happy Earth Day!

    Thursday, April 22. 2010

    Today, April 22, we celebrate Earth Day in the northern hemisphere, a day in which the world unites to inspire appreciation for the Earth's environment.

    Earth Day was founded in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson. Its main purpose is to raise public awareness of our fragile environment and to protect our planet. Celebrated in over 175 countries, Earth Day is considered the largest secular holiday in the world according to Earth Day Network. It is celebrated by more than a half billion people every year.

    What you can do?
       - Make your home Earth friendly
       - Appreciate < respect the Earth's environment
       - Plant a tree
       - Walk, bike, or carpool to reduce emissions
       - Know your carbon footprint

    Make a change! Make every day Earth Day!

    For more information visit the Earth Day Network.

    Meditation and yoga soon available on prescription?

    Tuesday, January 5. 2010

    The Mental Health Foundation, a UK charity, has released a report today calling for people who suffer from recurrent depression to be offered meditation techniques and yoga to help them out of the cycle of what psychiatrists call "learned helplessness." The "Be Mindful" report points to evidence that emptying the mind is more likely to help people to recover from depression rather than pills. The mental health charity has thus launched a campaign to make mindfulness courses based on meditation and yoga available widely on the NHS.

    One of the UK’s leading mindfulness experts, Mark Williams, Professor of Clinical Psychology and Director of the Mindfulness Centre at the University of Oxford, said: "We're beginning to discover that meditation practices can have extremely powerful effects on our health. We now have a very good treatment for recurrent depression which urgently needs to be rolled out to all patients that need it."

    Order the full report here.

    Read the official press release.

    Or visit the Be Mindful website live from the Tuesday 5 January.

    About the Mental Health Foundation: The Mental Health Foundation uses research and practical projects to help people survive, recover from and prevent mental health problems. The charity works to influence policy, including government at the highest levels.
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