Manifesting Your Perfect Life
In Central Oregon (Pony Butte), arid country with 40 million years of geological history – a manifestation of perfection. Picture from sipra’s recent trip.

In Central Oregon (Pony Butte), arid country with 40 million years of geological history – a manifestation of perfection. Picture from sipra’s recent trip.

Manifesting one’s life, or realizing what one imagines to be the perfect life, is known as Sankalpa, from ‘Kalpa', meaning vow or intention, and ‘san’, the connection with Godness/the Divine, or Universal Energy. In the yoga tradition, which refers to the Indian way of life, Sankalpa is simply connecting to the highest truth. It is unique for each one of us, and is as unique as each one of us (dharma).

Manifesting is not morphing into something that we are not; it is simply realizing who we innately are. It is not the ego-driven will that suddenly decides to get what it wants or thinks it needs. Dharma is what is uniquely you. You need to change nothing, you need to make no sudden decisions to make life suddenly perfect.

How do we manifest our best life?

• Be simple, like a child. Expect and know your Divine Self will guide you.

• Self study (swadhyaya). Meditate deeply, and constantly. Hear (passive act - accepting) rather than Listen (rational thinking mind) the messages from the Source.

• Faith works for the simple minded. Have faith. It is the Divine Will and not my will. The following are all connecting us to that Divine Source of Energy:

  • Iccha – the desire, the drive, the energy. Write them out. Revise them regularly.

  • Karma – the daily actions need to realize the dharma. If you are loving it and serving others, you are on the right track.

  • Jnana – Wisdom to stay on the right path. This takes time, discipline and perseverance.

Have no doubts! Each doubt lessens the energy of the unidirectional flow towards realization and Self-Realization.

May you be fulfilled.

Namaste,

sipra

NewsletterChris Johnson
Meditate More, Stress Less (August 2019 Newsletter)
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Hello, don’t save this newsletter to read later. Spend a moment reading it NOW. Keep you eyes on the words and your mind on the contentsMeditation! It was my topic for the July newsletter article, and the bottom line was that your best meditation practice is as simple as staying constantly focused on the present moment. This month we look at it in practical terms.

We are sensory beings and our thoughts can easily be deflected to whatever triggers the senses at any point in time. But if you have experienced the deep silence and openness of meditation you may be searching for a way to replicate that moment over and over again. You can spend a lot of time and money going to the latest classes and groups that “teach” you meditation. There is nothing to be learned about the meditation practice itself. Many techniques can direct us in the process, helping to quickly reduce chatter in the mind known as ‘chitta vritti’ in yoga (see Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.2). Meditation is simply awareness with nobody and nothing present, especially not the practitioner with their thoughts, sensations, or feelings.

In Chapter 3 (Vibhuti Pada or Progression) of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, four qualities are required from the aspirant in order to succeed in their practice. These are dedication, zeal, constant and uninterrupted awareness, and perseverance.

Add to that a few other qualities described by Frances Vaughan, PH.D. (who researched the common ground between psychotherapy and spirituality). Meditation is not meditation without these: releasing negative emotions, effort and consistency, authenticity in expression resulting in self-trust (I call this transparency), insight and forgiveness of oneself, and love practiced in both giving and receiving.

To this mix of the old and the new directions, add freedom from one’s ego and the conditioning that makes up our interpretation of life experiences, and events and our oftentimes thoughtless responses. (Refer to Sutra 1.40)

At YWB we offer 10 different ways to practice meditation. These are simply methods. Try one or all, use one or switch as your needs change to allow you to grow into a deeper practice.

Learn more about the 10 methods i teach at YWB. This month let's walk the labyrinth together. It is simple, profound and magical!

Join us on Sunday, August 25th from 3 to 5pm, for ongoing sessions on Practical Meditation.

Namaste,

sipra

Chris Johnson
Free to be You and ME (July 2019 Newsletter)
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Advaita (a – not, dvait – other) means ‘One Undivided’, and 'Without An-Other'. This is the essence of the Vedantic philosophy of non-duality. When we can get to the point of losing that distinction between I/Me and the Other, we are in a state of awareness without conflict or contradiction. This state happens spontaneously but it takes a lifetime to realize the simplicity of the present moment. This involves a life of moderation, meditative practices and sharing life transparently with all sentient beings. This concept of non-dual consciousness exists in most religions, including the Christian and Neo-Platonic traditions (e.g. mystical union).

You may think this is not for you, my friend the reader, at this time in your life for you have much to do and much to accomplish. It is however worth being aware of this so you can keep this on the back burner with the burner set on low all the time, so to speak!

A modern sage from India, Ramana Maharshi (1879 – 1950) is well known for his famous little booklet, ‘Nan Yar’ (written in his native language, Tamil) meaning ‘Who am I?”

"Jnana (knowledge) is given neither from outside nor from another person. It can be realized by each and every one in his own Heart. The jnana, Guru of everyone, is only the Supreme Self that is always revealing its own truth in every Heart through the being-consciousness 'I am, I am.' The granting of true knowledge by him is initiation into jnana. The grace of the Guru is only that Self-awareness that is one's own true nature. It is the inner consciousness by which he is unceasingly revealing his existence. This divine upadesa (instruction from the teacher) is always going on naturally in everyone."

Also from the same booklet, “Who am I?”

'There is no such thing as ‘the world’ independent of thought. There are no thoughts in deep sleep, and there is no world. In waking and dream there are thoughts, and there is also the world. Just as a spider emits the thread of a web from within itself and withdraws it again into itself, in the same way the mind projects the world from within itself and later reabsorbs it into itself…Consequently, when the world appears, the Self is not seen, and when the Self appears or shines, the world will not appear.'

This topic has relevance especially today as more and more philosophical and counseling wisdom appears on the Internet. Almost daily your device offers a new source of anxiety relief in the form of music, podcasts and meditation. They may be good ways to begin a practice but you cannot gain awareness through them. Awareness comes within, from the Atman, the spirit, the divine connection already within yourself.

The location as Ramana Maharshi say, is the heart. Start by quieting yourself by bringing your focus to the size of a pinhead right in your heart center. Can you stay there for 5 seconds? Maybe 20?

Join us for our practical meditation session on the third Sunday afternoon.

Namaste,

sipra

Truth, Goodness (Godness), Beauty (June 2019 Newsletter)
Image: Horsehead Nebula taken by Hubble Space Telescope.

Image: Horsehead Nebula taken by Hubble Space Telescope.

Satyam. Shivam, Sundaram

Truth, Goodness (Godness), Beauty

Life is so simple and joyous! Lying in bed for a delicious moment before we jump out and dash into a rough, tough world, we do picture it as such. We might glimpse a moment of it now and again, but why isn’t it ideal and perfect each day and all the time?

Surely someone will come along and make a comment to me today-whether it is a statement, a direction, a request, a complaint or anything else. In whatever way it might have been meant by the speaker, a lot is frequently lost in the translation depending on where my mind takes me when I hear those words. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, (1.4) it says Vrittaya svarupaya itaritara, meaning that most frequently we are caught up in the individual mind’s interpretations, and it takes us flitting here and there away from the truth. We may decide the statement was negative or implied as a put-down, when it was simply a statement. These are explanations made up by the mind in its current state of thinking and being. Only when the mind/mental stream becomes a solid, sure state without any doubts are we in the soul’s Self (Atma) Only in this state of mind can we see what was really meant, because we are both connecting from/to the same Source, or the Divine. (Self in the Indian philosophy is the One and Only Universal Energy that is absolute, true and infinite. Deriving our energy from this Source, we too are infinite and forever beings.)

The truth is always true and absolute. It cannot and does not change with new input or with better understanding. Truth/Soul/Godness is Universal, Eternal and Infinite. Truth is true under all circumstances, in any place, at any time, and for all beings. If it is always true for everyone and there is just ONE TRUTH, not yours or mine; there is no separate me, no subject separate from an object. It is all ONE!

How then can we connect to the truth?

Be like a child without any preconceptions.

Be aware and awake to the moment. When the mind wonders, it attaches to the senses.

Observe the moment without judgment. If you have a thought it’s probably judgmental.

Be discriminating. Ask yourself if what you are thinking is really what the speaker said.

Wait before responding.

Finally, always come back to a meditative state of mind using mantra, focus, prayer, affirmation, or other meditation.

Namaste,

sipra

Chris Johnson
Why Worry (May 2019 Newsletter)
Ruth Asawa   ,  Untitled,    c. 1967   Image credit:  Xyz1018 , CC BY-SA 4.0

Ruth Asawa, Untitled, c. 1967

Image credit: Xyz1018, CC BY-SA 4.0

As a new month rolls around we are expectantly looking forward to its newness. Especially now as we approach summer we have the promise of plenty - plenty of fun, plenty of fresh produce and plenty of love and friendship. May it be so for you and yours!

Yesterday I did a presentation on Meditation at VEEVA, a new Cloud Software Engineering company, recently expanded into Columbus. This brings the growing interest in meditation to the forefront of my mind.

The truth is that we live our lives on the ‘razor’s edge’. The path we walk on is sharp. It is narrow. It should be straight. A misstep on this precarious journey can topple our balance and break the equanimity.

Meditation classes offered at YWB are not popular. They are not popular since the general perception is that there is no immediate need for it. Life is too busy. Contrary to this belief, it is a skill we need to cultivate early and regularly for that proverbial rainy day.

It should be a daily practice when things are good, when times are bad. Just everyday. Without ceremony or ritual. It is simple and very hard. It is simple in that we need nothing extraneous, just trying to get our body and our spirit in the same place with focus. It is hard because our minds are untrained and out of control, never having been trained in any way. Would you let a child go untrained? Consider the consequences!

The key is daily practice and SILENCE is the medium through which meditation comes alive. (It is not the ambient and heavenly tones playing through the device.) Connect the silence outside with the silence within. Find a physical place which allows for silence. Suddenly everything dissolves into infinite space in which the ego based ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’ fade away.

According to a wise Tibetan monk, (paraphrased)

If you have a problem and you can fix it, why worry?

If you have a problem and can’t fix it, why worry?

Namaste,

sipra

Chris Johnson
Spring into Non-Action (April 2019 Newsletter)
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How hard and painfully we struggle through the winter months, waiting to welcome spring. How hard nature struggles to break through the earth. (Picture shows the force and determination of the young tulip leaves forcing through landscape mulch of various sorts taken just yesterday.) Giving birth is hard work; doing the work on oneself is harder yet. We tell ourselves, ‘I’ll get to it.’ At New Year’s we said the same thing; now it’s springtime and we are still getting to it! Look around you in nature, nothing waits. Yet nothing rushes. The Tao does nothing, but leaves nothing undone. Don’t try to force action. The Chinese term Wu Weiepitomizes this concept. Often our anxieties are caused by endless, meaningless action. Don't waste your life by being scattered by trying to participate in everything . Be systematic, be regular, be persistent. and have direction.

At the same time be soft and pliable like a young twig, which bends in half but doesn’t break. Change and switch your plans and directions as you need to. Nothing remains the same, and so our ‘plans’ need to develop and transform as needed. By doing this I am not letting down myself or anyone else. Things are different today and I must shift my focus just a little bit to keep my ultimate goal sharply in view. It's like focusing the lens of the telescope sharpening the focus but not losing sight of the goal.

When yoga becomes boring and nothing seems to be happening after the initial thrill of anticipation and expectation for the quick transformation of the body/mind into the lithe beautiful body that also transforms into a spiritual, distilled and calm being – that is the turning point. Bide with it. Ride the boredom or the difficulties or the aversion. Refer to Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, 1.14. Stay with it. The magic is right there; the magic is right here; the magic is right now. It is not magnificent. It is! Sa Aham! I am That!

Namaste,

sipra

Chris Johnson
Whole and Healing (March 2019 Newsletter)

Springtime is almost here. There are subtle and different new sounds and smells, and the earth has a certain resilience and sponginess to it that is indicative of unseen life stir-crazy below the surface. While looking forward to the warmer days and the attraction of being outside as much as possible, it would benefit us to keep up our regular practice of yoga and meditation. It makes us more keenly aware of the moment, joyous for the gift of life.

I often suggest that you schedule your classes ahead of time for the week or even for the entire month. And then show up on those dates no matter what. There is personal discipline involved in doing this, and it creates health and wholeness. These are appointments for well-being that shouldn’t be brushed off under any pretext. Make your schedule varied and give all our instructors a try. If you haven’t met them yet, here’s a little bit about why you should.

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Audrey is our latest addition to the YWB staff. Try her Zumba based dance class on Friday evenings at 5:30. This is the only class at this time that is not a yoga based class, but is offered because it is movement, dance and fun – the perfect complement to yoga.

Audrey is a long time student of YWB and has been a regular participant through more than a decade of classes, often making it to class from out of town but attending several classes each week and keeping notes about the experience following each class. She represents the best of YWB, both student and staff – humble, kind, always learning, and adding to her knowledge and skills and always ready to help out when needed.

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Kevin’s class on Friday at lunchtime is aptly called ‘Re-treat Yoga’. Classes are open to all levels of experience focusing on alignment and modifications.

Kevin has been practicing yoga and teaching for about 30 years. Kevin is a person of meditation and prayer and it is yoga’s spiritual dimension he says, that ‘lures me beyond its physical shoreline, inviting me to explore new depths through its movement, and its movement toward meditation.’

At YWB we love Kevin’s kindness and gentleness - quietly and industriously working, cleaning and doing the work that perhaps not everyone would think of as needing attention. A true yogi!

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Kris teaches a class on Monday evenings at 6 pm. Kris has the highest yoga certification that is nationally recognized . Kris teaches moderate level classes focusing on alignment, holding of postures, and strengthening. She suggests that 'more challenging postures and our response to them will be explored,' In the short time Kris has been at YWB, she has helped out in unexpected and varied ways to make our adjustment to our new studio smoother through organizing the space and getting her entire family to help out at all times of day and night despite their own move at home.

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Michael teaches a power yoga class on Saturday, at 12:30 helping you flow through challenging poses. Michael started practicing yoga to combat his crippling backaches and has developed into a faithful practitioner frequently adding to his own training and teaching all around the country and abroad. As an instructor at YWB, he has been always been the first to jump in and help out whenever and wherever it is needed. No matter how awkward the time, place or circumstance he makes himself available and executes perfectly.

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Tatiana teaches Kundalini yoga. Try it out for a totally different experience on Thursday evening at 7:30. Tatiana is busy with her post-graduate degree and work, daily traveling out of town for both. Despite her demanding schedule, YWB has benefited from her generous and willing sharing of her precious free time at several off-site classes, her ideas and her willing assistance with many aspects of the business. We love her gentleness and commitment to Kundalini and YWB.

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Troy teaches a gentle class on Tuesday evening at 6 pm, offering his students a variety of information and handouts on all aspects of life and living. As a cancer survivor, Troy believes in the power of yoga and Ayurveda to heal and save life. Troy and his wife, Eszter, are also teaching a 8-week Ayurveda workshop following the yoga class on Tuesday. They continue to add to their training to hone their knowledge and skills. Despite a full-time day job and many alternative-health classes that he teaches around town and elsewhere, he has willingly volunteered many hours whenever YWB has needed help. When available, Troy is an eager participant at YWB events.

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Veda teaches a slow, deep Yin Yoga class on Wednesday morning at 9:30. Veda has a long history with yoga starting in the 1980’s. The healing process following surgeries after a biking accident, where she was struck by a minivan while riding her bike, was accelerated and completed through yoga. In Veda’s words, ‘Yin yoga taught me to accept myself as I am. It taught me how to be quiet and like it. It taught me patience.’ At YWB, we so appreciate Veda’s responsiveness, joie de vivre, her humor and an active mind bursting with bright ideas.

Come often. Build our community and grow with it.

Namaste,

sipra

The Vibrational Connection (February 2019 Newsletter)
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Pick up any Mind/Body Yoga magazine and you will invariably come across a story about how yoga saved someone’s life, or their sanity. Often this has to do with losing weight, gaining flexibility or curing some physical ailment such as crippling backache. Mostly though, the remarkable stories are those that have to do with almost miraculous recoveries from physical conditions for which there are no known cures, where life expectancy is severely limited, or a life-situation that seems to have no good resolution. These dead-end lives and situations see a subtle or sudden change or shift and the load is lifted through a committed yoga practice. Life becomes better!

This is truly the power of yoga. It is the awareness that the voices in your head, and your speaking heart are true and have some connection with the Energy of the Divine (the clarity of pure consciousness). Even if there are no cures to body, mind or spirit issues, you must fully believe that you are in control of your life and destiny, and that by steadfastly setting a direction and constantly fine-tuning the goal you can change things to the way you want them to be.


How can yoga, which appears to be mostly a physical practice, possibly change the course of one’s life? It can and will through serious commitment to being present in the moment and all that it encompasses. It is your full presence in just this moment in time, not past and not future! Never doubt what you want in your life in the long term, but start with this present moment. When you never shut your mouth, and your ears are open to every earthly and virtual vibration, you cannot be creating those transformative vibes. Sutra 1.23 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali states ‘Ishwara Pranidhana va’ meaning stay focused on the Divine Energy (Ishwara) or (va) stay in that Presence (Pranidhana). In the following Sutra 1.24, it is suggested that this focus is unaffected by the interpretations we put on events/conditions/state of things (kleshas), actions (karmas), or results of those actions that happen when our deep down but inaccurate impressions affect our thinking (klesha karma vipaka ashayaih aparmristah purusha-vishesha ishvara). Sutra 1.25 then completes the thought: In that pure consciousness without shape or form (ishvara) the seed of pure and full potential reaches its peak and is the ultimate connection. (tatra niratishayam sarvajna bijam). The bijam (seed) referred to here is the hum of the universal primal vibration equated with the sound 'OM' in yogic philosophy. Just to clarify, the sound of OM is just the sound of vibration if it could be sounded and be audible. It is the sound of one hand clapping.

The regular practice of physical yoga without doubt and without expectations creates the groundwork and foundation upon which is built this ladder to eternity right here on earth.

Namaste,

sipra

NewsletterChris Johnson
Self Realization (January 2019 Newsletter)
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Each new year we feel the need to better ourselves. (You know, those new year resolutions.) It's a deep spiritual urge to correct and reset our goals and lives so that life flows better, and we can control where our senses are leading us. In Indian philosophy this is considered a lifelong process and is often called Self Realization. The more we are able to bring the errant senses in line with the spirit/soul/divine energy the closer we are to being really happy and at peace with ourselves and the world around us.

We at YWB would like to offer you an ongoing year-long pledge that you can undertake in order to modify your life with moderation but with commitment and discipline, never forcing the end result. It will slowly but surely happen! (Look for the Pledge commitment soon in class.)

These are the transformative steps to Self Realization:

• Observe yourself as though this thinking, acting person were someone else. (Who is this?)

• Accept who this person is. (It is who I am.)

• Understand what makes you think and act in a particular way. (Why do I do this?)

• Discipline yourself to change what doesn't please you. (I can change this.)

• Act on it! Do it right (Here's what I am going to do one step at a time. Stop 'trending'!)

• Transcend your lower, grosser inclinations. (Just like one distracts the needy child and directs its attention and interest elsewhere)

• Make it happen, so that you can go to bed each night content that the thinking and acting self are the same. (Can you say as you go to bed, 'Today has been a good day'?)

• These steps lead to transformation, where the individual needs coincide with the spirit or soul's intent. In Sanskrit one says, SA-AHAM- "I am THAT". SA refers to the Divine Energy of Pure Consciousness. AHAM means "I am".

This slow steady process is not deprivation. This is modification through regular consistent, gentle discipline. One step at a time, everyday, all the time.

Namaste,

sipra

Chris Johnson