Healing the past by focusing on the present

youth-summit-lg (1)In this Life Reading, a client asked the following question:  My partner and I are currently separated. What does the future hold for me?

Parama received the following information for this Life Reading: Since you sent this request for a Life Reading, you have come to grips with many aspects of your previous relationship. You have struggled with the pain of realizing how you compromised your integrity, wellbeing and happiness while maintaining an unhealthy relationship that drained you of energy and resources.

Now that you’ve realized this, you wonder how you can have a good, healthy relationship. Do not be hard on yourself for what happened with your previous partner. A new relationship is imminent for you, as you are now doing the hard work of reconciling your past and opening your heart to a new partner.

Nothing has been lost. The lessons you learned will serve you as you forge ahead with a new love relationship, informed by the failures and successes of your previous partnership. The focus now should be on yourself and how you can achieve the highest state of contentment, wellbeing, and integrity for yourself.

Reconcile the pain of the past not through regret and shame, but by focusing your life force energy on the present – on making the present be the best and most fulfilling it can be.

Let’s start with your job: Are you feeling stifled, stuck, dissatisfied? Consider a career change. This will require a bold step for you – taking action that you’ve been avoiding, since your energy was consumed by your previous relationship. Now that you have aligned your energy to focus on yourself, you are ready to take the step of finding fulfillment in your professional life.

You seek a greater degree of self-expression, creativity, and application of your keen, exacting intelligence, which your current job does not offer you. This has led to an overall lack of self-esteem, as you have been forced by the nature of your job to follow a set of inane, uninteresting procedures that go against your personal beliefs and convictions about how the same results could be obtained through a much more efficient, less time-consuming, and more conscious way. The overall feeling of boredom, lack of initiative, and discontentedness you’ve been struggling with comes largely from the dynamic that arises daily in your job, where you are obliged to sacrifice your intelligence in exchange for following strict procedures.

Be assured that your unique gifts, talents and abilities are destined to find their expression in a much more fulfilling professional position. You must be prepared to enroll in a series of courses to qualify you for the work that you’ve always wanted to do, but heretofore have been unable to apply enough focus and willpower to achieve.

You can and will succeed in the career of your choice. Now is a good time to take the necessary steps to becoming better qualified professionally. Be cautious about giving notice at your current job too early. The financial security it offers you will serve you as you invest in your continuing education. The drudgery you’ve been feeling about your job will be replaced by a sense of excitement and anticipation as you attend classes and refocus your attention on doing something that you really want to do.

Your career aspirations were inspired during your childhood by an adult mentor in your life whom you admired. Recall this person, and if you can get in contact, you are encouraged to ask for advice and insight. Mostly, it will help you to remember the qualities and achievements that you admired about this person. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What inspired me about this person?
  • Why did I admire him or her?
  • What do I have in common with this person?

Can I now see myself being in the same role, and accomplishing similar things as this individual? Why? What do I have to do to achieve this?

Your new partnership will emerge as you take the next steps, as you will be finding yourself in the company of new people in environments where you would not otherwise go, were it not for your newfound focus on self-improvement and personal fulfillment.

Consider a new, trendy wardrobe that will help you “feel” more a part of your new circle of social connections and professional colleagues. Let your wardrobe be an external expression of your new career focus and success. Clothing can be a powerful manner of self-expression and reveals the way one wishes to “show up” in the world.

A lot of hard work awaits you, especially over the course of the next year. You will succeed. Whenever you feel discouraged, you should turn to a loving family member who supports you emotionally and can offer useful advice and encouragement.

There may come a point where you feel that you have fully “moved on” from your previous partner, but this person will not. You may be pressured to re-enter into the relationship. Be well advised that this would be an unnecessary distraction for you, and it would require you to shift your focus to such a degree, that you may be taken off course from your truly desired goals and aspirations.

You will have to be strong and overcome the obstacle of denying yourself what you want in order to provide for someone else. As a new identity emerges for you, the people you’ve been close to (including your former partner) will expect you to keep showing up the way you had before. It will take inner strength and determination to forge ahead with your new plans and goals. Write them down. Hang them up on a wall where you can see them every day. Do not let yourself be distracted or pressured into giving up on yourself.

It will serve you well to establish a new network of friends as you begin to make some changes in your life. Choose people your age and gender who are focused on similar goals. Spend free time with them and get to know them. Your new social circle will become increasingly important to you as you come closer and closer to achieving your lifelong dream.

Remember: let the focus shift from your past to your present, where all the potential for happiness and success can be found, waiting for you to realize.

-End of Life Reading-

I wish you blessings of happiness, success and fulfillment. Thank you for writing. —Parama

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Selfless service as a path to personal success and happiness

working-together-as-a-team-group_people1In this Life Reading, a client asked the following questions: 

  • I’d love to meet my soulmate/life partner. What do I need to do to make this happen?
  • I’d like to be successful in obtaining a job. What is it that I’m doing or not doing to make this happen?
  • I need to know at this point in my life where I am now in 2014 regarding my spirituality.

Parama received the following information for this Life Reading: It appears that you have neglected to properly attend to your home altar, an important observance that deserves daily care and attention. Take time to clean and refresh your altar space, filling it with auspicious, inspiring images and objects that uplift you and refocus your spiritual life. One important element to include is a spiritual text that contains scripture. You should read a passage daily and meditate on its meaning. This could be a text that you already own or could obtain locally. Be sure to choose a text that you will be motivated to read and reflect upon daily.

Is there someone in your immediate family who needs your help? An auspicious opportunity exists for you to offer help to this family member without expecting anything in return. Offering yourself with an attitude of loving compassion and non-attachment from the results (karma yoga) will provide you with some needed reconciliation from past offenses. Do not be concerned about how this family member may judge or criticize you; only offer your loving support with unconditional love, and be open to any positive outcomes that may arise from your selfless service.

You will benefit from improving your diet by reducing sweets and increasing your daily intake of pure water. Consider a more robust, disciplined exercise routine. This will help to cleanse toxins from your system and clear your mind so that you can focus and concentrate better.

Distractions seem to be one of the obstacles to maintaining a pure, clean state of mind. These distracting thoughts and cravings arise from a nexus of unhealthy habits that disturb peace of mind and mental balance. By improving your diet and maintaining an exercise routine, you will notice marked improvements in your ability to concentrate and enjoy a peaceful state of being.

This will further be supported by following the advice and guidance of your spiritual mentors, who have useful and practical wisdom to offer you in terms of specific spiritual practices that align you with your higher self.

Consider seeking the services of a local body worker to whom you feel an affinity. This could be a Shiatsu, Ayurvedic, Acupuncture, or Massage Therapy practitioner. Receiving therapy at least once a month will help you to access a state of mental, physical, and emotional wellness that you will benefit from for many years to come.

You are encouraged to enlist the help of a skilled practitioner of your choice who can answer your specific questions as they arise during the course of your treatment.

The opportunity for a trip to a faraway place will present itself to you through your affiliation with your local spiritual community. You are encouraged to take advantage of the chance to travel with a group of other people who will be aligned around similar values, and who will be prepared to pool their financial and social resources and connections to make this trip more affordable and accessible for everyone.

This trip offers a never-before, once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience aspects of a culture to which you are very attracted and connected, yet have been feeling estranged from. This sense of social disconnectedness and isolation can be transformed through your participation in this journey, which will connect you to people in a way that you otherwise wouldn´t in the course of your daily interactions.

It will be of great benefit to you to muster up the courage to participate more actively in the social events organized by your immediate community. When you are presented with a choice to either stay home or go out and be an active part of a community event, you are encouraged to show up and participate in any way you can.

You have valuable contributions to make that you may have been holding back from expressing due to some kind of self-doubt. As you participate more and more, you will overcome the obstacle of self-limitations and realize the joy of selfless, non-attached service to your community, which has a lot to offer you in return, should you be willing to show up – as you are – with no expectations.

You will be pleasantly surprised by the positive, fulfilling outcomes of your selfless service.

-End of Life Reading-

I wish you blessings of peace, health and happiness. Thank you for writing. —Parama

How yoga works: the relationship between prana, your thoughts, and your chakras

chakras labelledWhat is the real purpose of yoga?

Whether you are a beginning or advanced student of yoga, it is important to understand how yoga works, why it works, and how to maintain an effective yoga practice. There is a relationship between the inner, subtle energy of the body (prana), the quality of your thoughts, and whether your energy centers (chakras) are blocked or open.

I would like to thank my teacher, Geshe Michael Roach, for sharing the teachings presented in this article, which has been adapted from his lecture, “Principles of Yoga: How Yoga Works” given in Tucson, Arizona in 2004.

To fully understand the purpose of yoga, we have to understand how yoga works. First, let’s explore how prana flows through our inner bodies. We have 3 main channels of energy in our bodies: (1) the central channel (sushumna nadi), (2) the left side channel (ida nadi), and (3) the right side channel (pingala nadi). According to the ancient Vedic text, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, there are 72,000 channels in the body, but these three are the major channels. Inside the central channel flows a subtle physical energy called prana, or inner wind. Your thoughts are riding on this energy called prana.

Your central channel (sushumna) starts between the eyes, goes right under the skull and down your back, inside the spine. The spinal cord has formed around your central channel, the ancient texts say, like ice forming around a twig, or like an ice cream cone that has been dipped in chocolate. The central channel goes down to your perineum, which is the base of your sexual organ, whether you’re a man or a woman. The central channel is translucent. It has a crystalline quality to it, and if you could hold it in front of you and see through it, you would see a fiery golden color inside the central channel.

In Sanskrit, the central channel is called sushumna. Su means good. When you repeat it, it means “really good,” so sushu means “really good”. And then mna is where we get the word “hymn”, which means “a holy sacred song”. So, sushumna means “beautiful song.” When prana is flowing freely through the central channel, you have pleasant, happy, healthy thoughts and feelings. You feel joy, generosity, kindness, love, etc. The central channel is the ecstasy channel, the joy channel.

When you have an orgasm, all the wind flows into the central channel and out from the side channels. That’s why an orgasm feels so good, and why it’s highly addictive: The entire world wants it! To have an orgasm is a profound, powerful desire. According to the ancient texts, The only other time you get all the winds collected into the central channel is when you die.

The two side channels of prana run alongside the spinal column, where the central channel is located. The left side channel, called ida nadi in Sanskrit, means “white as a sheep.” The right side channel, called pingala nadi in Sanskrit, came into English as “pink.” It means “a reddish-pink color.” The two side channels are the reason why we have two halves of our bodies: the left and the right side. That’s why we have two nostrils, two eyes, two hands, etc. Our physical bodies have formed around the two side channels of inner energy. The two side channels run down the left and right sides of your body. The two channels follow alongside the central channel except at the nose, where they extend down to the left and right nostrils. Then, they go under your skull, inside your spine, and go down, curve around, and come up at your perineum, at the base of your sexual organ.

Imagine three pipe cleaners side-by-side, representing the three inner channels where prana flows through your body. At certain areas in your body, the two side channels cross over the central channel and then cross back, creating a knot. This knot chokes the central channel (sushumna). Then, the prana cannot flow freely through the central channel and instead gets re-routed into one or both of the side channels.

When the prana is flowing through the side channels due to a knot in the central channel, then you have negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions. The central channel is then choked, and prana cannot flow freely through it. What happens then? You were being kind, nice, and feeling happy. Then there was a traffic jam. You started feeling angry and frustrated. Maybe you had thoughts about cutting the guy off or giving him the finger. Your prana started moving in the right side channel (pingala nadi), in which run our thoughts and emotions related to anger, sadness, and shame. This choked the central channel. Now you are not feeling kind and happy.

The worst place for this to happen is directly behind your heart, at the anahata chakra. Anahata means not struck, like the sound of a drum with no one beating the drum—the sound of your heart. There are three twists around this chakra. This is the only place in your body where the side channels twist around the central channel three times. It is the most difficult chakra to open for this reason. The most difficult thing to do is to love people and to be concerned about loving people.

When the side channels cross over the central channel, that’s called a knot—a granti. When you have your next positive, loving thought, it has nowhere to go, because the central channel is choked. Then, like a clogged pipe, the central channel gets “backed up” above and below the knot. This build-up of pressure inside the central channel causes it to burst! This is what creates a chakra, which means “wheel.” The chakras are caused by a knot in the central channel, resulting in a build-up of prana that spurts out as a wheel.

Let’s consider being in a traffic jam. You are now feeling angry and frustrated. Then, you start having thoughts about cutting people off so that you can get to work on time. Your prana starts flowing through the left side channel, which has to do with fear, greed, and craving. Every time you have a negative thought, it chokes the central channel. In your desire and your anger, you’ve ruined your day, because you can’t perceive anything as pleasant, because of the knot in your central channel. You arrive at work feeling angry and upset. You are easily frustrated and lose your patience easily. You feel especially annoyed with that irritating guy in the next cubicle. You have cravings for junk food. These are all disturbing, negative emotions that result from prana running through the left and right side channels. Your central channel, your joy and happiness channel, has a knot, and prana cannot flow freely through your central channel.

What would happen if you could untie these knots in your central channel before work? What if you could make sure that prana was flowing through your central channel? If you could avoid these knots, what would happen at work? You would have a better day. You would not get angry during the traffic jam. You would have patient, loving thoughts. You would arrive at work feeling happy and peaceful. You wouldn’t feel irritated by that guy in the next cubicle. You would feel creative, focused, fulfilled, and happy.

The purpose of yoga is to release the knots in your central channel so that you can have kind, loving thoughts. If you practice some exercises in the morning that loosen these knots, then your job will change. Your life will change. This is how yoga works: It changes the way you perceive your world, because it changes the flow of subtle, inner energy (prana) in your body.

The heart chakra is the most difficult place to loosen the knot in your central channel. The only place in your body where the side channels twist around the central channel three times is at your heart, where your spine is, where the central channel is coming down. That is why it is so challenging to love people and let people love us. You have to open the heart chakra in order to feel love for other people. How do open the heart chakra? You untwist the three knots! Thus, we practice twists in our hatha yoga (asana) postures. Granti moksha means “to free up the knot.” Twists open up the chakras by loosening the knots around the central channel.

In hatha yoga, there are specific postures (asanas) that twist and stretch the body in different ways. Each yoga posture is designed to open specific energy centers (chakras) in your body.

Classically, there are seven chakras located in front of the spine, from the base of your spine all the way up to the crown of your head. Stretches direct inner wind (prana) out of the side channels and into the central channel. When you practice locks (bandhas) in yoga, you pressurize and direct prana to flow up the central channel, from the bottom to the top of your spine. Linking one posture to the next with steady breathing (vinyasa) distributes the prana evenly throughout all the chakras.

In an effective hatha yoga practice, the yoga postures must be practiced in order. You open up the bottom chakras first, and that frees up prana to the middle chakras, and that lets prana flow to the top chakras. Moving from the bottom chakra gradually up to the heart, throat, 3rd eye, etc. is more powerful than moving down, because you are trying to get prana to flow up to the crown chakra, where you can experience feelings of bliss and ecstasy. But in order to get there, you have to first open up all the chakras underneath. That is the purpose of yoga.