Gudrun Leduc

Gudrun >Leduc

This is my good friend, Gudrun Leduc. Gudrun was born in Germany and after some extensive traveling, she settled in Montreal, Canada.

Around ten years ago, Gudrun called one of my companies, and I invited her and her husband to visit me in Panama. We have been friends ever since, and I have come to know what a remarkable person she is. Gudrun is an inspiration to many people. Some know her as the dedicated Tai Chi and Chi Gong master. Others have studied yoga and pilates with her. Still others have received expert shiatsu massage treatments from her. And many a student and friend of Gudrun has had the pleasure of sampling Gudrun’s exquisite meals.

It was in China that Gudrun received her training in Tai Chi and Chi Gong. She studied Yang style and Sun style tai chi, as well as tai chi weapons, including the use of single-edged and double-edged broadswords. She studied these arts at the University of Physical Education in Beijing under Master Wu and Grand Master Yung Ming Zhong. She then took her knowledge back to Canada, and opened the 5 Elements School, to share these arts with her own students, many of whom continued practicing with her for twenty years, until Gudrun’s move to Panama.

Gudrun now operates a healing retreat center in Cerro Punta, Panama. She is planning to offer Tai Chi, Chi Gong and Yoga Retreats at The Lotus Garden, in Limon, Panama.

Gudrun is married to Greg Leduc, a talented musician and the two have two lovely daughters and a beautiful grandson. Below, Gudrun is pictured with her daughter, Katherine, who has taken over the management of the 5 Elements School in Montreal.

Yoguinis Gudrun y Katherine - Yoga Libre Gudrun and Katherine Leduc

Yoga Nidra, The Yoga of Dreams

Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra is the Yoga of Dreams, the practice of working with one’s dreams to advance one’s conscious evolution and earthly mission. Yoga Nidra is one of the lesser-known but most powerful forms of yoga. Very few yoga schools teach yoga nidra, either because it is not profitable to do so (the practice is normally done free of charge at the student’s home) or because the yoga teacher has little or no experience with this practice.

Dreaming is the Key to Good Sleep

Sleep is said to replenish and conserve energy and to protect us from nightly harm. But we can learn to conserve and replenish our energy during the day, and we can certainly stay clear of harm, by eliminating the bad habits that lead to disease. But we would still need to sleep. Why? The need for sleep is all about the dream.

If you get a reasonable amount of sleep, and yet still feel tired, you may be able to solve this problem by learning to work with your dreams (yoga nidra). And if you do not get enough sleep, then it is very likely that you are missing out on the invaluable benefits of dreaming.

Yet studies, articles and books on sleeping frequently understate or ignore the importance of dreaming. Most studies relating to sleep will focus on measurable data like the number of hours or minutes one is alseep, or the release of certain hormones such as melatonin, cortisol, human growth hormone (HGH) and serotonin. No study that I am aware of has properly considered the importance of dreaming. Perhaps for good reason: the value of the dream is immeasurable!

The Divine Trinity in You

In religious terms, the Divine Trinity is a triple-entity, three beings in one. The key concepts are oneness and synergy. The same must be true for the body, mind and soul. Not only do they form a single “triple” entity, but the sum is indeed greater than the parts. If these “three parts” fail to recognize each other and work together, then your life will lack peace, harmony and a deep sense of success.

Dreaming and Spiritual Freedom

Dreaming and mining one’s dreams for consciousness is  useful in accomplishing one’s earthly mission. Working with dreams is also called Yoga Nidra. While you dream, your spirit is free to gain consciousness. In contrast, while you are awake, it may be that your spirit normally yields to a demanding brain and a body that chases after its every whim.

Freedom of spirit is indispensable to maintain sanity. And dreaming is among the surest ways to free the soul. The deep desire of the spirit is the reason that you are here. Therefore it pays to put forth some effort in deepening your understanding of your mission, and much effort towards accomplishing the said mission.

How to get the most from your Dreams

To get the most from your dreams, it is necessary to develop the correct perspective on the value of your dreams. If you hold that your dreams are just random images with little meaning, then you will unfortunately miss out on one of the most valuable tools for evolving your consciousness. If, on the other hand, you hold a deep respect for the immense potential value that your dreams offer you in the way of completing your earthly mission, then you have the right attitude to proceed with yoga nidra.
One should reserve 15-30 minutes of meditation time before and after sleeping. Before retiring, the night-time meditation prepares your body, mind and spirit for the change that is about to take place. The body and the mind will be giving up their control for the time being. The soul will be taking a “voyage” without the limitations imposed by the physical world. The time spent meditating immediately prior to launching this voyage will create alpha brain waves, which get the dream off to a healthy start and usually result in more serene, revealing dreams as compared to the chaotic dreams that often follow “normal” activities like watching TV or listening to the radio.

What Happens While You Dream?

When you lay your body down to sleep, your mind goes with it. In fact, your body and mind go everywhere together. These two are married. That is to say that they are connected ‘until death’. But this marriage is not complete without the soul. In fact, this ‘third member’ should be considered the most important part of the marriage. Unfortunately, the soul is often considered a ‘third wheel’ in the ultra-exclusive relationship between body and mind. The soul is ignored during all waking hours. To keep the Universe in balance, the body and mind necessarily must lay down together so that the soul can ‘fly solo’ for a while. During this solo flight, the soul is unrestrained by the normal limitations of the body. There is no logistical problem in getting from place to place, and there is no lineal time. This means that in a 5-minute nap, your soul can have the experience of having traveled to another continent (and maybe even another planet!). To get a similar experience that includes the body would require first buying a ticket, driving to the airport (or rocket launch site), hours of waiting, hours of flying… time and money and the coordinated effort of many people! But despite the great cost of the voyage, the benefit is usually greater than the cost. Claiming such an experience in a 5-minute siesta sounds to me like the epitome of efficiency!

The Healthiest Sleep-Wake Cycle

Yoga Nidra  Postcard
Yoga Nidra Postcard

The healthiest relationship between your dream state and your waking state is that one is a continuation of the other. Imagine a dolphin swimming near the surface of the ocean towards the sunrise… the dolphin may jump in and out of the water but the overall direction is fairly consistent. Compare this against a circular system where the dolphin jumps out of the water towards the sunrise then switches directions upon re-entering the water. This dolphin exerts the same energy but does not advance. Such is also the case for humans that spend their days not following their dreams.

Thank you, and Good-bye to Doctor David John Carmos

Doctor David Carmos

Today we say good-bye to a remarkable man, a talented healer and a wise teacher. Doctor David John Carmos had devoted a great part of his life to studying and teaching the healing ways of Jesus and the Essenes, an ancient mystical Jewish sect that is most famous for having written The Dead Sea Scrolls.

According to historians, the Essenes may have lived about three times longer than their contemporaries, owing to their clean, vegetarian, disciplined and loving lifestyle. The Essenes were known to adopt abandoned children and care for them greatly. Doctor David became a Bishop of the Essene order.

While returning from a mission in Brazil, he was wrongly imprisoned in Mexico. While serving his ten-year sentence, David performed more than 18,000 treatments… word had traveled throughout Mexico and people in need of healing would line up outside the penitentiary. In his spare time, David penned 12 of his 15 books.

I recently had the good fortune to meet one of David’s students and closest friends, Dr. Shawn C. Miller, who is himself remarkable, disciplined and wise. I am especially thankful to Dr. Miller for gifting me with the book The Essene Master: Gospel of Healing, which was the first book published following David’s release from prison. The book, masterfully written in meter and rhyme, is divided in nine parts.

The following is an excerpt from part one of The Essene Master:

The Spirit of God is seen in the Path of every way,
in the falling of the rain, in the sprouting of a seed,
in the snowflake, in the wave,
and in the breaking of the day.

The Spirit in its various forms
is felt in the light of the full moon,
in the glow of the evening stars,
in the fog of the clouds,
in the cool warm of the sunset,
and in the dampness that makes the dew wet,
in the color of a flower,
in the wave crest’s awesome power,

in the ability of wild oats themselves to sew,
in the magic of a mustard seed, within itself to grow,
within a flock of sheep,
the knowledge of a ewe its young to know,

in the softness of a springtime breeze,
in the society of a hive of bees,
in the intricacy of a spider’s web,
in the recession of a tide at the new moons ebb,
in the river rapids constant flow,
in the presence that makes a toothless baby’s smile glow,
in the thunder and lightning of the first storm of spring,
and in the voice of the nightingale when it sings.

I am grateful to David for his wise words and the beautiful example that was his life on Earth. I will leave you with the following excerpt from part four of The Essene Master, as it is especially appropriate in saying goodbye to a beloved friend:

Life is our opportunity to experience and
to grow according to a certain plan
and when we have exhausted this earthly shell,
then we complete another life’s span.

Then enters death, which in reality
is no enemy of man,
but another opportunity
to in other ways grow and expand.

Death is but the knife which cuts the cord
that anchors the human ship to Earth,
that it might sail the oceans of the spirit world,
until it finds a new port, to experience another birth.

When a soul and body go their separate ways,
which is a time of growth and rest,
then the spirit enters on another phase;
somewhat like leaving an old cow loose in a field,
to stand in the warmth of the sun and graze.

The calls of death are always for the best,
for we are solving further dilemmas there,
as well as continuing on our spiritual quest.

Doctor William Bates

Dr William Bates
Dr William Bates

 

Dr. William Horatio Bates was an ophthalmologist who developed a natural method for better eyesight. The Bates Method is essentially Yoga for the eyes. Bates was adamant that using lenses to correct vision problems would inevitably lead to a worsening of the problem. Instead he prescribed a series of gentle stretches and other soft excercises, coupled with appropriate rest. Doing these excercises would conveniently correct a host of eye conditions from myopia (or nearsightedness) to diplopia (double-vision). Although you can no longer consult directly with Dr. Bates (unfortunately, he left us on July 10, 1931) you can speak with your friends and with your doctors about Dr. Bates’ startling discovery.

More Yoga Asanas

Open Heart

Get ready to overdose on asanas!

By popular demand, this page contains hundreds of yoga poses. Katherine, Laura, Gina, Clarice and Heather are seasoned professionals performing some advanced moves, so please be prudent and find a qualified instructor before attempting to duplicate the tougher poses that you see here. The other ladies are not models but rather ambitious students that hope to inspire others to find their way to wellness through yoga. The asanas will in fact help your physical, mental and emotional health. If your energy becomes blocked, there is a specific asana to remove the blockage.

YOU are beautiful.

The human body is beautiful indeed. But the human spirit is even more beautiful.  It just so happens that the spirit doesn’t photograph as easily as the body does. Yoga asanas are highly artistic. Sometimes a particular yoga asana may accentuate the natural beauty of the human body. Please feel free to enjoy the artistic expression of these instructors or students, without placing too much importance on their physical shape. It is unnecessary to have a perfect figure for one to be perfectly-happy and wonderfully-well.


Katherine’s Yoga Asanas

Laura Kay’s Yoga Asanas

Sandra’s Yoga Asanas

Gina’s Yoga Asanas

Claudia’s Yoga Asanas

Michael’s Yoga Asanas

Partner yoga asanas

Dr. Dean Ornish: Healing Through Diet

Dr. Dean Ornish

In this video, Dean Ornish discusses a number of big issues. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity are huge killers that are entirely preventable through diet and lifestyle.

Loneliness and depression are also large-scale problems that make people much more likely to smoke, drink, overeat, overwork, get sick and die early. The simple treatment is anything that promotes intimacy: friendship, altruism, compassion and service are just some examples.

A study by David Spiegle of Stanford was published in The Lancet. The randomized study examined the survival rates of breast cancer patients. Those that formed a support group, meeting just one hour per week had twice the survival rate after five years.

Ornish credits his yoga teacher with isolating the key difference between illness and wellness:

illness vs. wellness. i vs we.

The Benefits of Yoga and How to Achieve Them

Yoga Steps to Enlightenment

A summary of yoga’s physical, mental and spiritual benefits, and a primer on the many lifestyle options that help you to achieve those benefits and, preferably, to share the benefits with others.

The Benefits of Yoga

Recognizing Yoga (oneness) offers physical, mental and spiritual benefits.

Among the physical benefits are, a stronger, more toned and more balanced body that is free of pain. In addition, yoga prevents and cures* innumerable diseases including stomach acid, cancer, heart problems, anaemia, appendicitis, arthritis, asthma, backache, high or low blood pressure, loss of memory, breathlessness, bronchitis, broncho-pneumonia, cold, cough, colic, colitis, constipation, coronary thrombosis, diabetes, diarrhea, dilation of heart, dysentery, dyspepsia, epilepsy, fatigue, flatulence, gastritis, gout, halitosis, insomnia, menstrual disorders, migraines, nervous debility, obesity, polio, paralysis, piles, pleurisy and pneumonia, rheumatic pains, sciatica, sterility, thrombosis of the legs, tonsilitis, tuberculosis, tumour of the stomach, gastric and duodenal ulcers and varicose veins. (Source: items listed in bold are from my own experience. Other conditions are listed in the book “Light on Yoga” by B.K.S. Iyengar. * A disease can be cured when its root cause is correctly identified and eliminated. Simply joining a yoga class is unlikely to give you this result. It is wise that you do search for the real cause of your imbalance/illness rather than simply masking symptoms. Welcome to discuss this with your doctor, too.) As for the mental benefits, yoga eliminates stress and leaves you relaxed so that you can live and sleep in peace. The final goal of yoga is the most profound benefit, that of recognizing our total union with God and all of creation. This union is already a given… but recognizing it fully will bring supreme lasting joy.

Yogis, instructors and masters

A yogi is someone that is searching to know himself more deeply, such that he is able to recognize the unity of body, mind, spirit and universe. An instructor is one that helps another in the search for this discovery of truth. Every yoga instructor is also a yogi or a seeker until the moment he attains the final goal, the moment that he becomes a yoga master. A yoga master is one that has attained the goal of total awareness of oneness with God and with the entire creation. A master then guides others towards the  goal using old methods or new ones specially adapted to eliminate the specific blockages in the path of the individual. Although realized yoga masters are few and difficult to find, each one of us has a yoga master deep within ourselves.

The many paths of yoga (ways of becoming more aware of oneness)

The interrelation of the many paths of yoga
The interrelation of the many paths of yoga

Any method or system is called yoga when it helps a yogi to develop consciousness, such that he can better know his true essence, where his body, mind and spirit dance freely, and work together synergistically.

There are many known yoga systems for getting closer to the final goal. But it is always possible for someone to reach the final goal with or without a proven (old) system. The dedicated work in one’s self-invented system should be considered a “new yoga” from the moment of the achievement. The following fields and disciplines are some of the known (old) yoga systems:

Karma Yoga

Karma is the law of action/reaction. It is impossible to avoid karma because every action generates at least one reaction. Good actions lead to favourable reactions. Giving and receiving are inseparable. The yogi that gives unselfishly generates good karma. If you believe that your current situation is unfavourable, you may wish to analize the specific steps you took to get into that situation. Thinking about “past lives” is usually nothing more than a cop-out, which incorrectly blames the distant past thereby allowing the person to elude his or her direct responsibility for recent actions. It is foolish to speak of “having bad karma” without doing anything about it. More intelligent would be to trace your current position back just a few steps to determine the precise reason that you are now experiencing discomfort. This will surely help you avoid repeating those steps and hence the discomfort.

Bakti Yoga

Bakti means devotion (to God, to the Lord, or to one’s guru). Religious persons (of any religious belief) frequently practice bakti yoga, although they may not call it by this name. Devotion to a job, a boss, a partner or a child could (on rare occasions) be considered bakti yoga but only when the yogi fully recognizes the divine in the object of devotion.

Jnana Yoga

Jnana Yoga is yoga of the intellect, great for lawyers, judges, scientists, linguists and anyone that enjoys digging deeper into life, to examine its essence, and to find the appropriate words to explain that essence. In particular, one must differentiate between that which is real/eternal, and that which is merely a temporary manifestation. That which we observe through the five notorious senses falls into the second category.

Hatha Yoga

Ha-tha means “sun-moon”. Here, sun and moon are referred to, metaphorically, as polar opposites. (Of course, the moon is not really the opposite of the sun, but we get the image of a day-night continuum so the metaphor is somewhat useful.) Hatha Yoga is one of the newest of the proven (old) yoga systems. Its earliest document is from the 11th century, a yogi called Gorakh, who sometimes lived like a king and sometimes like an ascetic, two “opposite” ends of a social continuum. Today, most people use the term “Hatha Yoga” to refer to a system of bodily postures and breathing techniques to heal and balance the body, such that the (indivisible) bodymind becomes a “better” vehicle for the soul. Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (died in 1989), Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar are the prominent authors of this “modern” style of Hatha Yoga.

Chakrasana
Chakrasana

The asanas or postures at once stretch and strengthen all of the muscles and tissues while purifying them of toxins.

Hatha Yoga can be gentle or intense to adapt to the level of each individual. The practice implies the observation of both extremes of the duality of tension and relaxation. That is to say, that the yogi achieves the desired relaxation through the excercises that stretch and tense the muscules. The breathing exercises help the yogi to control her or his energy level since the air is charged with prana or pure energy that we can store for later use.

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga is an eightfold path that includes the disciplines of hatha yoga (asana and pranayama), and six more disciplines: yama, niyama, pratyahara, darana, dhyana and samadhi.

  1. Yama means control or observation. When used by itself, it refers to observing the universe, in general. One can observe areas of “peace” and “non-peace” for example. We humans do love to categorize! We observe that peace is “better” than non-peace. This is a judgement. Despite the bad stigma that people often attach to this word, there is no reason to eliminate judgements altogether.
  2. Niyama is “control or observation towards oneself“. It refers to personal discipline, including hygiene and purifying the body and the mind by eliminating physical toxins and emotional toxins like hatred and pride, passion, anger, greed and delusion. The yogi observes that these emotions are useless and hurtful and replaces them with a greater dedication to that which brings wellbeing and happiness.
  3. Asanas are as mentioned in the section above, hatha yoga.
  4. Pranayamas are also as mentioned above.
  5. Pratyahara is the state that is achieved when one is no longer a slave to his or her five nototious senses, namely, touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. These normally dominate us through their frequent requests and complaints. The pleasure that we receive through these five senses is temporary and therefore these senses represent traps in the path towards perpetual joy. (The sixth sense, intuition, does not require disconnecting.) The yogi finds within himself a joy to which he or she always has access, including when the five senses would otherwise signal a lacking.
  6. Darana concentration. This can be used as a “platform”, from which one can more easily “climb” to a state of meditation.
  7. Dhyana – meditation. Meditation more closely resembles “observation” than “relaxation” although there are many meditacion groups that focus on the latter.
  8. Samadhisuperconsciousness achieved through profound meditation.

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini Yoga is a system to awaken and to raise the energy up along the spinal column. The practitioner feels a strong and unique sensation each time the energy bursts through another chakra (imagine an orgasm in the heart!). The chakras are energy wheels, similar to the roundabouts that connect several high-traffic city streets. The energy spins around instead of stopping and starting, as at a traffic light.

Tantra Yoga

Tantra is the highest form of cultivating the energy within for its healing effects on the self and others. In Kundalini Yoga, the healing energy is awakened and circulated. In Tantra Yoga, the healing energy is multiplied and transformed into all other energies. Tantra is often marketed as a sexual practice. This is an aberration to say the least. While learning Tantra Yoga will undeniably help your love life in countless ways, you’ll find even more benefits in all other areas of your life. And, although yoga is essentially about “uniting”, there are many Tantra practices that can be practiced even without a partner.

Where to practice yoga, and with whom?

You can practice yoga (oneness) on your own at any time, without the need of an instructor. Oneness is your essence, and the essence of the entire universe. Therefore you needn’t go anywhere to find an example of oneness. If you want to practice physical postures, there are yoga schools on almost every street corner in many parts of the world (USA and Canada, for example), and in other countries where yoga schools are not so ubiquitous, there are still several options. These schools will likely focus almost entirely on physical posture and breath. To enjoy the class, fully, understand where most teachers and students are coming from… it is decidedly unwise to challenge them on any concepts mentioned during the scheduled class. Despite a general view that yogis tend to be “open-minded”, the reverse is often the case when a learned yogi is challenged on his acquired knowledge. If you are inclined to challenge someone, please challenge someone that will not be offended by this. Like me, for example. If you have a partner or a group, you can share the experience and benefits of yoga, by practicing partner yoga. Posing together is not only an artistic thing to do, it also provides additional support and challenges in a way that increases the benefits for all involved.

Yoga para parejas
Partner Yoga

Martial Arts and Yoga

Martial Arts and Yoga

Martial Arts and Yoga are two popular systems that go beyond physical exercise to encompass mental and physical exercises, cultivating balance and generating consciousness. Both systems are based on the timeless principle of observing and controlling the flow of energy. A true master of martial arts and/or yoga is a master of living. Sadly, many modern schools go overboard on the specific techniques and foreign jargon, such that students feel they cannot become masters. This is the exact opposite of what should be done.

Grand Master Albert Mady
Grand Master Albert Mady

If you spend some time observing a master like Albert Mady, it will change your life for the better. Albert is a true master of his own style of mixed martial arts including Isshinryu Karate, Muay Thai and tameshiwari, wherein he converts himself to dynamite and explodes through and pulverizes concrete like it were a vanilla wafer.  Mady’s full contact, bare-knuckle kickboxing class is a mix of women and men and there are classes for kids. Mady is equally committed to his world-champion students and the regular people wanting to learn life-saving self-defense techniques. And the lives he has saved are many.  Despite his innumerable honors and achievements, he remains down-to-earth, extremely generous, and a loyal friend to many. In my book that makes him a yoga master too. He has trained many bodies, and many minds to follow the invincible spirit at the heart of every student.

Yoga

Yoga is oneness. It is the reality inside you and in the entire universe at the same time. It is not necessary to “do something” to unite the universe. All that appears to be separated, is in fact connected, and always has been connected. The last stage of human evolution is to recognize this truth…when you discover oneness in your own heart, then you will automatically act in accordance with this consciousness. Yoga is the key to real, lasting freedom… from needless pain, from useless worries, from pointless repetition.

Yoga is Oneness

The Benefits of Yoga

Recognizing Yoga (oneness) offers physical, mental and spiritual benefits. Among the physical benefits are, a stronger, more toned and more balanced body that is free of pain. I have frequently applied yoga techniques to address the root cause (thereby initiating the reversal of symptoms) of the following conditions: stomach acid, cancer, heart problems, anemia, arthritis, asthma, backache, cold, cough, constipation, diabetesinsomniamigraines, obesity and other conditions. As for the mental benefits, yoga eliminates stress and leaves you relaxed so that you can live and sleep in peace. Yoga’s spiritual benefit refers to the individual’s finding of her or his “earthly mission” such that the body and mind can work harmoniously to fulfill the deepest desires of the spirit, those of love and unity and lasting joy.

Yoga
Yoga

Simply joining a yoga class is unlikely to give you this result. But yoga’s benefits are well within your reach! Commit yourself to searching internally, and you will surely find within yourself that which limits  your holistic advancement. Others, such as your doctor, or perhaps a yoga instructor or a healer, may help you remove the impediment, and it is certainly possible to remove it on your own, without assistance. But this phrase “without assistance” should not be taken too literally. For if you always select “I” over “we“, then you’ll select illness over wellness.

Learn Yoga Now

Click here to learn more about the many benefits of yoga, and a variety of methods to help you achieve those benefits. As well, you’ll learn that yoga is not really about physical exercise as much as it is a lifestyle of love and vitality and inner tranquility.

Sleep and Dream

Baby Dream

Sleep is important for several reasons, the majority of which are well-covered by medical experts. Dreaming is the most important benefit of sleep, yet it is largely forgotten by the medical community.

The Lotus Lifestyle includes adequate sleep and that sufficient importance be given to one’s dreams.

The Importance of Dreaming

Dreaming and mining one’s dreams for consciousness is  useful in accomplishing one’s earthly mission. Working with dreams is also called Yoga Nidra. While you dream, your spirit is freed from the control-freak brain and obedient body, which chases after the every whim of the brain while ignoring the desires of the spirit. The deep desire of the spirit is the reason that you are here.

The Importance of Sleep

A good night’s sleep is often credited with a host of physical and mental health benefits.   Among these benefits are restoration, energy conservation and avoiding the dangers of the night.

Bodily Restoration / Re-energizing

Studies suggest that sleep replenishes our energy and helps us to restore our health.  But energy replenishment and health restoration also occur while you are awake. I suggest that proper breathing (while insisting on pure air) is the best way to recharge your body, and one should learn how to avoid wasting energy, such that the surplus can accumulate.

Every time you inhale, the lungs take in some vitally-charged oxygen, and other gases including toxic carbon monoxide gas. The purest air that’s highest in oxygen, as well as deep, belly-breathing will optimally recharge your energy level, and full exhalations will maximize the expulsion of toxins from the cells and through the lungs.

If one largely breathes “on autopilot” during the day, their daytime detox and recharge will be mediocre or poor. Sleeping would give slightly better results and conscious re-energizing breathing techniques would create the best results.

Energy Conservation

While you are sleeping, energy usage is minimized. According to Harvard Medical School, the metabolism may slow down as much as ten percent. Although this is statistically significant, ten percent less energy usage does not seem important enough to be the prime motivator of sleep.  But even a modest savings of energy, when coupled with the slow re-charging effect of breathing while sleeping,will produce a positive net energetic effect.

It is certainly possible to minimize energy waste while awake. Fasting saves the energy that would be invested in digestion, but most people are not willing to forgo the pleasure of eating… this luxury has been taken for granted by most cultures for many years. Other ways to conserve energy are by observing your posture, your thoughts and other habits. Taoist and tantric masters know the value of retaining vital fluids including semen and blood.

Avoiding the Dangers of the Night

Our ancestors may have needed to avoid being eaten by lions, whereas in modern times man is his own hunter. Police and hospital statistics indicate that most accidents and violent crimes happen at night, which may give early sleepers a better shot at surviving in an increasingly dangerous world.

In practical terms, most people have certain bad habits that, were they to continue uninterrupted by sleep, their health would be in serious jeopardy. For example, the habitual smoker or drinker, if sleepless, would likely continue intoxicating himself all through the day and night. Sleep thus functions as a kind of insurance policy that protects us from perpetually repeating our bad habits.

Dreaming is the Key to Good Sleep

If we could all learn to breathe better during the day, to observe our posture and its effect on our energy, and to eliminate all bad habits that cause disease, then we could strike those three reasons from the list of reasons why we need sleep. But we would still need to sleep. Why? Because dreaming is the key to good sleep

If you get a reasonable amount of sleep, and yet still feel tired, you may be able to solve this problem by learning to work with your dreams (yoga nidra). And if you do not get enough sleep, then it is very likely that you are missing out on the invaluable benefits of dreaming.

Yet studies, articles and books on sleeping frequently understate or ignore the importance of dreaming. Most studies relating to sleep will focus on measurable data like the number of hours or minutes one is alseep, or the release of certain hormones such as melatonin, cortisol, human growth hormone (HGH) and serotonin. No study that I am aware of has properly considered the importance of dreaming. And it is for an obvious reason: the value of the dream is immeasurable!

Sleep (or Dreaming) is Necessary to Maintain Sanity

One study nearly identified the value of dreams. A group of people volunteered to ‘sleep’ in a special sleep laboratory. Then, as each one dozed off, the scientists would promptly wake them back up to ensure that they could not properly get into the dream state. Within two weeks, all of the subjects went insane. The scientists concluded that sleeping and dreaming are both necessary to maintain sanity.

The problem with the study is that the generous volunteers that lived as laboratory animals for two weeks were at once deprived of their sleep, their dreams, and in effect all of their freedom.

Freedom is indispensable to maintain sanity. And dreaming is among the surest ways to free the soul.

Sleep inspires insight.

The above is the title of a 2004 german study that would be more aptly named ‘dreaming inspires insight’.

Baby dreaming of angels
Baby dreaming

So What Happens While You Dream?

When you lay your body down to sleep, your mind goes with it. In fact, your body and mind go everywhere together. These two are married. That is to say that they are connected ‘until death’. But this marriage is not complete without the soul. In fact, this ‘third member’ should be considered the most important part of the marriage. Unfortunately, the soul is often considered a ‘third wheel’ in the ultra-exclusive relationship between body and mind. The soul is ignored during all waking hours. To keep the Universe in balance, the body and mind necessarily must lay down together so that the soul can ‘fly solo’ for a while. During this solo flight, the soul is unrestrained by the normal limitations of the body. There is no logistical problem in getting from place to place, and there is no lineal time. This means that in a 5-minute nap, your soul can have the experience of having traveled to another continent (and maybe even another planet!). To get a similar experience that includes the body would require first buying a ticket, driving to the airport (or rocket launch site), hours of waiting, hours of flying… time and money and the coordinated effort of many people! But despite the great cost of the voyage, the benefit is usually greater than the cost. Claiming such an experience in a 5-minute siesta sounds to me like the epitome of efficiency!

Yoga NidraL Dolphins Swimming and Jumping towards the Sunrise
Yoga Nidra

The healthiest relationship between your dream state and your waking state is that one is a continuation of the other. Imagine a dolphin swimming near the surface of the ocean towards the sunrise… the dolphin may jump in and out of the water but the overall direction is fairly consistent. Compare this against a circular system where the dolphin jumps out of the water towards the sunrise then switches directions upon re-entering the water. This dolphin exerts the same energy but does not advance. Such is also the case for humans that spend their days not following their dreams.

References

  1. Harvard Medical School essay “Why do we sleep?
  2. Harvard Medical School essay “Sleep, Learning and Memory

Meditate and Pray

Meditation and Prayer on the same page sounds like a recipe for heated debate. Those that believe in meditation often think that praying is just religious dogma. These folks haven’t found the essence of meditation. Those that pray, er, religiously may think that meditation is just some new-age nonsense. But they too, have misunderstood one important concept. When meditation and prayer are both thoroughly understood, they are nearly identical. Don’t agree? Then which of the two are you missing out on?

Meditation is really about observation, not relaxation. It is the most important part of the yoga tradition, and it is practiced by people from all religions. Even people that have never heard or spoken the word “meditation” have practiced this art. By opening your mind to the truth, you evolve your consciousness. And as your consciousness evolves, you see things clearer than before, little things and big things. You catapult your understanding of yourself and of the universe.

Do you really want to know the truth about yourself and the universe?

That is the only question that you must ask yourself before you can take your meditation to the next level.

IF THE ANSWER IS NO, then you might as well move on to a different page, because no printed or spoken word will help you to evolve your consciousness if you are happy to go on collecting tidbits of data, chunks of knowledge ad infinitum.

IF THE ANSWER IS YES, then you must be ready to challenge your own beliefs. You must question whether your eyes and ears are capable of showing you reality. They are able to show you but a tiny part of reality.

You do not need to join a class to learn to meditate. From my experience, most meditation classes offer a relaxing atmosphere, positive affirmations and a whole lot of unecessary gimmicks like incense and soft music. There things are all fine, but they are not required for meditation.

You may enjoy and truly benefit from regularly meeting with a particular group of compassionate people. But I believe that you should not wait for the meditation clock to begin. You should start now, and never stop. Firmly ressolve to make meditation your lifestyle. Always be open to the truth, and you will automatically let go of the falsehoods that previously seemed true from a narrower vantage point.

Meditation Myths: Don’t be Fooled by the Fluff

The soft music that is often sold as “meditation music” is great for relaxation, but will not help you meditate. Reality includes many sounds. There is no “magic” music that will increase your consciousness. Simply observe with an open mind, and you will gain more consciousness. Perhaps you will become more sensitive to annoying high-pitch sounds of countless appliances around you. Shut these off and move on with life.

Incense has become ubiquitous in meditation circles. It seems these groups are unaware that breathing in smoke is unhealthy. Vaporized (steamed) essential oils are a much better option for aromatherapy, but they are not essential for meditation.

If you do opt for taking meditation lessons, find a mentor that will phase himself out within three sessions. You learned to drive from an instructor, but quickly dismissed him when his usefulness expired. Merge your practice with your life. Observe everything more profoundly, always. Don’t expect your co-pilot to do it for you.

Famous postures are overrated. Never allow the most trivial aspects of life to keep you from expanding your consciousness. Some yoga instructors can’t see the forest for the trees.You can wave your butt in the air like a dog anytime you want, but that won’t be an exercise in loyalty.  Dressing up like a king or a beggar won’t give you the consciousness of these men either. Learn to be loyal, benevolent and free, and you’re more of a yoga master than most yoga instructors.  You needn’t curl your legs into the “Lotus Position” to meditate. If you are flexible enough, that position will let you sit for a long time. But if you learn to observe and expand your consciousness in any position, you will soon master The Lotus Lifestyle.

If you lie down, you may fall asleep, but that’s ok too. Your consciousness can expand even faster if you integrate your sleeping time and waking time through meditation. The practice known as “Yoga Nidra” (literally, the yoga of dreams). When your spirit returns from its voyage through dreamland, honour your spirit’s voyage by observing it profoundly upon awakening. In this way you can leverage the power of your dreams to cultivate your consciousness.

The Union of Meditation and Prayer

Growing up as a catholic boy, a few of the sermons were a bit confusing. We are told to live a life of prayer. But we are also taught that in prayer, we should ask God for anything that we need. But can you imagine spending all day, every day, constantly asking God for more and more. Surely that is not what is meant by “a life of prayer”.

For that phrase to make any sense, I first had to find a better way to pray. In my opinion, the best prayer is one where I say nothing, because The Almighty does not need for me to speak. My life is my speech to the the Almighty. If you do wish to speak to God directly, I humbly suggest these three words or less: “God, I’m listening” followed by silence. These three words will open your mind to hear God’s voice in your own heart. You are opening your mind to the truth. And if you spoke those three words sincerely, then you will find the truth.

But beware of the Almighty B.S. detector… if instead of truly listening for the heavenly guidance, you are secretly thinking about that neverending laundry list of your wishes, other humans won’t know the difference, but the Divine Consciousness cannot be fooled.

So, you see, whether you believe in meditation or prayer, you are right. Learning to meditate correctly means to be willing to observe the truth at all times. And learning to pray correctly means the exact same thing.

“Be still, and know that I am God”  -Psalm 46