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Get Connected

A week or so ago my husband and I were traveling around southern Vietnam and we had decided to take local transport rather than a tour bus. I woke up several hours early and began running the foreseen schedule of events over and over in my head. A travel blog I had read gave a brief explanation of what was about to go down but I certainly started to fill in the gaps as I saw fit. We had been in Vietnam for over 2 weeks so I included all the foreseen mishaps and confusion that would take place between now and arriving at our destination into my elaborate itinerary for the day. We were currently on a small island in the Mekong Delta with no cars so the first step would be to ride on the back of a motorbike to get to the ferry, the motorbike will for certain get stuck in the rain and the ferry may not even run at all today due to the storms, and if we were to resort to swimming across through the Mekong . . . well that is just not an option. If we do ever make it off this island today at all, we have no idea where to find the local bus as of course it is not marked on google maps. If, miraculously, we do find the bus it will most likely be so full that we won't fit inside and forget about bringing our packs inside which means that our packs will get strapped to the roof and for sure it will start to downpour at which point hopefully we won't be on the roof as well. Even if we make it off this island, find the bus, get on the bus and fit inside, I'm seeing a slim chance of this at this point, then the bus will quite possibly not be going to the destination we were hoping. As I continue this stream of made up events in my head I start my yoga practice, bliss for the next hour and a half. My husband begins to wake up at some point and stumble around the room, he is a bit slower to wake up and for sure is not worried about anything other than breakfast. After he has leisurely eaten and started the long process of opening his eyes I have already packed us both up, checked out, and parked myself and our gear at the front door of the homestay, and begun negotiating a departure time for the motorbike, which I have now been informed will take us one by one to the ferry as there is only one motorbike. The rain begins, first just a few drops, but only moments later is a full torrential downpour. Anthony cracks open a beer and parks himself in a hammock as I try to keep the steam from coming out of my ears. An hour later the rain has not slowed at all and the island we are on is basically being swallowed by the Mekong. The motorbike driver suggests heading for the ferry as the rain may not let up at all today, so I strap on my gear wade through the floods, hop on the motorbike and wave to Anthony still chillin' in the hammock. We both make it on the ferry which was still running every 10 minutes. Phew! On the other side of the river we ask around about the local bus to Can Tho, finally receiving the info that the last bus is leaving soon and it's just up the street, turn left at the traffic light. The endless list of possibilities and "what ifs" flares up again in my mind as I'm wading through the flood and dodging raindrops only to discover there is no traffic light and no bus station. A few local interactions via Google Translate brings me deeper down the path of doubt and worry and we have picked up a tail of a motorbike driver offering to take us to our destination 3 hours away on his 1 motorbike in the rain. "Thanks but no thanks my friend." We find the bus station, a dirt lot tucked behind an old dilapidated building with a few old industrial style vans parked randomly in the mud, well this could not have been more obviously the bus station :/ We board the van and I collapse into a seat soaked and exhausted from sprinting through my imagination. We pay the driver including the "tourist tax" of an extra person charge for our gear. The bus doesn't seem to be in any hurry so Anthony leisurely strolls to the nearest food cart and orders a sandwich as I cling to the side of my seat hoping the bus won't dispatch without us. The local bus ride is fascinating as we weave through the Mekong Delta stopping or at least slowing down a touch to let locals on and off. Several hours later we arrive somewhat in the vicinity of where we were headed we grab a cab and arrive at our hotel, it's still raining.

Many of us spend our time and energy mentally worrying about things that may or may not ever come to be reality. Other select few, like my husband, can go blissfully through the day letting whatever happens happen. For the rest of us science is beginning to show us that there is a disconnect between our hearts and our minds that is causing us to perpetually ride the worry train. Have you ever thought meditation just doesn't work for you, that there is just no way to quiet your mind? This is because the mind is afraid of cognitive darkness. If the mind were to "stop thinking" it fears it would cease to exist. Yoga teaches us that putting the endless worry or "monkey brain" on the back burner and focusing on the energy of the body and soul, meditating, can bring us closer to ourselves and a state of happiness. Science is beginning to question the connection between the heart and the mind and how it affects the health of the entire being, mind/body/soul. They are beginning reevaluate the heart as the center of a person and the mind or intellect as secondary, that energetic connection from the heart has the ability to heal.

According to Dr. Paul Pearsall in his book The Heart's Code, by nature of its primary vigilance role in the brain/body alliance, the brain is the ultimate “type A, " as in Type A behavior pattern which is associated with heart disease. The brain is always in a hurry preparing its body to go somewhere and it is uncomfortable with "just being" anywhere. It may resent being slowed down by what it sees as annoying interference and demands from our brain/body systems. The heart however, seems to think in a more "type B," gentle, relaxed, connective way and is in search of connecting it's subtle energy with other hearts as a means of establishing relationships and intimacy.

Psychologist Mihlay Csikszentimihalyi asserts that the brain has an evolutionary bias towards pessimism and that unhappy, pessimistic, vigilant negativism helped our ancestors maintain and environmentally adaptive "ready to defend" posture in order to survive in a hostile environment. He writes that the pessimist, by dwelling on unpleasant possibilities, is better prepared for the unexpected.

Paul Pearsall's research is asking questions such as, "Is it possible that the heart has its own form of intelligence, that because of our evolved dependence on our brain for interpretation of our experiences, we are seldom aware of it?" He and his colleagues are beginning to establish a means of measuring the subtle energies of the heart and the effects this energy has on the body as well as others and the environment.

Yoga is a ancient form of exploration in the energy and healing properties of the heart. Meditation and self exploration being cornerstones of yoga practice have generated countless examples in the lives of yogis that the connection to the heart by bypassing the mind's demanding strings of thought generates bliss, happiness, and physical health and wellbeing.

The advice I received from Balinese Kundalini Master, Ketut Arsana, was this: Awakening the kundalini energy of the body and the heart is a self exploration process. It cannot be taught by anyone other than the self . . . now go practice.


Anahata Chakra Kundalini Yoga teachings for the heart chakra: The VISHNU GRANTHI, the source of Ānanda, bliss, is located in the Anāhata Chakra. The purer the Anāhata Chakra, the deeper the feelings of joy, warmth and happiness, and unity with God is experienced even more intensively. When the Vishnu Granthi within the heart opens, the desire to help other living beings arises spontaneously. With the help of the Anāhata Chakra we are able to understand and resolve problems with others more easily. The Anāhata Chakra is the door through which we are able to reach the Sahasrāra Chakra, where knowledge of our true Self is revealed. Divine consciousness streams from “the door to the Supreme” (Brahmarandhraew) to the Anāhata Chakra through the Brahma Nādī. With this the circle closes: Consciousness is filled with love, and love is enlightened by consciousness.


Gomukha Vajrasana Cow Face posture: sit on your heels, you are welcome to use a block to sit on if the knees bother you at all. Lift the left arm up first, bend the elbow and reach beyond to connect with the right hand, a strap or towel can help you to connect the hands as needed. Keep the back super straight, close the eyes, take a deep inhalation through the nose and as you exhale open the mouth and make the sound "Ahhh" for as long as loud as you can. Repeat this several times before releasing the arms to the lap, keep the eyes closed and notice the affects on the heart chakra as well as on the entire left side of the body. Repeat on the opposite side.


Prana Uccara Meditation This is a meditation to connect the heart energy with higher spirituality through the use of the breath. Sit comfortably and relax the body. Focus on the physicality of the breath, feeling the sensations of the air moving in and out of the body. Focus on this for about five minutes. Then gradually start to shift the awareness to the level of the subtle energy of the body. Follow the energy along the Nadi channel as you inhale through the nose follow the energy to the heart chakra and as you breathe out grave the flow back out the nose and further to a point 24cm in front of the nose. Continue this stage of the meditation for a minimum of five minutes. For the final stage inhale bringing the the awareness tot the level of the heart chakra and as you exhale move the energy straight up from the heart through the crown of the head to a point 24cm directly above the crown chakra. With each inhale trace the flow of energy back down to the heart chakra and with every exhalation bring the energy back to the point above the crown chakra. This stage is the longest, try staying with this part of the meditation for a minimum of 15 minutes. To help keep focused you can silently repeat to yourself the words "Hum" as you inhale and "Sa" as you exhale or if you are more visual you can picture a string attaching the two pints of the heart and the point above the crown, as you inhale a pearl glides down the string to the heart and as you exhale it rises up the string to the point above the crown.


In Conclusion:

When we begin to look at our worrying minds it helps to zoom out and evaluate the body and the heart (soul) as a whole. Allowing the heart to take the driver's seat over the mind and body keeps us calm, happy, and connected to our Self as well as others. Taking it one step further yoga teaches us that connecting to the energy of the heart is the path to connecting to the divine.


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