Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My aching back, where is the pain coming from?

All of us at some time or another are experiencing back pain, even children today are suffering with it.  For some the pain can become unbearable and bring a lot of misery into our lives where normal daily things can become very difficult, causing us a great deal of unhappiness and sorrow.  And for others it is just that annoying niggle that you just can’t seem to shift, again disturbing every day life. 
In modern science it is very easy to pin point where the back pain is, but it is not so easy to cure.  And this can be because we are looking in the wrong place for the cause of the pain and hence the wrong solution.  Back pain can be physical due to injury, strain on the muscle, damage to the vertebrae or disk, or pressure on a nerve.  Also it can be caused by other diseases i.e. kidney or heart problems, cancer or tumours, obesity etc.  But quite often the pain is caused by psychological stress.  The mind is very clever and the subconscious mind can create the pain to escape reality.  For example suddenly before a big meeting you don’t want to attend or an exam or interview you are very nervous about, you get a fever or terrible headache, the subconscious creating these so you can escape whatever it is that is causing you the stress.  The pain or the physical problem is being caused by a psychosomatic issue; that of an emotional or mental issue.  To feel the pain the prana (energy) has to be disturbed, and when you have the pain you focus on the pain creating tension in the muscles.  If it is stress causing your pain then often the treatments you are having will not work as you are only addressing the physical and not the mental issues. 
Therefore stress management has a very important role in back pain.  Of course there are heat treatments, wearing supports, strengthening exercises, sleeping on a hard mattress and massage,changes to our diet and lifestyle that can help.  However by following some simple relaxation techniques you can really relieve your back pain.  De-stressing your mind can make the pain vanish. 
The practice of yoga can help to both relieve stress to the mind and to the body, in practising meditation, yoga nidra, chanting of mantras, chanalysing your prana lying in savasana and a technique called cyclic relaxation, where the relaxation takes place in a standing position, for those of you who simply can’t lie in savasana. 
These techniques are vital for all of us but for those of you suffering with back pain, I believe that this is where you should start to approach the problem by de-stressing.
A simple meditation technique is to simply sit in a comfortable position that you can maintain for some time, place your hands in your lap the right over the left (dhyana mudra) you may sit on a chair as long as the spine is free and straight, or you can do it lying on the floor or standing upright, close your eyes, making sure you are not going to be disturbed for the duration of your practice and begin to watch your breath.  Follow your breath from the tip of the nose up through the nostrils feeling all the sensations, keep following deep into your lungs, then follow it back out again from the lungs up and through the nostrils.  Become aware of nothing but your breath, the subtle sound it makes and the gentle movements of your tummy as it rises and falls, letting go of everything else going on in your life, just breathe and find your peace.  You will naturally begin to release any tension in the muscles during this process.  Choose a realistic amount of time that is going to be doable and stick to that time for the practice, it could be just a few minutes or up to half an hour or even longer, that is up to you. 
It is amazing how stressed we can become without even being aware of it, so be careful and really take the time for proper relaxation where the whole body and mind can rejuvenate and you can free yourself from the pains in your body.
For now be calm and content and find peace
Om Lokha Somasta Sukhino Bhavantu
May all living entities find harmony and balance
Om shanti shanti shanti
Peace peace and perfect peace
Mangala / Nicky.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Smile from within and be content!

Contentment is one of the four gateways to liberation according to the Yoga Vasistha; the supreme yoga.  Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing to not be worried about what is around the corner, to not be worried about what the future holds, but to just have that warm smile from within in contentment of any situation, ready to flow with the river to wherever it may take you.  To not need to quench the thirst of our senses and sense pleasures but just be able to sit in good and wise company and simply be content.  Here is what the Yoga Vasistha says, an ancient scripture that can answer all the questions that arise from the human mind.  It is a dialogue between the Sage Vasistha and a young Lord Rama who has fallen into a depression, it has been a favourite scripture of spiritual seekers over the past few centuries and has a real rational and accessible approach of Vedanta philosophy, so enjoy -

“Contentment is another gate-keeper to liberation.  He who has quaffed the nectar of contentment does not relish craving for sense-pleasures: no delight in this world is as sweet as contentment. 
What is contentment?  To renounce all craving for what is not obtained un-sought and satisfied with what comes unsought, without being elated or depressed even by them -  this is contentment.  As long as one is not satisfied in the self, he will be subjected to sorrow.  With the rise of contentment the purity of one’s heart blooms.  The contented man who possesses nothing owns the world.”

It goes on to tell us that as well as contentment that also self-control, enquiry and keeping company of the good and wise are also gateways to liberation.  It is very hard to just be content the same as it is very hard to just stop being sad if you are sad, but through our practice we can find the answers, through the practice of just one of these gate-keepers then the other 3 will follow, but it has to be through our own self effort.  The highest wisdom will then seek you of its own accord, it explains that until you can tame the wild elephant we call the mind through these 4 practices of contentment, wise company, self enquiry and self control there can be little or no progress towards the supreme goal, to free ourselves, therefore we must practice!

So let us smile from within in contentment of our beings, sit in your own love and light, beautiful people will want to be with you when you yourself are content and have calmed all wants of this and that.  Be satisfied in the fact you have this wonderful human life where you can discover yourself, that is enough to be contented with isn’t it?

Om Lokha Somastha Sukhino Bhavantu
May you all find peace, balance and happiness
Om Shanti Shanti Shantih
Peace peace and perfect peace

Mangala / Nicky

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How 3 types of food effect your mind - which would you choose?

“The body is the temple.  The soul is the idol in it.  It is made out of bricks of food.”  Bagavad Gita.

If we don’t feed our bodies with the right food our soul will leave!  The quality and quantity of the food we eat directly affects our whole system, how we think, how we react and how we feel.  Not only is the food we eat our energy for the day but it is what is making our bodies, that energy directly turns into tissues and cells so we must think carefully about what we are making our ‘body home’ with.  Would you make your house out of a packet of biscuits or bars of chocolate?  Maybe the answer is yes!!  But what we eat and drink also really does have a profound effect on the mind, that monkey that likes to jump here and there and cause lots of trouble!  So by what we eat we can also start to manage our minds a little more.  Certain foods will make us more prone to gossiping and being more egotistical whilst other foods can make us lazy and lethargic and others can make us calm, peaceful and have good morals, so which would you choose?  Eating wrongly can cause big in-balances in the body and mind system; this affects the pranic level (your energies e.g. respiration, circulation, excretion, reproduction and digestion.)  Any in-balance in the pranic level is going to weaken the immune system and cause disease, maybe of the body but also of the mind.  In fact any disease that is of the body effects the mind directly and visa versa, so we have to really take care of both.
There are three different types of food, Satvic, Rajasic and Tamasic.  Satwa induces harmony and balance, where rajas induces action and tamas induces lethargy and fear. 
These three qualities or ‘Gunas’ we can apply to our food.
Satvic food would be fresh organic vegetables, fruits, natural foods, cereals and grains, nuts and seeds.  Reasonably cooked not overly or under cooked.  Satvic foods are mildly spiced.  They bring cleanliness, calmness, wisdom and spirituality, harmonic thoughts and good morals.
Rajasic foods would be piping hot food, bitter, sour and saline.  Fried foods, coloured and with preservatives, processed foods.  White sugar, MSG, anything in a tin, packet or can.  Anything artificial.  With these foods arises a competitive mind, gossiping and listening to gossiping.  A fast paced mind, talkativeness, a big ego and self-boasting. 
Tamasic foods would be completely tasteless, cooked all night or overly cooked, impure food or food which is decaying.  Fermented foods are tamasic as are meats, alcohol and caffeine etc.  Tamasic foods bring fear and ignorance, lethargy and laziness, sadness and depression.
However having said this and it is quite clear that you can see what we should be eating as opposed to what our minds tell us we would like to eat, it is also important to know that we do actually as people living in the material world need all three of these types of food, but it is in which quantity that is important.  If we eat too much tamasic food we are likely to become depressed, too much rajasic food and we become too full of ourselves so we have to find the balance leaning toward a Satvic dominant diet with a few little bits from rajas and tamas.  Fermented foods are tamasic like dairy products and dosa or idly, but we need a little bit of the B12 contained within them.  If we are working hard which most of us are in this modern world then we need a little rajasic food for our energy a little biscuit now and then is not going to hurt you.
Recommended is a simple healthy vegetarian diet and eating similar types at a time so it easier for the digestion.  You should work toward satwa, but we need to use the right combination of the three according to your situation.  If you are a yogi living in a cave in deep meditation then only satvic food is needed but if you are working then it is different, you need to work out how much of rajas and tamas your system is demanding, but EXCESS of these two will lead to disease of your system that is for sure.
So the important thing is to bear in mind what the types of food are and what effect they have on your mind and behaviour.  It is all about finding the balance and leading yourself more towards being a calm and peaceful person that others love to be around. 
For now have beautiful days full or fresh pure organic vegetables and fruits!!  Become a tree!!
Om Lokha Somasta Sukhino Bhavantu
Om shanti shanti shantih
May you all find happiness, harmony and peace peace and perfect peace.
Mangala – Nicky.