History and context of Integrative Yoga – Yoga for the health of the whole person

by Joseph Le Page

Integrative Yoga began in the early 1990’s as a training program in Yoga and mind-body health. The mind body health movement was gaining acceptance through an understanding of the ways that both positive and negative mind states affect both health and healing. Of course, this is something that Yoga had understood for millennia. The Yoga Vasistha from the 5th century presents this simply and clearly: “good health comes from good thoughts and illness is the effect of negative thinking”. So, although mind-body health is not new, scientific research into the effects of attitudes and lifestyle on health is relatively new. Integrative Yoga Therapy, founded by Joseph Le Page in 1993, was the first training program to explore the interface of Yoga and mind-body health and healing. The first Integrative Yoga Therapy training in Brazil was held in 1996.

The students in this program were mostly Yoga teachers who wanted to understand the mind body dimension and include it in their work both with therapeutic groups and in one-on-one Yoga Therapy sessions. What we discovered was that the Yoga teachers entering our Integrative Yoga Therapy Training Program lacked many areas of knowledge in Yoga theory and practice that provide a foundation for more advanced studies. Some lacked a technical understanding of the Yoga postures; others lacked an understanding of the spiritual context of the Yoga practice and many lacked teaching and communication skills. Joseph Le Page and Lilian Aboim created the Integrative Yoga Teacher Training Program to meet the need for a fully prepared teacher of Yoga for the health of the whole person. This comprehensive Yoga Teacher Training program has been offered at Enchanted Mountain Center in Garopaba, Santa Catarina since 2003.

There are a number of core principles that form the foundation of the Integrative Yoga Teacher Training Program and make it unique:

Yoga for the health of the whole person – Integrative Yoga classes provide a balanced approach to health for all dimensions of the person, physical, energetic, psycho-emotional and spiritual.

Yoga poses within the context of overall human development – The yoga poses are powerful vehicles for health and healing and our students develop in depth mastery of them, not as ends in themselves, but as means for becoming a whole human Being.

Experiencing the benefits of Yoga class in daily living – The skills and insights students gain about themselves and their lives in Integrative Yoga allows them to take the benefits of the class beyond the Yoga mat and integrate them into daily living as an enhanced sense of appreciation, inner peace, fulfillment and meaning.

Integration of all Facets of Yoga in the Yoga class – The health and wholeness cultivated through Integrative Yoga is supported by a balanced integration all the Hatha Yoga tools and techniques in each class including asana, pranayama, mudra, affirmation, relaxation and meditation.

Yoga classes appropriate for multiple levels – Integrative Yoga teachers develop the skills to offer Yoga classes at a wide range of abilities and also to adjust the class to individual needs so that different levels can practice effectively in the same class.

Classes with themes that give each experience focus and meaning – These themes can relate to particular areas of practice such as developing greater strength or balance, and can also be used to cultivate specific qualities such as Self-esteem, inner peace and clarity. These qualities are sometimes supported by mudras e affirmations that allows them to be integrated more fully.

 

Experiential learning – During the Teacher Training Program, all subjects including Yoga Philosophy and anatomy and physiology are taught experientially, by doing and feeling in the mind and body, instead of intellectually or theoretically, thereby allowing them to be integrated completely.  The teachers can then apply this experiential approach to learning in their own classes.

Teachers graduate fully equipped and ready to teach – because of the in-depth nature of the program and a ten-step methodology that covers every aspect of Yoga pedagogy from greeting the students to final relaxation, new teachers of integrative Yoga complete the course fully prepared to offer Yoga classes to the public. Each new teacher conducts a full class to a small group of fellow students before the conclusion of their training program.

Supportive teaching resources – Integrative Yoga Publishing offers a wide range of support materials for Yoga study including the Yoga Teacher Toolbox and Mudras for Healing and Transformation, among the most widely used texts for all teacher training programs both in the US and Brazil. New products are constantly being developed and introduced.

Focus on the student rather than the teacher – Some forms of Hatha Yoga are hierarchical and dogmatic with a focus on the organization and a guru or teacher. Integrative Yoga focuses on the unique individual needs of each student as a means to whole person health and healing without any form of religious hierarchy.

Each Yoga teacher is unique – some forms of Hatha Yoga teach a uniform sequence or sequences and the student molds themselves to that methodology. At Integrative Yoga, we provide a solid foundation in all aspects of Yoga teaching that allows each of our teachers to develop their own unique, creative approach to Yoga teaching based on their interests and their student’s needs. This individualized approach also reduces dramatically the possibility of injury.

Creativity and enjoyment in Yoga classes – Integrative Yoga teachers learn a wide range of special techniques ranging from Somatic movements to partner Yoga, Yoga with slings and the use of the cards from the Yoga Toolbox and Mudras to make their classes an absorbing and creative learning experience that student return to ongoingly.

Self-knowledge – The well-rounded focus on all the aspects of Yoga supported by the experiential methodology allow teachers and students to cultivate a lived experience of the essence of Yoga through a growing sense of inner freedom, autonomy, inner peace and a knowing of our life’s true purpose and meaning.

 

 

 

 

Yoga and the coronavirus

by Joseph Le Page

According to the philosophy of Yoga, prakriti, the material world, exists with the purpose of recognizing purusha, our true Being. In other words, the world is a field of learning that exists for the bloom of our true being as purpose and destiny of our life. If, as Yoga says, the world is a field of learning whose goal is spiritual awakening, what are the lessons to be learned from the current pandemic of the coronavirus? Although I fully recognize the gravity of the situation and the understandable fear and anxiety that the entire planet is experiencing, there is also something positive that can come from it; is there also a teaching?

 

Reflecting on this, several topics are presented:

Fragility – The social, political and economic systems that sustain the lives of human beings, including governments, health systems and companies, strive to present an image of permanence, stability and even invincibility. The current crisis reminds us of our fundamental fragility and vulnerability. This virus is a human tragedy, especially because it takes away from us those who should be most valued, the weak and the elderly. Compared to other pandemics in the past, however, this virus is not among the most threatening to life. Even so, it is beyond the ability of many governments and healthcare systems to deal with it effectively. From the point of view of Yoga, this fragility is inherent in our midst, which is subject to constant changes. This impermanence inherent in all things created is a vivid reminder that this life is not to be an end, but only a means to the recognition of our true being, a source of inner strength, of peace, and peace, which is always present, regardless of what is happening around us.

Interconnectivity – There were much worse pandemics in the past, but the world has never been as interconnected and interdependent as it is today. In the past, crises happened in other countries, far away, with no direct relation to our lives. Today, however, the mutation of a virus in a wild animal market in China almost instantly becomes a crisis for the entire planet, not only from the point of view of health, but also by all the large scale economic implications. Yoga teaches us the consciousness of our interconnectivity, that every thought and action is like stones thrown in a lake whose waves spread infinitely. Therefore, Yoga teaches awareness in all our activities with an understanding of how they will affect others and society in general. Yoga teaches the interconnectedness of all things, so that we, as a species, can no longer afford to act in an individual or selfish way.

Respect to nature – it is a known fact that the coronavirus can spread from unfit and unnatural creations of wild species, but what is less known is that this type of transmission is more likely when these species are under stress. This virus originated in China, but the number of places on the planet in which nature is threatened and under stress is numerous and increases exponentially. We can’t separate ourselves from the cycles and rhythms of nature whose essence is balance and harmony; we can’t expect nature to be patient with us indefinitely, even if our abuse of the natural world continues to continue. This virus can’t be seen separately from deforestation and global warming. Nature is Gaia, a living entity whose care and balance is now an absolute necessity for the survival of our species.

Simplicity – Many of us around the planet now live under restrictions in which only essential services, such as health, food and medicines, are working. With most of our shops closed, we have the possibility to see how many of our desires and needs really go beyond what is absolutely necessary. Yoga tells us that the search for satisfaction through material things will never be enough, because the material world was not to be an end in itself, but only a means of discovering the intrinsic contentment of our true Being. Yoga also teaches that we seek satisfaction and happiness in our surroundings in such a compulsive way, because the pleasure that we experience through material things is a glimpse of the complete peace of our true being that we know that is always present and waiting The best of the world. Maybe this is a time to reflect on our true desires, needs and priorities, wondering if the happiness we seek is in the material things or if it is already really present in our own being, closer to us than our own breath, waiting only to be clearly recognized.

Appreciation – In this moment of crisis, many are separated from the things that are used to do, things that provide pleasure and comfort, and even those that support our spiritual growth and awakening. Some are simple things, like meeting up with friends and family, going to a Yoga class or other group activity, walking in the park or going to the beach. Perhaps this moment of social distance is a time for a deeper appreciation of the blessings that we receive in every moment of daily life. This pandemic reminds us that even our breath is a gift and that we must live and breathe every moment, even the most challenging, with a lot of gratitude and appreciation.

Autonomy and freedom – According to Yoga, prakriti exists for purusha; all creation is a field of learning whose purpose is to awaken to our true Being. The body is a precious vehicle for this journey and, in times of crisis, it is normal for survival, both physical and economic, to become priority. And although this is a time to focus on staying physically healthy, it should also be a time to focus on the ultimate goal and purpose of this body, which, from the perspective of Yoga, is to know the true Being beyond any doubt, theory and questioning, through spiritual awakening. And while the physical being is finite, the true self is infinite and immortal; it is who we are in reality, who we have always been and who we will always be. Even if we value what is finite in this moment of crisis, this is also a moment to prioritize what is immortal, infinite, and always waiting to be seen, our real being, through the practices of yoga and meditation.

Mudras for Spiritual Awakening

Along the spiritual path, we move from the identification with the limited personality to an experience of our limitless true being, from fragmentation to wholeness, from doubt to clarity and from suffering to freedom. Most spiritual traditions present the cultivation of positive qualities as an important support for our spiritual journey. We begin by cultivating these qualities consciously and, as conditioning is released, we gradually come to see that these positive qualities are reflections of our own true being.

The following spiritual qualities have been especially helpful in our own journey toward healing and awakening. Each of these qualities is supported by a specific mudra along with its accompanying inspiration, meditation and affirmation.

  1. Commitment, Sthirata – Making the spiritual journey our first priority.
  2. Openness, Vipulachetana – Gaining a wider, more open perspective of ourselves, life and other people.
  3. Faith, Shraddha – Developing confidence in our true inner being, allowing it to guide our spiritual journey.
  4. Acceptance, Kshanti – Welcoming all that happens in our lives wholeheartedly as a learning and a blessing.
  5. Compassion, Karuna – Recognizing our essential unity with all beings.
  6. Discernment, Viveka – Distinguishing clearly between our limited personality and our limitless true being.
  7. Equanimity, Samatva – Resting in our center securely so that we are not shaken by life’s ups and downs so easily.
  8. Spiritual Energy, Shakti – Cultivating the vitality that supports our spiritual journey.
  9. Self-Mastery, Vashitvam – Releasing identification with our conditioning to become the masters of our own destiny.
  10. Freedom, Moksha – Integrating wisdom and compassion, allowing us to experience the freedom and unity that are the essence of our true being.

 

 

By Joseph Le Page and Lilian Aboim
*Introduction of Chapter 15, Mudras for Healing and Transformation

Yoga Nidra

Yoga nidra is rooted in the Tantric tradition. Tantric practices also combine visualization and respiration to induce particular psycho-spiritual states. The original Tantric form of yoga nidra is called nyasa, which means “to place.” Nyasa is a Tantric technique to awaken, harmonize, and perfect each part of the body through mantras placed in each body area. Each part of the body, including the joints of the fingers and toes, has a particular mantra dedicated to it as a way of sanctifying the entire body in a precise and all-inclusive manner. A simplified variation is to internally chant the sound of OM and place it in each area of the body.

This practice has a strong neural-physiological foundation based on the architecture of the cerebral cortex. The cortex has a “homunculus” or “little man” mapped along its surface. This little man has all the body parts of the human being, but the proportions are very different. The hands and face occupy the largest area and therefore the largest number of neurons. Complex movements of the hand and the mouth used for communication occupy large areas, while the legs and trunk occupy relatively less.

As we place awareness in each part of the body, we tune this area into the sensing channels and away from the thinking channels. The brain cannot think and feel simultaneously. The alternation is so quick that it appears to be simultaneous. Therefore, the overall effect of rotating our awareness through the body is the systematic disconnection of the body from the higher thought processes that induce tension. The result is complete relaxation.

Yoga nidra can be defined as yogic sleep. It is a combination of relaxation, affirmation, respiration, and visualization techniques that work together to facilitate the integration of body, mind, and spirit. Because of this multidimensional approach, yoga nidra is unsurpassed as a form of relaxation for the physical body, as a vehicle for clearing psychological problems, and as a method of profound meditation.

Yoga nidra can reach different levels of the individual, depending on their need and the type of yoga nidra presented:

At the level of Sthula sharira: (gross physical body)

Relaxation of the physical body

  • Physical relaxation supports healing from stress-related illness.
  • Physiological and psychological rejuvenation can arise from deep relaxation of the physical body.
  • Enhanced body awareness supports self-care and reduces potential for injury and progression of disease.

At the level of Suksma sharira (subtle body):

  • Here yoga nidra is considered traditional yogic psychotherapy. Through self-awareness and mindfulness, the yogi comes to witness the mind and thoughts, a process called antar mouna or inner silence. Another technique known as Chidakash dharana internalizes the senses to improve perception of inner mental and psychic experiences.
  • Deep relaxation techniques are helpful in the treatment of insomnia.
  • Learning is enhanced as a result of the deep concentration and focus that arise from these practices.
  • Acceptance and integration of emotions is brought about by these practices.

Karana sharira (causal body):

  • Yoga nidra reaches the deepest parts of the mind.
  • It supports the connection of the individual to cosmic consciousness.
  • It is a tool used as a portal to higher consciousness.

 

 

 

*extracted from Teacher Training Manual

What Is Yoga?

Yoga is enigmatic in that it is both a vast field of study and an expression of the deepest part of our own being. Yoga is a discipline that requires years of dedicated effort; it is also the art of effortlessness in which nothing needs to be done. Yoga is an ancient science developed by people of great wisdom in the distant past; it is also our everyday life and as near to us as our own breath. Yoga is a philosophy and psychology of great depth; it is also as simple as living a life of truth and freedom.

Because of its multifaceted nature, the definitions of yoga are also multifaceted. Rather than seeing these as contradictory, we can compare them to the Indian story of the blind men who were asked to describe an elephant. Each touched the elephant in a different place and came up with a different description. All were true, but each failed to describe the entire elephant. By looking at a number of different aspects of the definition of yoga, we will be able to better understand this multifaceted gem.

Yoga comes from a Sanskrit word yuj, meaning to link or join together. The root word is related to our English word yoke, as in the joining of two oxen to pull a cart. When we discuss what exactly is being linked together, it takes us immediately to the very heart of yoga. Yoga makes a distinction between our everyday self, the self that includes our physical body and our personality, and a larger or cosmic Self, the entire web of creation of which we are a small strand, a drop in the infinite ocean of life. This larger Self is usually distinguished from the smaller self by the capital S at the beginning of the word. The individual self is sometimes referred to as Jiva, while the cosmic Self is called Brahman. Yoga brings these two together as a single unity. When fully identified and integrated with the cosmic Self, the individual self is called Atman.

From the perspective of the universal Self, yoga is actually linking together two things that have never been separate. From the perspective of Brahman, all of life is one unity with no separation anywhere. The function of all the various techniques of yoga is to bring us into connection with and help us remember and become increasingly aware of a unity that is already always present.

A main resource for defining and understanding yoga is Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. These 195 short aphorisms compiled some 2,000 years ago give a concise and, at the same time, in-depth portrait of the system of yoga as a whole. In the second sutra, yoga is defined as control of the modifications of consciousness. These modifications are all the thought patterns and emotional patterns that keep us tied to the illusion of the limited self and keep us separate from an experiential understanding of the larger Self.

So, yoga is the vehicle that helps us see through patterns of thought and emotion that obscure the experience of unity. Yoga is also the experience of unity itself. Yoga as a vehicle is important because we use it to get where we’re going. Yoga as the experience of unity is fundamental since this is our ultimate destination. It is important not to confuse the vehicle with the destination. In spiritual lore, this mistaking the path for the goal is expressed as confusing the moon with the finger pointing toward the moon. The vehicle is fundamental for the journey, but at some point we’ll need to leave the vehicle to arrive fully at our destination.

 

*extracted from the Teacher Training Manual

To understand the foundations of Yoga Therapy

To understand the foundations of Yoga Therapy, we can use the model of a structure supported by four pillars:

  1. Yoga Chikitsa DarshanaThe vision of Yoga Therapy
  2. Yoga Chikitsa MargaThe path or process of Yoga Therapy
  3. Yoga Chikitsa SadhanaThe tools, techniques and methods of Yoga Therapy
  4. KaivalyaThe result of Yoga Therapy

 

Yoga Chikitsa Darshana – The Vision of Yoga Therapy

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali form the basis of the Yoga Therapy vision and the first four sutras are the essence of Integrative Yoga Therapy for health and healing. The translation of these sutras below reflect the Yoga Therapy perspective:

  1. The teaching of Yoga begins when we become conscious of the unsatisfying and destructive nature of a life out of balance;
  2. Yoga is a process of harmonizing all that is out of control and confusing in our lives, including fears and desires, so that we can stop walking in circles;
  3. We may therefore rest in our true nature when we experience the peace and joy that provide us with abundance and a deeper sense of living;
  4. We will continue our search and our effort without encountering true satisfaction and, in the process, create stress patterns and suffering that lead us to imbalance and illness. The rest of the sutras in the first chapter expand upon this darshana, or general vision.

In the second chapter, there’s a clearer approach on health and illness according to the Model of the Five Kleshas. The Kleshas describe the process of illness that occurs when we’re not in a yogic state. The Kleshas can be understood within the context of Yoga Therapy as the following:

  • Avidya – lack of understanding of our true nature. Avidya, or ignorance of the truth of unity, is the source of all forms of illness. Ignorance refers here to a lack of understanding that all of life is interconnected and that each one of us is an integral part of the web of life. Avidya is the inability to perceive the larger dimension in relation to oneself, one’s relationships and the world as a whole.
  • Asmita – egoism, a natural consequence of avidya, a way of thinking and acting in which the individual is the center of the world and the world revolves around him/her.
  • Raga – Desire, wanting to achieve, obtain, secure, attach.
  • Dvesha – Aversion, displeasure, anger, the act of avoiding all that represents a threat. Attachment and aversion are a natural consequence of the individual ego that resides in separation, which on the one hand, results in competition and attachment and on the other, fear and anxiety.
  • Abinivesha – Fear of death, underlying existential anxiety. Abinivesha is sometimes defined as “fear of death”. In a larger sense, it’s the existential anxiety that accompanies life without a clear sense of meaning and purpose. Abinivesha is the feeling of falling into a trap, of being on a narrow cliff and falling between life and death, with disaster looming.

The Yoga Sutras offer an integrated analysis of health and disease:

  • Heya – the source of disease is samsara, or a life lived as separation.
  • Hetu – the cause of samsara is avidya.
  • Hanopaya – the solution is self-knowledge through the practice of Yoga.
  • Kaivalya – the final cure is self-knowledge.

 

Yoga Chikitsa Marga – The path of Yoga Therapy

The path of Yoga Therapy is based on Ashtanga Yoga or the 8 Steps of Yoga. Each step is essential to the Yoga Therapy process so that complete healing is achieved. In relation to Yoga Therapy, these steps, or limbs, can be defined as:

  1. Yamas – The understanding of the importance of ethics, of values and qualified actions in the creation of holistic health.
  2. Niyamas – Precepts that emphasize the importance of aspiration and fundamental spiritual practice for the health of the body-mind-spirit.
  3. Asana – Appropriate structure, posture and corporal attitude that promotes health.
  4. Pranayama – The function of breath and the flow of vital energy (prana) with relation to health.
  5. Pratyahara – Abstraction of the senses in relation to the external world to make space for internal observation of the states of balance and imbalance and the removal of disease-causing patterns.
  6. Dharana – The practice of training and directing the mind toward states of health and balance.
  7. Dhyana – The experience of the whole being resting in its true nature as harmony and balance.
  8. Samadhi – Integration of the individual with the Whole. State of total health because the Whole is complete by nature; by aligning with this state, there is health on all levels.

 

Yoga Chikitsa Sadhana – The Practices of Yoga Therapy

Many of the practices of Yoga Therapy are founded on the ancient Hatha Yoga texts, such as the Hatha Yoga Padipika (1300 B.C). These texts are considered a preparation and foundation for Raja Yoga, a reference to the Yoga Sutras, and emphasize the therapeutic benefits of various Yoga practices.

In the introductory sutras, the text reaffirms its intention: “Hatha Yoga is the sanctuary for those who suffer from all types of afflictions.” Hatha Yoga is the foundation for the practices of Yoga Therapy. As the student progresses, meditation comes to play an essential role.

The Yoga Sutras describe the nature, process and techniques of meditation, as well as spiritual experiences that occur during meditation. A central point that’s explored in the Yoga Sutras is that the spiritual experiences aren’t the goal of Yoga, which, in truth, consists of self-knowledge.

Therefore, health and healing are biproducts of the integral process of transformation that occurs through the practice of Yoga. For a technique to have the desired benefit as therapy, it should be firmly anchored in the vision of the path of Yoga Therapy without losing sight of its goal.

 

 

Kaivalya – The Result of Yoga Therapy

Vision, path and technique come together to produce the integration of mind and spirit which is the fundamental basis of Yoga Therapy as healing.

Within this vision, specific areas or systems in the body receive special attention, but the health and cure as a whole occur when all the steps of Yoga are integrated in a program for transformation that embraces every aspect of the individual: physical, energetic, psycho-emotional, intuitive and spiritual.

 

 

Samkhya Philosophy, Foundation of Yoga

As a philosophical system, yoga has its basis in a philosophy called Samkhya, which means “list” or “enumeration.” Samkhya is a description of the universe and gives a detailed account of 24 different elements from which it is composed. Some of the elements contained within this description of the universe are the five great elements that make up all matter: earth, water, fire, air, and space.

Samkhya also lists the different levels of mind as elements within the created universe. These include citta, which could be defined as consciousness in the broadest sense. Next comes buddhi, which is our faculty of discrimination and higher wisdom. The conventional mind of thought and emotion is called manas, and that part of ourselves that identifies us as an individual being is called ahamkara,which can be related to the ego.

The Samkhya view of the universe corresponds well to the description of the universe found in modern physics. Both see the universe as essentially energy that has the appearance of matter in differing compositions, and both believe the universe originated from an initial unified source. In the case of physics, the beginning of the universe is the Big Bang. The same idea is found in Samkhya, but the essence of the universe in Samkhya philosophy is seen as a unified consciousness or cosmic intelligence from which all matter evolves.

When we begin to explore Samkhya philosophy together with the insights of quantum physics, we come up with some interesting possibilities. From this perspective, we are the universe. Each of us is a living cell within a living organism, which is our Earth. This means that we have always been here in some form since the beginning of the universe and will also continue to exist indefinitely.

When we extend these ideas to the history of yoga, we come up with a completely new approach. Rather than the history of yoga being a series of dates and names of spiritual texts and spiritual teachers, it becomes the story of our own lives. Each of our lives becomes a microcosm of the creation and evolution of the universe. In this way, the universe story, including the development of spirituality, becomes our own life story.

 

 

*extracted from the Teacher Training manual

 

Samkhya Philosophy for Children of all Ages

Once upon a time, there was a planet called Purusha. You could say that Purusha was a perfect place to live. Everyone was happy and there was a sense of timelessness and limitlessness. In fact, the people of Purusha were absolutely complete in every way. The only problem was that in all that vast kingdom there wasn’t a mirror to be found. Without a mirror, the Purushans couldn’t see themselves, and in fact, couldn’t know themselves at all, because in Purusha there was no sense of  separation

One day the Purushans heard about a far away planet called Prakurti, where it was possible to know one’s self in a world of duality, with the world out there and a separate “me” to experience it. This world of duality could be experienced through sound, touch, sight, taste and smell, so it was like having a mirror for all five senses. By traveling to Prakriti, the purushans would be able to have all of the limitless peace and joy of planet Purusha and also to know themselves as joyful, a journey of learning of exploration and learning, to return to Purusha enriched and more self-aware.

To make the journey to planet Prakriti, the Purushans needed spacecraft that could withstand the atmosphere when they arrived, so they built their ships from the same five elements that composed planet Prakriti – earth, water, fire, air, and space. Each ship was hand-crafted and had individual characteristics, but overall they fit into three basic models: the kapha ships were dense and solid, the pitta ships were fiery, with powerful engines, and the vata models were light and quick.

The ship itself was called Body. At the center of each ship was the main occupant, called Spirit, which carried the essence of limitless joy, the hallmark of planet Purusha. Each ship also had a pilot called Mind. Only through the integration of Body, Mind, and Spirit would the journey be possible.

At the beginning of their journey, the Purushans installed a powerful transmitter in space so they would always be in touch with planet Purusha. This transmitter to and from Purusha was called Mahat, which means “the great.” Each spacecraft also had an ultra-intelligent on-board computer, called Budhi, to make sure that signals coming from Purusha were received. In this way, the pilot of the ship would always be in touch with planet Purusha.

All the ships left Purusha together, but each had a unique journey. The kapha crafts were heavy and slow, but made steady progress. The pitta craft excelled in perfect performance, but when things went wrong, time was lost going over details again and again and looking for who to blame. The vata craft had the most exciting journey, exploring different universes and planets, but more than once forgetting where they had left the keys to the spaceship and losing time. In the end, all the spaceships arrived at the same time.

As they neared Prakriti, the pilots prepared the sensing devices they would need for exploration.  One set of sensing devices was the jnanendriyas, or instruments for knowing, such as ability to hear, touch, see, taste, and smell. The others were instruments for action called karmendriyas,  such as ability to speak, touch, move, grasp, eliminate waste, and even to procreate little Purushan ships.

As the ships neared planet Prakriti, they encountered a series of unexpected storms that form part of its atmosphere. There were storms of tremendous energy and turbulence, called rajas. There were also doldrums, called tamas, in which nothing moved at all. These cycles of rajas and tamas were interspersed with moments of perfect balance, called sattva, when the journey flowed smoothly and effortlessly.

All the ships managed to reach planet Prakriti, but the journey was a costly one. Most of the pilots arrived traumatized and suffered from chronic recurring amnesia, in which they forgot their original mission of exploration and self-knowledge in order to return to planet Purusha. They became mesmerized with the sense experiences on planet Prakriti, and came to believe they were there just to experience their equipment and drive their spaceships around in circles. This pattern of driving their ships around in circles, comfused about their mission in life, was called Samsara.

There were a few,  however, who remembered their true identity and purpose. These were called the Rishis, or seers, and Gurus, the ones who could lead the people from the circular trafficpatterns of planet Prakriti, back to the light of Purusha.Those that decided to make the trip back first needed to repair their ships from the chronic stress from sensory overload common on planet Prakriti. These repair stations, used a science called Ayurveda to put the five elements the ships were made from back into balance. Sometimes all of the ships’ systems had to be completely cleaned out, in a process called Panchakarma. Once in balance, the ships needed to have a path laid out for their journey home, and one of the clearest of these was compiled by a Sage named Patanjali. A manual on return to Planet Purusha in 8 steps, called Ashtanga Yoga.

The first two steps, called yama and niyama, were guides for conduct and behavior on the journey home. The third step, asana, was for keeping the ship stable and comfortable to ensure its structure along the way. The fourth step, pranayama, involved having adequate energy for the journey and using this energy wisely. The fifth step, pratyahara, involved removing the attention of the pilot from all of the distractions on planet Prakriti so they could re-focus on their true mission. The sixth step, dharana, involved setting a course and staying that course all the way home. The seventh step, dhyana or meditation, is the journey itself, with all the ship’s systems (Body, Mind, and Spirit) functioning in an integrated way, guided by Budhi in contact with Mahat to maintain a continuous communication with the energy of peace and joy from planet Purusha.

Through this system, many of the ships were able to return home, and once there, reassume their true identity as citizens of planet Purusha and return to a state of perfect happiness called samadhi, the final step, but not the same as when they left. Now they had with them the mirror of knowing. They knew planet Prakriti and the world of duality and now by returning to planet Purusha they were complete and whole and knew it to be so.

The final and deepest learning from this journey is that planet Purusha and planet Prakriti are actually one and that the world of matter and the world of spirit are not opposed to to each other, but that our own version of planet Prakriti, called Earth, is calling out for us to treat her with love and reverence so that Purusha and Prakriti may live together in peace and joy happily every after.