Bhavana

Bhavana mindfulness

In different religions, there are different concepts of how to be closer to the divine power or look into yourself to find your soul and comfort your heart. In Buddhism, the concept of Bhavana is very common. If literally translated, it means development or producing. The aim of Bhavana is to clear your mind and induce calmness inside the body, which reflects in your words, thoughts and actions.

Understanding Bhavana

Most of the times, Bhavana is not used alone but in conjunction with another concept. There is citta-Bhawana which refers to the development of mind. This concept deals with the cultivation of thoughts, positive attitude and ideas in your mind. On the other hand, metta-bhavana is the development of kindness. This concept deals with cultivating love and kindness in your heart. Different parts of your body are doing different things and they can all be developed in the right way to produce positivity and goodness. Panna-bhavana refers to the development of wisdom, which is very important throughout your whole life. Samadhi-bhavana is the development of concentration. You will not be able to excel at anything or understand anything until you develop a certain level of concentration. Kaya-bhavana is the development of the body, which is inevitable and very important. There are different compounds made by different Theravada teachers. Bhavana is the name of spiritual cultivation, whether it is of the heart, mind or the body.

Etymology of Bhavana

Bhavana comes from Bhava which means ‘becoming’. To understand it better, you can think of it as the arousal of the state of mind. According to Glen Wallis, a farmer does Bhavana when he prepares his field for planting seeds. He says that Buddha chose this specific word because of its connection with the earth. While other words like meditation are devoid of a connection, Bhavana is connected to the Earth. It is ordinary and natural, yet serene and earthly in its own way. Bhavana also represents hope. It cultivates a sense of hope in people that no matter how damaged a field is, it is not barren. This means that no matter how damaged your heart or mind is, there is still hope that it can be cultivated and developed. As a result, the end of the season will see a nourishing harvest. One might think of Bhavana as meditation but it is much more than that. It brings attention to detail and makes meditation a calming activity rather than a mechanical one. Claude Marechal explains it perfectly in the article ‘Teachings’.

From the article ‘Teachings’ by CLAUDE MARECHAL.

I thought this was an eloquent way to describe Bhavana.

“Bhavana is a mental attitude, the intention that allows the student to maintain his/her attention during the execution of postures and of pranayama. This psychological orientation stops the practice from becoming mechanical, it amplifies its effects and improves self-knowledge.

Bhavana aims to make the mind very clear, very calm, to improve physical and mental health and to induce a state of meditation or of prayer.”

 

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A beautiful take on Mindfulness

Mindfulness

Mindfulness


I love coming across beautiful and simple ways to describe…well…just about anything. I found this in Donna Farhi’s awesome book “The Breathing Book” and wanted to share.

I think it’s really important NOT to repress or ignore those emotions and thoughts we aren’t proud of. It is vital to get to know them intimately as only then will our relationship to them truly change. We are whole…a whole lotta things and if we don’t get intimate with ALL aspects of ourselves, how do we expect to change/find peace/be better people? 

 

Cultivating Mindfulness.

“To mind the breath is to make a decision. It may be the most radical decision you have ever made in your life. The second you choose to mind your breath you have decided that this present moment, this very moment, is worthy of your full attention. The instant you do this you have begun to extricate yourself from the hold of the past and the pull of the future. You are living your life as today rather than yesterday or tomorrow.
This awareness we are attempting to cultivate, by necessity, must be choiceless. It means that we stop deflecting, correcting, and manipulating, our perception to suit out conceptual ideas about how we think we should be ad how we think other people should be. It also means we open ourselves to the way our life is rather than how we imagine it should be. Of course this is not the predilection of human beings. We;re sure life should be a certain way and when it inevitable doesn’t turn out as we had carefully planned we feel righteous anger or justifiable disappointment. Choicelessness is an extremely important principle to understand because mindfulness is not about reaching an idealized state of mind. The ultimate goal of mindfulness practice is not to attain a fairy-tale composure of sweetness where negative thoughts cease to exist. If you were to sit for just five minutes and watch the parade of jumbled and negative thoughts that dance on the screen of your mind (judgement, anger, and jealously being likely contenders), you would realize…that such a goal is rather unrealistic. Neither should choicelessness be confused with blind or passive acquiescence to unacceptable or unhealthy situations or behaviors. It does mean that we see things as they are instead of embracing or dismissing our perceptions, holding onto things we like, or rejecting the things we dislike.
The other reason I emphasize the importance of entering mindfulness practcie which choiceless awareness is that the very moement you stive for an ideal ego state which you call “good” you have simultaneously rejected another part of yourself which you call “bad”. This rejected part of you doesn’t just disappear; if unattended it may exist autonomously, unconsciously driving your behavior so that you make the same mistakes over and over gain. It is thus best to place the shadow squarely before you where you can attend to it while doing your mindfulness practice rather than attempting to outrun it as it lurks behind you. You need not attempt to stop your thoughts; you need only to change your relationship to your thoughts, feelings and sensations. In the very act of looking clearly and unflinchingly at your feelings, however unsavory they may seem to you, you can begin to understand their root. If you relinquish embracing or dismissing, you allow life to do what it has always done–to change.”

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Bhastrika

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Bhastrika

One of my favorite pranayams to help wake up the senses, focus the mind and anyone can do it.

It’s a cross between deep Ujayi breathing and cat cow.

As you inhale deeply, lift your sternum. As you exhale, knit the front ribs towards the back body and engage Mula Bandha (lift the pelvic floor). You inhale and exhale evenly and very deeply. Find a rhythm and stay with it. I’ve been taught to do it in 3 rounds, first one for 9, second for 7, third for 5. After your last exhale in each round, retain the breath on the exhale and engage Maha Bandha (All 3 bandhas-mula, uddiyana and jalandhara) for as long as it feels comfortable in your own body.

If you are on the first three days of your moon/pregnant, do Bhastrika slower. Do not retain kumbacha for too long with pregnancy without engaging the bandhas). If on your moon,  you can retain but do not engage uddiyana bandha as it draws the energy up and you’re flow is trying to move downwards.

What are Bandhas?

I found this to be a great explanation….

 

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