churning the ocean:
& yogic shadow work
Prāṇāyama means “breath-control”. Breath-control means breath control. It does not mean “take big, deep breaths all the time” or “oxygenate your brain/body as much as you can”. The beginning of prāṇāyāma is simply taking control of your breathing: deep, slow, smooth, and silent. This basic process of breath-control is capable of addressing many physiological and psychological issues associated with the restoration of functional breathing, including (but not limited to) various types of sleep and breathing disorders, anxiety, depression and panic disorders, etc. These physiological and psychological benefits are, however, the consequences (not the purpose) of training in classical prāṇāyama. Historically, the practice of prāṇāyama has been a central feature of, and across, yoga traditions. It is one of the central components of classical yoga.
Many classical texts saw basic breath-control practices as purifying the habits inscribed in the breath and body. These old habits/memories function as old maps that restrict our engagement in/with life. Alternatively, we could say that these old maps restrict the expression of life itself. Breathwork helps to weaken the force of these old maps, allowing for this (full) expression to reveal itself in and through you, in whichever way it chooses. Transformation isn’t optional; who/what you become, however, is not up to you.
Breath-control practices help to establish a powerful foundation for developing a personal meditation practice. This allows for deeper levels of stillness and an ability to sit with more difficult thoughts and emotions. In classical yoga, breathwork and meditation were practiced for the purpose of achieving freedom, not for the purpose of solving the ego’s problems. To attempt to fix/change the ‘self’ was to reinforce the very thing from which these practices are attempting to free you.
Balrāj also encourages a short writing practice to facilitate confronting our more difficult (often repressed/suppressed) thoughts/emotions. This is not a(nother) journaling practice, but is rather a simple and powerful process that allows you to make direct contact—and stay—with some of your deeper thoughts and emotions instead of immediately and instinctively running from them in a way that likely reinforces destructive habits. These repressed/suppressed thoughts and emotions affect your life in ways that you aren’t aware, and this writing process—which is something like churning the ocean with the pen—facilitates a kind of “release” that divests the pattern of its power to affect your actions. This practice might is more closely related to what is often called “shadow work”. Churning the Ocean is something like yogic “shadow work”. And it is particularly effective when guided by an astrological psycho-spiritual birth chart reading.
The “result” of these practices has been characterized in myriad ways, each of which offers its own insight into the nature of freedom—i.e., what freedom is and/or what it feels like. Though Balrāj doesn’t privilege one description over another (instead choosing to allow the situation itself to dictate which description is most appropriate), some general/introductory comments are worthwhile:
The self/personality and all of its habits/memories/traumas—i.e., the very things that lead you to “grip” the world (and your ‘self’) in a particular way—is both the very thing that allows you to function as a person in society and also the very thing that imprisons you. Meditation practices are intended to weaken this ossified self, a ‘self’ that was formed (much like a rock) by powerful pre-personal forces (social, cultural, historical, genetic, epigenetic, etc.).
What emerges is not be a ‘finished’ product. What emerges is not a ‘self’ that possesses the absolute/ultimate security that the ego wants, but rather more freedom from the rigid ways of perceiving/acting, and thus a deeper and more fulfilling engagement in/with life itself. Urges, compulsions and anxieties all become less burdensome. There is less of a feeling of being dragged to a future you’d rather not have. A still(er), more spacious mind becomes home to more clarity.
During your private, online training with Balrāj, emphasis will be placed on practice, not on theory. You will receive private training and guidance in establishing and developing your own daily practice. Because all training is customized to suit you, any level of experience is appropriate. We encourage you to contact us about your situation; together, we can explore the possibility of combining prāṇāyama, meditation, and psychological-spiritual or “psycho-spiritual” astrology in a way that provides you with more freedom from the limitation(s) that you may be experiencing. Because multiple sessions are more effective, packages of multiple sessions are heavily discounted.
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effective January 2020
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