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The Nine Nights Of The Goddess – Navarātri

Yoga and tantra provide maps and paths through the maze of complex existence. They aim to transform the body-mind from raw, mundane states of existence to refined, exalted states of experience and realization.

Within many yogic and tantric traditions, certain seasons, months, and times of the day are given special importance.

They are ‘auspicious’ times when cosmic energies are heightened and, as such, support psycho-spiritual practice. These auspicious moments in time assist us in achieving positive results. For example, dawn and dusk are said to be ideal times for yoga and meditation.

The festival of Navarātri or Nine Nights (‘nav’ is nine and ‘rātri’ is nights) is one of the great ceremonies in the lives of Hindus in India. The exact time of this celebration varies according to the lunar calendar. It begins on a dark moon in the Indian autumn (in the month of Ashwin, usually in October) and ends ten days after. In 2020 Navaratri starts on the 17th of October (depending on which part of the world and time zone you live in).

This period of The Nine Nights is devoted to invoking The Great Mother Goddess, The Divine Creative Power, or Shakti, the creator and supporter of the universe. She is most closely identified with Durga, an exquisitely beautiful goddess who rides a lion, and who wields in her many hands’ awesome weapons, including the ‘shul’ (pike), ‘chakra’ (wheel), ‘parashu’ (ax), and ‘talvar’ (sword).

Durga is said to be the manifestation of the power of all the goddesses that, long ago, faced a terrible and irresistible demon called Mahishasura.

Mahishāsura is a mythic representation of the human ego in its demonic form

Many yogis do not see Navaratri as a religious process, but rather as a psycho-spiritual one, and a unique opportunity for yogic practice. 

They adopt certain practices and rituals to understand their psychological shadow and to confront their egos.

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Why Mindfulness Is Not Enough

Mindfulness Is Not Enough
Many people come to us for therapy believing they cannot meditate. 

They have tried a few simple mindfulness and breath awareness techniques; however, they tell us they couldn’t meditate because they couldn’t stop thinking. They either feel bored looking at their thoughts, which they had hoped would stop, or they become nervous because they could not stop the anxious feelings, emotions, and memories that accompany these thoughts. 

It is a common misconception that you have to stop thinking to meditate. Rather the opposite is true. When you start off in meditation, the mind will be full of thoughts. This is a sign of success. The attainment of the thoughtless state, the state of Inner Silence, comes later on down the path.

The tragedy is, that because of this initial experience with pure mindfulness techniques, many people close the door on meditation and say that it is not for them. The real problem is that they have experienced only one technique, have not had access to theory, and are unaware that there are many other techniques that can give them a peaceful experience of meditation, even if they are thinking.

Mindfulness is one of the most popular forms of meditation. However, mindfulness, which is really the simple act of paying attention to the present moment and not being lost in thinking and rumination, is only a small part of meditation. It has gained popularity because it has been integrated into mental health programs where it is part of a larger approach to mental health. Mindfulness is not a standalone technique. It supports the clinical psychologists’ treatment of mental illness. 

For most people, and especially in a clinical setting, mindfulness needs to be combined with other techniques that enable you to reduce negative feelings attached to thoughts. You need to combine mindfulness with techniques that enable you to cultivate positive feelings so that you develop a positive sense of self-control. 

Much more is possible if you understand the theory behind meditation. This includes learning about the structure of the mind, and how to apply meditation to the thinking, feeling, and knowing aspects of the mind. 

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Build Vitality (Prāna) and Immunity (Agni) to Protect Yourself from Coronavirus

Immunity Against Corona Virus

How we are using yoga, meditation, and western medicine to build immunity and protect ourselves from the coronavirus.

We are publishing three articles on how to maintain health and have the best chance of preventing illness during the pandemic of Covid-19.

The first article (this article) will discuss the two best yoga meditations to build healthy, resilient immunity that can give you a better chance in the fight against a virus.

The second article details how to build the four pillars of health from both Eastern and Western perspectives.

The third article recommends Eastern herbs and Western supplements that Jayne and I are using to support our health and immunity and which I recommend to my students and clients.

Yogic theory tells us that the key to staving off viruses is to make your life force (vitality, prāna) stronger than the life force of the virus, otherwise your immunity (agni) can’t cope and the virus wins.

If you can follow the advice in the articles, you will increase your immunity and resilience.

Introduction

We live in interesting times!!!! Global warming, mass migration and epidemics crashing through the borders of nation-states, and financial disruption. All this distress can weaken your immune system, making you prone to illnesses, such as the coronavirus. These are all boundary issues.

People dream about getting into their yogic practice and improving their diet and sleep. Prior to the virus spreading, this may have seemed a luxury that you can take up when “you have time”. However, today a healthy lifestyle that conserves energy and builds vitality-prāna is crucial to developing strong boundaries that either prevent the virus from entering or if the virus does get in enables you to combat it.

If you haven’t been building your prāna, now is the time to start. Within a few weeks of practicing energy building meditations along with some lifestyle modifications (suggested in the second article), you will feel more relaxed and more robust.

If you are suffering from chronic illness your life force (prāna) and your agni (digestive fire, immunity) are both not working properly.

Build prāna and agni

The key to gain the best advantage, and to prevent a virus from taking hold or from becoming a severe illness, is to build your life force–prāna and your immunity–agni.

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