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June 2015

Rishikesh, a perfect place for inner connection by Maryama

Rishikesh by night

05 June 2015

Throughout ancient Hindu times, saints and sages have traveled to Rishikesh in search of a higher awareness through meditation. Hindu’s believe this beautiful city to be one of the holiest in all of India. Westerner’s commonly know it as the yoga capital of the world. And all those who visit know it to be a powerfully transformative and breathtaking place. Located in northern India in the state of Uttarakhand, Rishikesh is the gateway of the Himalayas and it is here that Mother Ganga leaves the mountains, flowing out toward the plains on its way to Varanasi. Legends tell of Lord Rama doing penance here after killing Ravana, of Lord Agni meditating here after he angered Lord Vishnu, and other great Indian sages like Rishi Vashishta meditating in nearby caves for thousands of years, thus building up a powerful energy to the area that is still felt today. Yoga capital of the world Because it is a holy city, Rishikesh is vegetarian by law. You will not find meat or alcohol served within the city. What you will find are a cornucopia of yoga ashrams and studios, yoga teachers and students, and an atmosphere of learning and seeking. Famous yoga ashrams like Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram, made famous by The Beatles, Shivananda’s Divine Life Society, and Kailash Ashram Brahmavidyapitham, a 133 year old ashram dedicated to preserving and spreading Vedantic studies, are some of many beautiful institutions found here. Since 1999, the Parmarth Niketan ashram has been hosting the annual International Yoga Festival. The festival attracts serious yogis from across the globe who come to deepen and expand their yoga practice. In Rishikesh, and throughout India, yoga practice is not simply about asana. Serious students of yoga come here to meditate, to learn kriya and pranayama, to study Vedanta, and to immerse themselves in the yogic lifestyle. It is here, in Mother India, that yoga moves beyond the physical and into the inner world. Though the practice of the eight limbs of yoga (yama, niyama, asana, meditation, pranayama, pratyhara, dharana, and dhyana) students move deeper into their practice. Source of the Mother Ganga Each evening people gather on the banks of Mother Ganga near Parmarth Niketan ashram for aarti. Aarti is a Hindu ritual in which small fire offerings are made to various deities. In Rishikesh the aarti’s are lead by the children of the ashrams. The ceremony begins with chantings […]

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Indo-Tibetan Psychology Inner Journey into oneself by Stéphanie

Landscape in Ladakh

04 June 2015

Over the past three decades, Tibetan philosophy and psychology have become important focuses of spiritual interest to the world and offer practical tools for negotiating your relationships with yourself and others. Indo-Tibetan Psychology The 2,500-year-old tradition of internal Indo-Tibetan psychology is human civilisation’s longest uninterrupted internal science. Its fundamental philosophy is the interconnectedness of body and mind at the subtlest level – known as Sem Kyi Rig Gnas – knowledge of which leads to physical and mental health and well-being. Tibetan psychology is a science, an art and a philosophy. It is scientific in that its principles are enumerated in a systematic, logical framework based on the investigation and an understanding of the dynamic working relationship between body and mind in relationship to universe. It is an art in that consultation is based on the insight and the compassion of the therapist, which opens up the creativity and inner resources of the client. It is a philosophy in that it embraces the causal nature of all phenomena and the ethics of altruism. Tibetan Art of Relationships Indo-Tibetan psychology offers a gateway, via inner experience, to the nature of the relationship between oneself and others, and our experience of reality. This workshop breaks new ground in practical meditation exercises, philosophy and psychology, and provides practical tools to help integrate experiential knowledge with inner development and well-being. Benefits of Tibetan Psychology In the modern world, our need for greater speed of thought pushes us away from our internal selves and creates disharmony of body and mind. The understanding and application of psychology in our daily lives reduces the resulting stress, depression, isolation and anxiety. The Tibetan psychologist’s openness and compassion facilitate a genuine proximity with the client. The enhancement of self-awareness in the moment requires us to be aware of our feelings, which determine our experience of reality. The key to this is to be in touch with our bodies moment by moment, and thus gain entry to our inner home, where we find a natural sense of self. The river only flows because it changes with the moment. Many people who have experienced Indo-Tibetan psychology report that they : Have genuine, increased control over their lives. Have taken active reponsibility for their own well-being. Have richer, more harmonious relationships with themselves and others. Are more self-aware and able to remedy negative experiences more quickly. Inhabit your body! Inhabit your senses! Feel […]

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Little Tibet-Ladakh by Stéphanie

03 June 2015

Ladakh – literally ‘The Land of Many Passes’ and also known as ‘Little Tibet’ – is situated in the northern-most part of India and shares borders with Tibet, Pakistan and the Indian states of Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. Its three main regions are Leh and the Upper Indus Valley (Ladakh’s Buddhist heartland), the isolated Zanskar Valley, and Kargil and Suru Valley, with its ancient Islamic culture. Ladakh’s Himalayan mountain ranges roll from the southeast to the northwest, reaching altitudes of 7,000m, with an average valley elevation of 3,500m. The 2,000-mile-long river Indus, originating in Tibet, drains the entire region, and is fed by rivers and streams from side valleys. ‘Little Tibet’ is shielded from the Indian monsoon by its marginal mountains, which keep rain-bearing winds out and create a dry, desert-like climate. Short, warm summers are followed by long, cold winters, with little snowfall and temperatures dipping to -35C. Ladakh is one of the highest inhabited areas of the world, and its sparse population has, over the centuries, developed a unique culture, strongly influenced by Tibetan Buddhism. The region’s picturesque village oases, with their flat-roofed mud houses, are surrounded by barley and mustard fields. Fort-like monasteries perch on the Ladakhi hilltops, and dazzling blue lakes contrast with the snowy peaks, vast plains and deep gorges. Plant life flourishes on the plateaus and along the streams of Ladakh. Flowers include anemones, blue poppies and edelweiss. Many medicinal plants grow at altitudes of up to 4,900m and, although there are few trees in the region, poplar, apricot, apple, mulberry and walnut can be found in the villages and lower valleys. Despite its extreme climate, the region harbours a multitude of wildlife, including yak, ibex, wild goat, blue sheep, Tibetan antelope, wolves, foxes and the endangered snow leopard. Birdlife includes snow cocks, partridges, the rare black-necked crane, griffon vultures, and the bearded vulture. Situated in central Ladakh, Leh is the second largest district in India. Leh town, at an altitude of 3,500m, nestles in the stunning Himalayan landscape. Its attractions include the deserted Leh Palace, whose architecture was inspired by the Potala Palace in Tibetan capital Lhasa, and Leh Monastery and gompas. South of Leh, in lower Ladakh, the Sham Valley is notable for the 500-year-old Basgo Palace (built by the Namgyal dynasty), the 11th century Likir Monastery, which houses a 25-foot guilded Buddha statue, and the 10th century Alchi Monastery – […]

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The inner Shambhala of Kalachakra by Stéphanie

Mystic land

02 June 2015

Shambhala has many names as well as a long history among the Tibetan and Indian peoples. Today it is revered as a Buddhist Pure Land – a place that is as much spiritual and mystic as it is geographic. In the West, Shambhala has become known as Shangri-La, a utopian paradise of peace and tranquility. For Buddhists and those seeking spiritual transformation, it is something much more. In Sanskrit, Shambhala means “place of silence or peace.” It is a land of paradise that is spoke of in many ancient texts, some of which predate Tibetan Buddhism. According to myth, Shambhala can only be entered by those who are pure of heart. There is no suffering and the land is ruled by love, wisdom, and peace. In Shambhala, there is no old age, there is no lack or want, there is only beauty and enlightenment. In Bon scriptures (the religion of Tibet directly prior to Tibetan Buddhism), references to this magical land can be found many thousands of years ago. They describe a land called “Olmolungring,” If you look at Hindi texts, Shambhala is known at the birthplace of the final incarnation of Vishnu. Many believe this incarnation, Kalki, will bring in a new Golden Age of humanity. History shows us that the Buddhist concept of Shambhala is an adaptation from the Hindu myth of Kalki, but it is the Kalachakra texts which first discuss this land in detail. This ancient text is a teaching on the “cycles of time.” There are three parts to all cycles: external, internal, and alternative. Everything that is discussed in the Kalachakra is discussed in terms of these three areas, including Shambhala. Externally, Shambhala is a physical place where only those with certain karma can ever reach. It is not a place you can find on a map or ever arrive at – it is a Buddhist Pure Land in the human realm. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama described it best during the 1985 Kalachakra teachings, “… it is not a physical place that we can actually find. We can only say that it is a pure land, a pure land in the human realm. And unless one has the merit and the actual karmic association, one cannot actually arrive there.” The inner and alternative meanings deal with an individuals mind and body. Shambhala can be thought of as achieving inner peace and silence. […]

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