The Matrix of Four Forms of Meditative Breath

Breath is the basis of all life. Breath is also the basis of all meditation and meditative movement. Breath is the primary manner in which we all obtain life energy. The other three in metaphysical understanding are water, food and prana or chi. The most important concept to understand about breath and meditative movement is that one moves in coordination with the breath. One moves in and out of postures with the breath and one deepens and lengthens postures in coordination with the breath. Inhalations equate to tension whereas exhalations equate to relaxation and release.

There are four important aspects of meditative breath. It is important to breathe slowly, deeply, steadily and consciously. It’s said most people breathe wrong. Most people breathe either from high, mid or low points. A complete yogi breath is a cyclical movement beginning from low point moving like a wave. Meditative movement leads to proper cyclical, complete breath.

Balanced breathing is utilized most frequently. Balanced breathing means the four parts to one breath cycle are equalized. The inhalations and exhalations are the same length of time to each other and the pause full and pause empty are the same length of time to each other too. For example 8 seconds in, 2 second pause, 8 seconds out, 2 second pause is an example of steady balanced breath. Meditation practitioners from long ago would count the breath not in seconds, but heartbeats.

There are innumerable variations of meditative breath, however in most all meditations awareness of the matrix of meditative breath is a primarily important perception. Some more developed meditation practitioners move beyond focus on the breath, however even masters come back to and start with the breath. For the rest of us focus on the matrix of breath can calm the distracted monkey mind that swings from vine to vine, thought to thought. Trouble in meditation equates to, in general having a full mind, perceiving the breath allows one to be alternatively mindful so as to begin and develop meditation.

Balanced breath is beneficial to balancing one’s energy, often all we need. As one masters balanced breath one can implement new patterns to enhance energy movement in four basic patterns beyond balanced breathing similar conceptually to the depiction of the Yin Yang mandala. Unlike balanced breath these forms build and release energy in specific ways. There is the enhancement and lengthening of the pause full, in/pause/out patter for building Yin energy. There is the enhancement of pause empty, in/out/pause for Yang energy. Then a pause is inserted midway between either the inhale or exhale for energy movement, in/pause/in/out for Yin and lastly in/out/pause/out for Yang.

Meditation is mindfulness – the fullness of mind of the present. Whether distracted or focused, whether in still or moving meditation or in daily life, simply being mindful of the breath can connect mind and body. It is especially important to simply realize the four parts to every breath cycle and the four aspects of meditative breath.

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Author: Ethan Indigo Smith / Wake up World

Finding Our Peace: The Art of Loving Our Experience

The usual tendency in our modern secular thinking is to view the outer world as separate from ourselves, but really it is just a partial reflection of what we fundamentally are. Objective reality is one of two pieces. Both pieces make up one whole. The other part is our subjective world, which are our feelings, thoughts and beliefs.

In this ancient and rebirthed understanding, we are realizing we are both the inner and outer worlds.

Now I could go into why quantum physics specifies that these two portions are inseparable, or why ancient wisdom and modern mystics say the same thing, but if we’re on this path we intuitively and possibly even logically know this already.

Instead, here I’m going to focus on what actually makes up our experience, as well as ways to find our peace by loving our experience, because it’s not always easy to accept and embrace all of what we perceive in life.

Some of it is simply hard for our hearts to take and challenging for our minds to fathom. But our experience is much like an intimate relationship: it has its ups and downs, there are things that need to change, there are things that we wouldn’t change for the world and there are hard lessons involved which hopefully inspire us to develop ourselves. And just like we love our partner regardless of their positives and negatives, we should also love our experience, irrespective of its strengths and weaknesses.

Another way to begin to look at it is by considering how we love ourselves. Just as we don’t condone everything about our partner, yet we still love them, we still love ourselves, even if sometimes we’re not proud of all our feelings, thoughts and actions. After all, we make mistakes, learn and navigate our entire lives growing into our new, more developed selves.

But our experience is much bigger than our ego, or our perception and the ingredients of our ‘illusory separate’ selves. It’s also the objects of our experience, because if we change the objects, we also change the experience. Therefore, it is the two realities combined; it’s an intimate interconnection between the inner and outer worlds.

Let’s put it in a simple model:

Subjective world = feelings, thoughts, beliefs, actions

Objective world = body, people, earth, universe.

Experience = the interconnected total of our subjective and objective worlds.

This means that there is something which is the bridge between or the basis of these two seemingly separate realities.

Both pioneer scientists and contemporary spirituality view consciousness (or something like consciousness) as the ground of all being and therefore the bridge of these realms. Though to be clear: it’s not our individual consciousness but the whole of consciousness which is the unifying factor.

One way to illustrate this is through the analogy of a fire. The whole of consciousness is the fire, the objective world including our brain is a flame in the fire and our subjective world is our flame’s heat. All are the fire. All are consciousness.

One common assumption about our individual consciousness is that it is generated by the big brain (containing 100 billion neurons), the second brain (100 million neurons embedded in the walls of our gut) and the heart (which contains 40,000 neurons); much like a generator creates electricity. Even though this is voiced by some materialists as being a proven scientific fact, it’s not – it’s speculation based primarily on the evidence that if we tamper with the brains (particularly the big brain) in certain ways, it tampers with our awareness in particular ways too.

But just as all scientists and laymen alike should know – correlation does not imply causation. Just because our individual consciousness changes when we alter our brain does not mean that the brain created the consciousness in the first place.

The alternative to this explanation, one that is receiving support from emerging scientific evidence, is that the brain receives or tunes into consciousness, much like a radio or television tunes into signals. If we tamper with our radio or TV set, then it will no doubt have an associated impact on the way the signal is received, without actually changing the signal itself. Therefore, just because modifying our brain can alter our experience, does not inherently mean that we have changed consciousness itself. We have simply changed our experience of consciousness.

This makes sense when we acknowledge how our experience is influenced by what’s happening both inside and outside of us. We’re tuning into particular frequencies of consciousness to have an experience which is co-created by both our inner and outer worlds.

When we begin to meditate this point becomes even clearer. Think of our conscious awareness as the light from a torch and the darkness as our subconscious mind. When we meditate, we can navigate through our subconscious mind by making it conscious with our light. Meditation is the act of navigating our awareness through our subconscious mind. The more skilled we become at expanding our mind with meditation, the deeper we go into the darkness of our subconscious. Then suddenly – as many experienced meditators agree – we potentially reach beyond our subconscious mind.

In other words – advanced meditation can craft our individual awareness into a cosmic consciousness or even consciousness itself. This is also a common experience when taking a psychedelic substance. Over and over again, through countless individuals and a wide array of tribal, traditional and current cultures, it is believed that during a psychedelic trip (or other trance-induced activity) the mind becomes one with the whole of reality.

The line between the internal and external worlds has become reverently blurred. This is a big concept to entertain, but once we do, we arrive at an inevitable conclusion. If our experience is a melting between two interconnected worlds, and we love our experience, then we love both worlds. We therefore have a solid foundation to establish and maintain our inner peace.

That isn’t to say that we like everything within it – such as war, murder, emotional dysfunction, suffering etc. – just that we embrace it for what it is. We’re at peace because we understand it as a manifestation of what we fundamentally are: consciousness (or the more traditional term of God). The way we then operate through our lives is based on love, because we view our experience as a reflection of ourselves and we love it as we would love ourselves, and all humanity.

This is when it loving our experience becomes an art because we learn to consciously co-create our experience in a way that is beautiful, inspiring and above all loving. Ultimately, you should love your experience like you love yourself, because it is you. It’s a sure-fire way to be at peace.

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Author: Phil Watt / Wake up world

10 Tips for a Mindful Home

The idea of mindfulness seems to be catching on. That’s good, but if we’re not careful, an idea is where it remains.

Mindfulness is about improving ourselves with special contemplative consideration, a method for making saner choices and assuring better outcomes. To actually transform ourselves with the wisdom of mindfulness, we have to start with the lives we’re living from the moment we wake each day. We have to bring mindfulness out of our heads and into our homes. That’s where ideas become harder to handle.

Here are 10 simple and powerful ideas to bring a day of mindful moments into your home.

Wake with the sun – There is no purer light than what we see when we open our eyes first thing in the morning. Resisting the morning’s first waking moment instantly adds stress to your day. Avoiding the sun, you commence a chase that lasts all day long: running short of time, balance, peace and productivity.

Sit – Mindfulness without meditation is just a word. The search for mindful living is always grounded in a meditation practice. Seated meditation is the easiest and fastest way to clear your mind of anxious, fearful and stressful thoughts. Meditation puts your overactive brain on a diet, so you have more attention to bring to the real life that appears before you. You will be far more productive in the ensuing hours if you begin the day by spending five minutes actively engaged in doing nothing at all.

Make your bed – The state of your bed is the state of your head. Enfold your day in dignity. The five minutes you spend making your bed slows you down from your frantic, morning scrambling and creates a calm retreat to welcome you home at night. Plus, making your bed means you’ve already achieved an even more challenging feat: getting out of it.

Empty the hampers – Do the laundry without resentment or commentary and have an intimate encounter with the very fabric of life. Doing laundry is a supreme act of personal responsibility. It requires maturity, attention and discipline, and it engenders happiness. Don’t believe me? See how you feel every time you reach the bottom of an empty hamper.

Wash your bowl – Rinse away self-importance and clean up your own kitchen mess. If you leave it undone, it will get sticky. An empty sink can be the single most gratifying sight of a long and tiring day.

Set a timer – If you’re distracted by the weight of what’s undone, set a kitchen timer and, like a monk in a monastery, devote yourself wholeheartedly to the task at hand before the bell rings. The time you’ll find hidden in a kitchen timer unleashes more of your attention to the things that matter most.

Rake the leaves – Take yourself outside to rake, weed or sweep. You’ll never finish for good, but you’ll learn the point of pointlessness. The repetitive motion is meditative; the fresh air is enlivening. Lose yourself in doing what needs to be done, without a thought of permanent outcome or gain. You’ll immediately alter your worldview.

Eat when hungry – Align your inexhaustible desires with the one true appetite. Coming clean about our food addictions and aversions is powerful and lasting medicine. Eating is so central to family life and culture that we can pass on our habits for generations to come. Mindless overeating feeds our sickness; mindful eating feeds the body’s intuitive, intelligent wisdom and nourishes life well past tonight’s empty plates.

Let the darkness come – Set a curfew on the Internet and TV and discover the natural balance between daylight and darkness, work and rest. Your taste for the quiet will naturally increase. When you end your day in accord with the earth’s perfect rhythm, you grant the whole world a moment of pure peace.

Sleep when tired – Nothing more to it.

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Source: Healthy Living

Interesting Facts about the last True Kingdom in the World.

Bhutan, a tiny country in South Asia is nestled in the eastern end of the Himalaya mountains bordered by India in the south, east and west and by China in the north. It’s regarded as one of the most isolated nations in the world mainly because the Bhutanese government has regulated foreign influences and tourism to a great extent in order to protect and preserve the nation’s identity, culture and eco-system.

Here are a few facts you may find interesting about this magical Kingdom in the Himalayas:

1. The United Nations recognized Bhutan as a country in 1974.

2. Bhutanese call their home “Druk Yul,” which means “the Land of the Thunder Dragons,” because of the extremely powerful storms which constantly roar in from the Himalayas.

3. Its capital is Thimpu with a population of about 742,737 (2012). It is the only capital in the world without traffic lights. In fact when traffic lights were installed the people objected and the city reverted back to the use of white-gloved traffic police.

4. Until the 1960’s it had no roads, automobiles, telephone, postal system or electricity. Bhutanese had no access to TV or Internet until limited access was permitted in 1999.

5. One of 43 landlocked countries in the world, Bhutan is about half the size of the state of Indiana. Buddhism is the official religion and Dzongka is the official language.

6. The first foreign tourists were allowed into Bhutan in 1974.

7. Bhutan has the world’s highest unclimbed peak, Gangkhar Puensum, a mountain so sacred by the Bhutanese that the government has banned mountaineering on any peak above 19,685 feet.

8. Bhutan is the world’s only carbon sink, that is; it absorbs more CO2 than it gives out. It sells hydro-electrical power, making it the only country whose largest export is renewable energy. 72% of the country is forested. In fact, it’s in the country’s constitution to keep 60% of its land forested. Respect for the environment, the eco system and all species is a serious matter in Bhutan. Anyone caught killing an endangered species, faces the harsh sentence of life in prison.

9. Agriculture is its major industry with rice, fruit and dairy industry. They are aim to be the first 100% organic country.

10. Rather than using the GDP as an economic index, Bhutan measures its overall “health” through the four pillars: sustainable development, environmental protection, cultural preservation, and good governance, which together form the Gross National Happiness or GNH.

11. Plastic bags have been banned in Bhutan since 1999.

12. Bhutan is the only country to outlaw tobacco (effective 2004).

13. The “takin,” a goat-antelope, is Bhutan’s national animal. There are no zoos in Bhutan, that is something unthinkable for them. Anyone found guilty of killing a highly endangered and culturally sacred black-necked crane could be sentenced to life in prison.

14. The country’s two national sports are archery and darts. But unlike a regulation dartboard, theirs is much smaller and the darts heavy and quite lethal which are thrown over 20 meters toward the target.

15. All citizens officially become one year older on New Year’s Day. This way, no one forgets anyone’s birthday.

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Source: Academic Exchange 

Bhutanese Prayer Flags

For centuries, prayer flags have been part of Bhutanese people’s tradition, symbolizing the reality and pervasiveness of their belief.

Generally, in Bhutan, prayer flags are hoisted for happiness, long life, prosperity, luck, merit and to offer karmic merit to all sentient beings. After one dies, the benefits of offering prayer flags is believed to guide the soul of the dead away from the netherworld and to prevent it from being reborn in the three lower realms (Nge Song Sum, animals, pret and life in hell) of the six life cycles: Lha (god), Lha Min (demi God), humans, animals, pret, and life in hell, according to a Buddhist scholar, Dasho Lam Sanga.

Prayer flags are raised outside homes, hung on bridges, hilltops, and places of spiritual importance, for a very special reason, “By doing so, it gives the wind the opportunity to move them and activate the blessings. The wind is considered an expression of mind and mental energy which activates them,” said the scholar. When the shadow of the prayer flag falls on streams and rivers, it is carried to larger water bodies like seas and oceans and benefits the marine fauna.

There are generally three types of printed prayer flags : Lungdhar or Chudhar, Lhadhar and Mani or Baza Guru dhar which are inscribed with auspicious symbols, invocations, prayers, Ngas (mantras), prints of Buddhist protectors and enlightened beings.

Five visual expressions are used in the Lhadhar each with a symbolism. The Flying Horse symbolizes an accomplishment of positive works.  Garuda, Bja Chung, eating snake is meant to frighten-away evil wills and intentions. The Dragon symbolizes the removal of different threats from the sky like the thunderbolts and the spread of the dharma. The Tiger symbolizes success in each step of life without any hurdles, and the Lion, a front-runner in each step of life.

According to scholars, prayer flags benefit in four different ways: through sight (Thondroel), sound (Thoedroel) of the fluttering flags, thought (Dendroel) and touch (Regdroel). They are fastened to wooden poles vertically or sewn on to ropes horizontally (in case of chudhar). Yellow, green, red, white and blue colors are used in Lungdhar, depending on the element (fire, water, wood and earth) one belongs to.

One common belief while passing by the prayer flags is that one should keep the flags to the right. It is believed that prayer flags embody the Ku, Sung and Thu, (speech, body and mind) of the saints and circumambulating a prayer flag earns merit in the same way like when we circumambulate a Choeten, lhakhang or a dzong. When the prayer flag print fades, it should be properly disposed or burned. Tearing down the printed cloth or contaminating it is a sin.

Prayer flags are a common sight everywhere in Bhutan today symbolizing the ever flourishing Buddhism and ever growing faith of the people.

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Source: Ugen Penjore, Kuensel Issue 2003.

Hi! We are Choki

Choki is a Local Denver non-profit organization founded with the mission of protecting the cultures and traditions of the most sacred places left in the world. Choki wants to accomplish a world of “I believe”, with the purpose of sharing the traditional arts from the world’s poorest communities, by revealing to the developed world the beauty that these secluded cultures have to offer. 

The Kingdom of Bhutan is the last true Kingdom left in the world. Bhutan is a small country located between China and India, counting on a small population of only 741,822 people. Also known as the “Land of the Thunder Dragon”, “Kingdom in the Clouds” and “The last Shangri-la”, Bhutan’s landscape is only rivaled by the beauty of its people. Bhutan’s culture differentiates from the rest of the world because it is the only one that does not measure its success by a percentage of economic growth, but rather by their commitment of keeping all citizens happy via its measurement of “Gross National Happiness” and inner development. Bhutan is a country where life is respected and honored, as well as it is a place of mystery and wonder where Monks are placed in high standing positions in government, giving strong moral and spiritual support to its people. 

Choki supports the only private institution in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan that offers training on traditional arts and crafts. In addition, the school serves as an orphanage providing free tuition, food and lodging to the most disfavored youths of the region. The limited resources make it difficult for students to continue their training. As a consequence, some of them cannot pursue their education and therefore strive to follow their dreams by going to work in local factories for low wages. 

Choki seeks to find economic sustainability for the school and its students. Beyond this purpose, the traditional arts will be valued and preserved by future generations. Pride in Bhutanese children artists is unequal to any other; heart and mind work together to create art that is beautiful beyond measure. Choki wants to create the invaluable opportunity of maintaining Bhutanese traditions alive, and to protect future generations of artisans while preserving hundreds of years of extraordinary culture. 

Choki believes that art serves as communication for the improvement of society, social relationships and consciousness, and that it contributes to a greater understanding of human experience. Our goal is to subsidize traditional artists from distressed backgrounds so they can do what they love, and to help raise awareness of their communities and cultures internationally through their creations. 

From cosmic mandalas of incredible measurement, to detailed wood carvings with local symbolism, and raw silk scarves made by hand by extraordinary women. These pieces are offered to the public with all proceeds returned to the artist’s communities for sustainable development projects. 

Art is the most beautiful invention of mankind; it is the universal language of life and a reflection of self for the artist. We believe in the creative powers of the people, as much as we believe that they must be supported. 

Choki Team.

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