Tag: Hinduism

Swami-Gee! Yoga Without Spirituality  #swamiji

I went to a yoga retreat recently. The teacher was known as Swamiji. I thought that this was his name, until I went to another retreat and the teacher—a different man—was also called Swamiji. I asked the pertinent question I should have asked the first time: What does Swamiji mean?

The answer was basic. If the title “-ji” is placed at the end of a person’s name, it is a sign of respect or admiration. It may also be used in a familiar way to show genuine, respectful affection. A common example is to call one’s spiritual guide “Swamiji.” So, many Swamiji’s are present all over the world, helping us understand the Indian, Hindi traditions more affluently in the U.S. and around the world.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 10.04.32 AMAs a yoga instructor for over 25 years and the author of my own yoga video, “Boga Fitness,” you would think I would understand some of the more pertinent tenants of the Hindi and Ayurvedic tradition of yoga. But, for me and most people in the Western world, we would rather know just some of the tradition, not have to chant every time we practice, and only take the part of the culture that fits our own spiritual paradigm. Only now, am I investigating the more intricate facets of the Hindi belief system, more out of curiosity, than a deficit or hole in my own spiritual life.

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I would recommend that you do this with all cultures. Spirituality, not religion, is an intimate walk into another’s culture, not just belief practice. To really understand Swamiji’s all over the world, we would have to walk a mile in their shoes in the caste system of India, which I’m not willing to do anytime soon. I went to ONE almost completely Indian retreat, and if I had to eat one more bowl of raw oats and drink one more bowl of Dal soup, I was going to have painful digestive problems for a week. Some parts of the tradition simply don’t fit my way of life or comfort zone. That is perfectly okay.

Most yogis from India are completely vegetarian. Perhaps, this isn’t a good fit for you in your complicated and fast-paced life. Others sit for hours in the lotus position. For me, my back has sustained an injury since a bus wreck at eight years old. No matter how hard I tried to learn to sit in this position, I was completely challenged—more so than sitting quietly.

Gently, I allowed myself the reality that sitting would have to be more comfortable for me with a back support, or I would never be able to meditate for long periods of time. So, taking the best parts of any religion and adding them to your practice is a great way to allow your spirituality to be an amalgam of great theory and practice from all traditions. I find this part of searching for what truly benefits me as a sentient being to be the best part of my own spiritual life.

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Bhagavad Gita—Your Religious Right!

The Bhagavad Gita, often considered the Hindu bible, is actually a poem composed between the 2nd century BC and the 2nd century AD. It presents as a dialogue between the warrior prince Arjuna and his divine charioteer Krishna. It stresses the importance of doing one’s duty and faith in God.

As a young Christian adult, I was taught to stay away from books such as these, because they were inspired by Satan. As I saw what Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of my favorite writers, says of the Gita, I wondered about the influence of my judgmental past: “It was the first of books. It was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent. The voice of an old intelligence, which in another age and climate had pondered, and thus disposed of the same questions that exercise us.”

Henry David Thoreau wrote a quote of the Gita, as well: In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal… in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.”

So, as I had seen that Thoreau and Emerson thought this a worthy piece of divine literature, I began to immerse myself in some of its pages. Though rife with terms and names unpronounceable to my western lips, I find strings of hopeful messages, especially connected to the ancient yoga practice that has changed my way of life.

Today I read from Chapter 3, Text 1 on Karma-Yoga. Karma-yoga is one of the four paths of realization. It is, in its very basic form, putting your spirit self in action! In other words, finding good works for your soul. Karma-yoga can be something as simple as going behind your entire yoga class and cleaning up the mats and blankets—refolding and straightening in a meticulous manner. It could be getting the mail for an elderly couple next door, or pulling the garbage out to the street for a physically challenged adult.

Yesterday, I talked about listening to your body. What of your soul? Does your soul and mind thirst for knowledge of a new kind? Can you find that knowledge in the source that, perhaps, wounded you as a child? I am letting go of what I was taught by people and priests and teachers. I want to let Spirit guide my soul to divinity, wherever that may take me.

I do recognize, however, that this soul search has sometimes taken me to hell and back, but as Jesus also visited hell before the ascension, I feel in good company. I haven’t as yet said that I am not a Christian, but when compared with the bias and fractious Christian communities around me, I am certainly not that or want to be that. I desire to find a home in perfect peace and God love. Meditation has definitely precluded all of my studies. But in the quietness of divine love, I have been led to study many different scriptures and books of wisdom.

In everything that I read, I throw away that which doesn’t serve me and take to heart that which moves me forward. I would suggest the same for anyone on a spiritual path.

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Bo Sebastian is a Hypnotherapist and Life & Health Coach, available for private sessions to QUIT SMOKING, Lose Weight, New Lap-Band Hypnosis for Weight Loss, CHANGE YOUR MIND, CHANGE YOUR LIFE! at 615-400-2334 or www.bosebastian.com. Please feel free to comment and/or sign up to receive your blog sent to you directly or stream with an RSS Feed.

I am trying to spread the word about my blog and I need your help. Please let your friends know it exists, if it gives you hope and blesses you each day. I would be greatly pleased for you to share anything that you read by clicking the share button in Facebook.com/bo.sebastian, or add it to your Twitter at BoSebastian; or LinkedIN at Bosebastian5@gmail.com; or find this blog home at www.FindingAuthenticYou.com. Any of my books can be found on Amazon or Barnes and Nobel, just by typing my name in the search header.

Also, be looking for “Finding Authentic You, 7 Steps to Effective Change” with a Year to CLEAR (C-larity, L-ove, E-nthusiasm A-nd R-elationship-Ready) in Early 2014. Thanks!

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Ganesha Meets Jesus

This morning at Centennial Park in Nashville, a melting pot of international flavor created fragrance from India to Egypt, filling the park with sounds of tabla and Indian chanting pirouetting through the sound system to meet many welcome ears. I felt as if I was in New York City for a few minutes. The blending of religions and lifestyles felt like a much-needed balm to my heart.

Accepting cultural and religious differences often lead closed minds to open to other lifestyles and beliefs. No person at this function tried to get anyone to convert to a different way of believing. Each simply offered a taste of what the native countries offered. This made the booths and entertainment more palatable and more intriguing than ever.

In Nashville we have one of the most beautiful Hindu temples in the US. When I first drove past, I wondered how such extravagance arrived without me knowing it. I became very intrigued and visited the temple. When I arrived, a gentle woman described the traditions and customs that I should expect while in the temple. She also made it very clear that this was not a museum, but a sacred temple used by people daily for prayer and spiritual growth—that I was to honor that or I would not be welcome. She wasn’t mean, but was clear. I appreciated that.

To tell you the truth, I was a bit surprised at the statues as I walked around the inside. In my mind, I imagined classic representations as the nature of the outside of the building. But instead, the statues were ornate with bold colors, much like the colors of saris lining a rather narrow hallway. No chair or benches were present. Pillows lined the floor in the main area.

The friend who accompanied me understood a great deal about the tradition of the Hindi culture. He shared with me many stories about the origins of the beliefs. Each statue had a name and a purpose. This culture boldly embraces the idea of giving offerings and prayers to idol representations of their spiritual entities, whom they honor and treat as deities. Much of the culture influenced Buddhism, which I didn’t know. I realized quickly that I didn’t necessarily have to believe any of what this religion offered to actually appreciate its intricacies and lovely tradition.

I grew up Catholic, so statues of the Virgin Mary and every saint available lined neighbors’ yards and the small church we gathered at on Sundays. When I drove home last month, I visited St. Philemenas to find the doors closed and the hallways vacant. In fact, two of the three Catholic churches closed in Beaver Falls, leaving only one in the vicinity.

I was surprised to feel sad. I didn’t have fond memories of my small church. In fact, the main priest was very mean, and the nice one ended up in jail for pedophilia. The nuns were so angry that one slammed my sister’s fingers in her desk when she got caught chewing gum. My brother actually had his mouth washed out with soap for swearing—real soap. Yes, that is not just a saying.

Yet, here I stood with a tear my eye and feeling off kilter. Something had passed—and it saddened me. I realized in that moment that what felt like tradition suddenly had disappeared. In my mind it was a metaphor for how authenticity had been replacing representations of almost everything in my life. Instead of statues, I go inside to find God and myself. Instead of going to a priest, I go inside to find my spiritual way.

Today I inhaled a bit of the smoke let off by the incineration of my past, like burning incense on an altar. I smelled familiar fragrances that met me with peaceful blessings.

Go to Home Page: www.BoSebastian.com

* * *

Bo Sebastian is a Hypnotherapist and Life & Health Coach, available for private sessions to QUIT SMOKING, Lose Weight, New Lap-Band Hypnosis for Weight Loss, CHANGE YOUR MIND, CHANGE YOUR LIFE! at 615-400-2334 or www.bosebastian.com. Please feel free to comment and/or sign up to receive your blog sent to you directly or stream with an RSS Feed.

I am trying to spread the word about my blog and I need your help. Please let your friends know it exists, if it gives you hope and blesses you each day. I would be greatly pleased for you to share anything that you read by clicking the share button in Facebook.com/bo.sebastian, or add it to your Twitter at BoSebastian; or LinkedIN at Bosebastian5@gmail.com; or find this blog home at www.FindingAuthenticYou.com. Any of my books can be found on Amazon or Barnes and Nobel, just by typing my name in the search header.

Also, be looking for “Finding Authentic You, 7 Steps to Effective Change” with a Year to CLEAR (C-larity, L-ove, E-nthusiasm A-nd R-elationship-Ready) in Early 2014. Thanks!

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