ARUN + YOGA = Fitness for the “Witness” – Part 2

Text from Red Alternativa (Madrid – Spain) – November – December 2001

In the summer of 1973 I was living in San Diego, about to begin my final year at the University there. What a time! I was a player on the Basketball team, which I loved, and also enjoyed everything connected to health, music, and good times at the beaches of southern California. I guess nearly every 21 year old faces a similar crossroad: What am I going to do in “the real world”? It was clear to me that I would not be able to continue with professional sports- I did not have the talent or competitive drive necessary for that. But the prospect of a full time job, which was mostly “mind oriented” and sedentary was not at all appealing to me. I remember looking around at the people who were older than me (who also were very juicy and connected to their bodies when they were my age) and dreading the predictable future- unnconnected and unhappy with my body energy, and basically uninspired by life. I mean, almost no one over 30 seemed to be happy and enjoying vibrant health. They had all started to appear stiff, tense, uptight, and serious in their bodies and attitudes. Many seemed to have no energy or time for life, other than “doing their duty”, and “getting by”. When I thought about the future in those terms, it did not look good. 

I remember asking myself: Is life in the human body nothing more than “a cross to bear”? Why is it that the typical human bodymind is so tense? Why is there such an accumulation of physical, mental, and emotional fear and pain in us all? Will it happen to me?!!?
It was at this time that I was luckily introduced to the Eastern inner science of Yoga.

I guess there are thousands of factors that contribute to this global dis-ease, but one thing is for sure. As people get older, they stop moving and stop living in their bodies intelligently. Movements become routine, repetitive, and unconscious. Most of the major joints of the skeleton are never competely articulated. Muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves become dull or over stressed, and blood/hormone circulation becomes toxic. People don’t breathe! This inflexibility, in itself, over many years, will undoutedly lead to various physical breakdowns, mental lethargy or anxiety, and emotional pain and frustration. Almost no one seems to value and utilize their own breathing, which is a major key to ulocking all tensions and fear. Everything is connected inside of us. No matter what age we are, or what our status in society is, or if we are male or female… the bodymind needs to continuously renew and rejuvenate itself. There is an in-built wisdom and life-source hidden within each Human Energy Field that needs to be watered through conscious, natural body movements and relaxed meditation. You can not remain uninterested in your body, mind, and breath and still expect to learn the art of relaxation and inner sensitivity. Just “thinking about it” will not do. Consistent, regular time is needed to “watch inside” and stretch, energize, “Witness”, in this sense of the word, refers to the seldom talked about, but universally available human ability “to observe” our inner processes of movement, thinking, feeling, etc., moment by moment. It is another way of describing “Meditation”, or “watching inside”; and relax all the bones. muscles, and nerves in your body. It is not difficult at all to practice Yoga, but it does require a certain respect, appreciation, and a love of caring for yourself. Yoga Asanas: the Science of Angles and Breath Yoga, as taught in ARUN Tacto Consciente, is entirely non-goal oriented. Use whatever senstations, thoughts, feelings, tensions, fears, or energy that are generated by doing the various “asanas” as a focus for your awareness in the present moment; and as a way of becoming more familiar with your body and inner consciousness as an organic unity. Your body moves through a miraculous, intricate system of “pulleys” (muscles , tendons, and ligaments), “levers” (bones), and shifting “fulcrums” (round articulations of the joints), powered by the “prana” (or “consciousness) within your breath. Each asana (a body position that is maintained for an extended period of time) gently and safely encourages the bones of your skeleton and the muscles and fascia that holds it together to temporarily “change their angles” relative to each other. One side of the articulation shortens, while the other side lengthens. Every “stretch” of a part of our bodies is basically felt because the bones of that part are changing their angles relative to one another. Our nerves and blood vessels flow along and between the bones, carrying messages back and forth to your brain, and you have over 200 bones in your body!! This “stretching” can be felt as an “inner touch” and can be gradually directed to the deepest tissues of your body. It is in the deeper tissues and the spaces between your bones where tension and fear accumulates, as well as most of our physical and emotional pain. This tension, fear, and pain naturally pollutes the mind, the brain, and the emotions- making it even more difficult to be “in the moment”. “Touching” activates “sensory nerve pathways” (hormones, endorphins, and feelings) and “motor nerve passages” simultaneously. There are ingenious “feedback loops”, or circuits, that enable this inner-activity to take place.

These pathways are made “bigger” through conscious movements and watching inside. Co-ordination, flexibility, gracefulness, and relaxation improve. Try to enjoy doing the asanas the way you would enjoy receiving a good, sensual massage. Get interested in all of the feelings and sensations. There is no need to compare your body with any one else- by moving in the “direction” of the various asanas (“changing of the angles”), everyone will benefit in their own way. The photos you see of the various asanas do not have to be attained in order to benefit from the practice. Just shift your body angles towards the indicated posture and it gets easier and easier. “Be yourelf”, and try not to judge or analyze what you are feeling- just let your consciousness be in the moment, flowing through the stretch. So, the technique, or the effort, is not to control the mind, but to just learn to focus one’s mind on the present experience. You should not stretch to the point of pain, and you should constantly search the whole body for places that can relax while you are doing the positions. The breathing is a little fuller and slower than usual, (in-breath through the nose and out-breath through the mouth helps circulate the Prana), and the breath is intimately connected to your brain’s ability to “let go” into the stretch. Let your mind (especially in the front part of your head), relax and soften. Take it easy and be patient. The inner chemistry of the bodymind is such that if you can relax in these positions for 1 minute each, every day, for a 3 week period you will experience many positive phenomena. The body becomes more conscious, looser, and psychologically lighter. Your Craniosacral System and cerebrospinal fluids are toned and cleaned, allowing deeper autonomic healing and clarity. Your “6th sense” – the kinesethetic sense which allows us to experience “chi” and inner motions, is greatly enhanced, and becomes more alert. Much more could be said, but it’s better to leave the possibilities open, and to trust your own feelings and experiences.