Franz Kafka (1883-1924)franz kafka (1883-1924)

"You do not need to leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Do not even listen, simply wait.
Be quiet, still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked.
It has no choice.
It will roll in ecstasy at your feet." ■

[ source ]

I liked this quote long before I knew how cool it really was. Something about it spoke to me .. almost daring me.

This is a big yoga quote .. and that's where I heard it. But I was into yoga for quite a while .. before I "saw into" the reason why the yoga people use this quote.

And when it dawned on me .. what they were saying [.. I liked this quote without ever understanding why the yoga people embraced it, quoted it ] .. I was surprised ..

.. because it was a surprisingly insightful insight (.. if ya know what I mean).

And I remember being surprised .. that anyone else could access such deep [ almost mystical? ] insights. Yes, sometimes my ego surprises even me. =)

Compare Kafka's quote with this one by Pascal (1623-1662), a man who had a programming language named after him. The core of each quote is identical [ ie » quiet, still, solitary ].

Sunset YogaAnd playing off the Pascal quote, notice that the inability to sit still quietly (or quietly sit still) .. is not a new problem. Not a new phenomenon.

[ How 'deep' can a person be .. who cannot even let himself still, and quiet his mind for twenty minutes ?

How much self-control can such a person possess? How much discipline?

Notice how the end of the final paragraph of this article on California's Sacred Retreats says »

"A place to do what is hardest, which is nothing at all. It’s the kind of experience you’d pay anything for. You might say, in the end, that it’s priceless." ]

As a sidebar, I have done a little research [ of the » first-hand experience variety ] .. into the subject of » yoga / meditation / Buddhism .. and especially » the Buddha [ the "Enlightened One" ].

Naturally, I can't help but notice similar patterns with Christianity, and I found far more than I ever expected. [ Perhaps I will outline these similarities in a future entry, when I am better prepared to discuss in detail ]

But generally speaking .. yoga (the physical / stretching part) is really about the spirit, the inner-you (or God, if you like, who is IN you). In other words, yoga is really about (improving) » the meditation part.

It's a mindful thing .. where you practice the simplicity of observing thoughts as they enter and leave your consciousness .. observing without judgment. Without reacting. Simply observing. A great practice, especially for those with a critical bent.

Yoga in the HimalayasMeditation .. or the 'act' of sitting-still and being-quiet .. is more challenging than it might otherwise seem.

If you fancy it a trifle, give it a try. "What? It's only been two minutes? No way! Can't be. Feels like I've been sitting here for twenty minutes."

This reminds me about my friend-come-landlady Maria, when I told her about » Two Bunch Palms. More than anybody I knew, Maria NEEDED a get-a-way to "Two Bunch" »

Maria: "What do you DO there?"
Me: "Nothing. That's the point."
Maria (with a look of terror on her face): "Uh, that doesnt sound good to me. I gotta run. Stuff to do, ya know. See ya tomorrow."

Maria was always on the run, sun-up to sundown and well into the night. But she had a knack for being there for her friends .. whenever they really needed her.

Notice in this travel article, which takes you to the "world's best destination spa," set in the foothills of the Himalayas .. where Amanda writes » "But I'm the least likely person to come here, which is why I need it, according to my friend Susan Burks."

Down-Dog, a Yoga PoseYoga is a technique / discipline for "pushing back" (my own words) the limitations of the flesh.

So, with the right intention, yoga (as defined as stretching as a form of physical discipine or exercise) and mediation can be a spiritual thing .. more than just an exercise thing.

Yoga itself focuses on the breath, which is associated with spirit and God. The ancient Greek word for 'breath' is » pneuma .. from which we derive our word » pneumatic.

Pneumatic tools are AIR tools. Breath is air that we take into our lungs, which keeps us alive. So it should not surprise anybody that the word for breath and the word for spirit .. are the same word.

Yoga is about » the breath and the breath is about » the body. Now, the breath-thing might seem insignificant .. especially to the rational engineer in me .. but it's not.

If you conclude (like I did) that yoga is about the body .. you're missing the whole point. Because yoga is about "sync'ing" (for lack of a better word) the spirit with the mind and body.

It took me a long time to 'get' this. That little loop-de-doo there (with the breath) is the very thing that makes yoga different from weight-lifting and even running (.. where you suck much air).

This realization of the importance of the breath should not seem farfetched .. since it is the primary indicator of life. [ "Can he fog a mirror?" ] Your breath is the #1 thing that separates you from all those folks residing at the cemetery.

Lean, flexible, athletic poseLong as you can keep breathing, you can stay in your body. But when you can no longer breathe, you must leave (.. or be hooked up to a machine that breathes for you). So the breath seems important.

This is why waterboarding can seem to terrifying (.. to those being waterboarded) .. because it artificially simulates what happens when your body can no longer breathe (air).

Well, it doesnt do this articficially. No. It actually (really) removes your ability to beathe air. Try it sometimes and you'll see what I mean.

Notice that this verse from Proverbs seems to suggest that God enlightens us and guides us thru our spirits.

Notice also that the word used there rendered and translated » 'spirit' is actually the word 'breath' in the original language.

Whereas weight-lifting gives you a feeling strength .. like you can eat nails and drink gunpowder soup, and running gives you a wonderful sense of well-being (perhaps from endorphins) ..

.. yoga gives you a sense of » composure .. to a degree that you cannot get with either weighs or distance-running.

I am not saying that I completely understand it .. but I know what I experience. And for me, meditation is something of a practice about BEING PRESENT (conscious of the now).

Notice how you cannot be conscious tomorrow. And you cannot be conscious yesterday. No, you can only be conscious in the present-now.

This is very similar to how faith works. You can only believe right-here, right-now. So for me, meditation seems to work and strengthen some of the same inner spiritual muscles that faith uses.

And, as always, you are free to chose whatever concept of God you like. Many times the Bible instructs men (such as Joshua in the Old Testament, and Timothy in the New) to meditate.

I have a pocket daily devotional .. that I use in conjunction with my yoga sessions. Yoga a word that means JOIN or UNITE or LINK WITH. That thing-with-which we join or unite is » God. So, for me, yoga is very much about » fellowship.

If you have the Spirit of God Himself residing on the inside of you, then connecting to, and listening to, this Inner Diety should be a good thing. No?

Jesus said, "When you pray, go into you closet, close the door, and pray in secret." Notice the parallels with meditation » quiet, alone, still. Which makes it easier to hear God.

If the word yoga bothers you or offends you, you can simply substitute the word » stretching. Most everybody agrees that stretching is good for you.

Ancient Yoga Pose Carved in Stone ReliefNo, you don't "empty yourself" while meditating, rather you allow the chatter in your mind to quiet down ..

.. so your can better hear God and the voice of your own spirit (conscience).

I think that .. the place where most 'Christians' get concerned .. is that, with yoga, you feel SO GOOD .. that you can see how it could-possibly become like a religion.

[ Update - here is an article that addresses the question directly, quite nicely. Expertly, even » Is yoga a religion? (San Diego Reader) ]

I find this farfetched, but a valid concern nenetheless. For those so inclined, to relate to this concern, I would suggest that they stretch mindful of the verse which tells the Christian to "glorify God in your body."

Scriptures says that the christian is to "exercise self-control in all things" .. or they risk being "disqualified". So, who would you reckon more 'qualified' ?? .. the out-of-shape person who calls himself a 'christian' ..

.. or the obviously-fit person who stretches their body is a series of poses that resemble a discipline some call » yoga? Think about it.

Interesting that most yoga classes begin with the salutation » Namasté, a greeting which acknowledges a divine spark within humans.

Note that you will also find this quote on page 46 (hard cover) of Sophy's book » For Writer's Only .. in the chapter titled » "Waiting, Spinning, Drifting". I feel grateful to Sophy for writing this book.

No Going Back» No Going Back

The more yoga I do, the less it seems to be about the body (fitness) ..

.. and the more it seems to be about » the focus of attention (consciousness) in conjunction with the breath.

Which is more difficult than you might think.

Check out these enlightening sentences from this excellent article (LATimes):

"Yoga has a 2,500-year history that sprung up in India as a series of mental and physical practices to help escape the cycle of suffering that flesh is heir to."


"Yoga is a range of practices that focus on controlling the body and breath as a means of stilling the mind. These practices were developed around 500-200 BC by various wandering ascetics."

I'll leave you with an interesting parallel. Notice how what Peter says » here .. parallels what Siddhartha said » here.

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