Listen to “The Secrets of the Yamas”

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The above link is an audio clip, the source is from a book written by John McAfee.  It is a small little book that I find has such profound relevance for the true purpose of Classical hatha yoga.  In the  next few posts I will read the chapters and hopefully give you something to contemplate about your yoga practice.  I find that speaking and reading aloud helps me to deeply place the thoughts somewhere inside where I can explore the concepts deeper.  Its one thing to write and study yogic texts and another entirely different thing to realize and live the concepts.  This is hard work to distill to our basic core, but it is most fulfilling, I hope you have the patience and courage to lift up your experience.  Again, I remind myself the best way to do this work is to stay with the Isha Kriya practice for it’s within those moments during and directly after completing the kriya that  the wisdom is most brilliant.  So I keep turning these ideas over and over inside to own them in my thoughts.  Remember we become what we meditate upon.  Happy Kriya !!!! Namaste

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209 responses »

  1. This audio clip of a reading from John Mcafee’s book opened my eyes to a history of Yoga that I admittedly had no idea of. I admittedly always saw yoga as a means of aerobic exercise alone, with no idea of it’s ability for self discovery and awareness as has been stated in this audio clip. This, in conjunction with the 8 limbs from our other reading, such an incredibly useful accompanying guide for one to reach inner peace and liberation. This audio clip has also given me a newfound appreciation for the deep-long history of yoga in a spiritual sense, rather than the “hipster vegan in Beverly Hills” that I had associated with it previously.

    • Separately, since class I have practiced the Isha Kriya 3 times as requested since the last class. I practice whenever my schedule allows for it, but around 6pm seems like it will be the most convenient. I practice in my bedroom, with an incense stick burning. My experience has been relatively the same as the first time I had practiced, but if I had to pick out any noticeable difference, I would say that it’s become increasingly easier for me to enter the state of relaxation. The meditation itself is still incredibly beneficial for my mental state and overall calmness throughout the day afterwards, and am excited to continue continue my practice and see how it can further benefit me in my daily life.

  2. John McAfee’s excerpt was truly mind opening. I believe that sometimes I can become too attached to materialistic things. Those materialistic things include my phone, social media, my computer and many other distractions. I find that sometimes I do not spend enough time enjoying the simple things in life. In the audio clip, you mention how sometimes we are too drawn to television. I find that we can sometimes be way too concerned with other people rather than being concerned with ourselves. Being self-aware is so important if one wants to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

    As a society, I think it’s important to realize how vulnerable we are to materialistic things. We should always take time throughout our busy weeks to meditate and reflect on our life. I think practicing the Isha Kriya is a great way of doing that. Practicing the Isha Kriya makes me feel more in touch with my soul and body. It makes me feel more connected to the world, in more way than scrolling through my social media pages. Thanks for sharing this great excerpt!

  3. John McAfee has an interesting insight on life experiences. It is true that we as humans have progressed and lived in so many ways when it comes to our internal selves, we don’t face who we are and don’t attempt self exploration which can be so healthy and beneficial to our mind and body and to the practice of yoga. The questions McAfee ponders are really thought-provoking and say a lot about the complexities of our lives in todays society. Our sources for entertainment and interest are external and when those distractions are ceased, we become bored and anxious to continue to consume. People need to practice to embrace the now, to embrace the quiet and to look inward instead of extend outward at something that distracts us from ourselves.

    – Lilah Tsudome

    I have practiced Isha Kriya three times in the past week. I usually practice it before I go to sleep or when the sun is down because I have more time to spare and are more calm and collected. I try and practice in my room on the floor on my yoga mat. Doing the kriya has definitely been hard for me sine I am not used to giving myself so much time without movement. Meditation is hard for those with a mind that races. But I have found each time I do it, I am slowly getting better. The mantras are interesting to me and each day I recite them, I find they somehow relate to something that happened that day and are calming and therapeutic.

  4. In this modern day and age, we more often not have other people’s ideas in our head. We’re either listening to music, watching TV, (in college at least) going to class or reading. All those things are important and help make the place to live, but keep us from going deep into our own minds and seeing what’s going on in their. Also those things help inspire us to be original and think for ourselves using the elements we learn from our entertainment, they can only do that to a point.
    Another thing I think is keeping people from self discovery (especially among youth) is the willingness to over medicate. While stimulants (i.e. Adderall) and SSRIs can be very helpful, I fear that people have become very reliant on them, preventing them from self-discovery, through experience, contemplation and meditation.

  5. It’s really unfortunate that the internal side of yoga has been so significantly downplayed in modern American culture. There’s a certain irony that people practice yoga for their health, and because it makes them feel better than they otherwise would, but they are potentially missing out on the greater and more significant benefits that the meditation and mindfulness aspects of yoga could bring them. Many people who are suffering from stress and anxiety gravitate or are remanded to yoga and similar activities to help them manage, and it makes me sad to understand that often they might not be in an environment that helps them process and explore those feelings.

    It’s been my observation that those who cannot be happy in time spent alone examining their own thoughts have a hard time being happy anywhere else. Comfort with the self is the first step to comfort with other people and the world in general.

    • Please do let me know the name to give your credit to….and your statements here are true, but there are many reasons why it is not so easy for many nowadays to find peace with their own quiet….lets all put our best step forward to making it a positive reality for everyone in class this semester, thanks, OM

  6. Inconveniently, the audio link is no longer working. However, doing a little Internet digging, I was able to get a gist of what McAfee’s writings were about.

    Eliminating distractions is a reoccurring theme that I know I certainly need to work on. Such distractions become hindrances on the more important aspects of one’s life, taking away from the satisfying completion of goals and fulfillment of desires. Instead of recognizing what you can do to better your own life and others around you, society has made reputation based on material possession and social networking identification a measure of self worth, forcing young members of our communities to compare themselves to anyone and everyone else, instead of focusing on their personal satisfaction. It’s truly unfortunate, but it is so much a part of our world that it’s unavoidable, and something that can hopefully change as we further understand the implications of technology and society’s consumerism tendencies. Yoga defies these changes, continuing to push the promotion of the self, the mind and the body.

    Isha Kriya Update:

    This past week I was only able to practice twice, consumed by a busy schedule that leaves me with limited free time. I practice at home in my room, where I’m able to close the door, and in doing so, close out the exterior distractions. The more I practice, the more I’ve noticed that I’m able to concentrate on relaxing my body, more so physically than mentally, but for being a fairly tight individual physically, this is a relieving feeling.

    • The audio clip does work, do try using a different browser and know that all the computers in the library work well with the blog. This is important because there will be more audio files from this source for your review and you need to hear all to gain the full context and understanding. Please do care enough for yourself to find 12 minutes daily to take care with the Isha Kriya….OM

  7. In the excerpt read of John McAfee’s “The Secret of the Yamas,” the question that is raised is why we seek to find distractions outside of ourselves so that we can avoid looking inward or being alone with just ourselves, as we actually are in yoga and meditative practices. I have asked myself this several times in the past few years, reflecting on my own habitual need to be in the presence of a friend or my boyfriend or preoccupied with coworkers at work, etc. When I spend a lot of time in isolation for more than two or three days straight, I become really restless and yet unproductive, internally anxious to be engaging with someone via text message or other social media; time over the course of the day passes much slower as I am more hyperaware of it passing, and as a result I end up waking up later and later in the day, reluctant to restart the exhaustive process of a daily cycle. This is not the case, however, when I am around other people — when I stay with friends or live in my apartment on campus with multiple roommates, I am much more motivated to get up earlier, to go out more and prioritize my time/be productive with it, and I am enthusiastic to make meals.

    Though I am aware of this dependency on outside interaction, my impulse is not necessarily that it is a habit to be unlearned. I am ready to learn and actively practice to be alone with myself in order to enable meditation and internal reflection, however I feel a healthy balance in my life that allows me to function productively in the world.

    *Isha Krya: My practice with the Isha Krya this week has been interesting because I burned the palm of my hand as well as two fingers on a hot pan handle in my kitchen, and so meditation seems to amplify or possibly just hone my attention in on the pain of the burn. I have found it very difficult to block out or ignore the pain enough to have a meaningful meditation.

    Whisper Blanchard

    • So sorry to hear about your burn, you must be an awesome cook, all the best cooks have some burns here and there…..and yes you are correct, our meditative times do enhance our intense qualities…such as hunger, anger, pain….until we get to the next level and then we are able to rise above these qualities more easily, so do stay on the path. Have you tried to add honey or rescue remedy cream to the burn?
      Best wishes, OM (thanks for a well written essay)

  8. This audio clip was incredibly calming, supportive and beneficial for me to hear. I could listen to it every morning and likely feel a strong benefit in it’s reminding nature that yoga practitioners and spiritual being are all on the same path to remind themselves and each other that self-discovery and self awareness are key components to thinking clearly and living a life that is reflective and positive or traveling in an upward direction instead of flat-lining. The notion of needing or thinking that you need companionship or distractions to take us away even temporarily from our fear of being alone with ourselves is so important!! Moving too quickly without thinking from one situation to another is not being mindful.
    Discomfort is important sometimes to disconnect from what we know and are comfortable with in order to extend that comfort to the deeper part of ourselves and different intersections and sections of our lives. This sort of thinking is healthy and helpful to our overall daily interactions and way of being in the world. Remembering why we practice yoga and why it was originally developed, not just as an exercise tool is an amazing way to connect with yourself spiritually and connect with the practice. It is a way to honor history and the teachers and practitioners of yoga who came before you.

    Great podcast/audio posting. I really benefitted from hearing this.

  9. I was surprised when I saw John McAfee’s name on this post, I wasn’t expecting such a profound writing about self-realization from a computer programmer. I had to look him up to make sure I wasn’t confusing him with somebody else. I think it’s amazing to hear what a man of science and technology has to say about the process of yoga and meditation. The part that discussed the aspect of the physical practice of yoga playing only a small role in meditation was a great point. The comparison to the car was a great analogy. The inflation of the importance of the physical aspect of yoga is something that I have noticed, even with my minimal knowledge on the topic. People likely put to much time focusing on their physical body that they’re not even considering the deeper potential that yoga could provide, outside of just physical health.

    The idea of that feeling of discomfort during a time of a lack of distractions and “nothing but ourselves” is something that I can relate to very much so. The lack of sounds and sights don’t just bore me, I do feel legitimately uncomfortable when I see or hear nothing going on. As for the hearing, it likely has to do with my tinnitus and my inability to sit in silence without feeling extreme discomfort. But for me, the absolute lack of stimulation (unless that’s what I’m looking for) is highly unpleasant and it’s something that I strive to avoid. I feel like stimulation is very important to my mental health, while at the same time meditation and yoga could become something that will benefit me much more, and allow me to become comfortable with moments of peace and quiet.

    -Matthew Harris

    • You may also become even more surprised if you look for McAfee’s chaotic episodes a few years ago….proving that even an once enlightened person can become lost once choosing to follow people, places and things that are not grounded. This is a very well written, honest journal essay, congrats….do speak with me in class about your personal need for constant stimulation….I gather that you understood from the first class and syllabus that this is a part of the class and if you are willing I think I can help you make a transition. Namaste

  10. I was very surprised to find out that this reading was by John McAfee of McAfee Antivirus. He never really struck me as the most down to earth guy noting his recent behavior and allegations against him. However his words in “The Secrets of the Yamas” were profound.

    The line “The journey of self discovery is often lost or regulated to the category of mysticism”, stuck with me in particular. Self discovery has never really been something at the forefront of my mind, and if it ever was, it was more than likely a misconception of the subject clouded by materialism and the yearning for social approval. Technology, social pressures and societal fear have all played a major role in inhibiting much of modern youth from staying on a dedicated path of self discovery and spiritual fulfillment. These unhelpful points of focus can steer those away from the proper mantra. This audio clip will serve me well in continuing my studies.

    • Yes, I too was surprised when McAfee’s behavior took a wild turn, this book was written years before his manic adventures. However, it only proved to me at any point of ones’ life without proper direction and grounding we can be subject to negative happenings as people, places and things do have power over us. “We become what we think and meditate upon….” Sadly his alliances have led him astray but his writings from the past remain sound. Namaste

  11. I was someone that believed yoga was solely for improving the physical body with poses that would make the body stronger, more flexible, and more limber. It was important to learn while starting the practice of yoga that these are all just side effects of the greater and more important practice of improving your life and becoming more self-aware. I am someone that is constantly seeking distractions. My crushing anxiety/depression often makes tasks seem impossible or unbearable and I have fallen into the habit of filling up every unused minute of my time with social media or TV shows. I am never satisfied with this empty and meaningless time expenditure and know that there are better, healthier, and more successful ways to manage my problems and thoughts, but it has been difficult to find the right method to do so. The more I learn about yoga, the more I believe that this is going to be an extremely important tool for me to implement in my life.

    I have only practiced Isha Kriya once this week. I practiced at night, at around 10pm in my dorm room. I sat up right and cross-legged on my bed with a pillow supporting my back. It was a bit hard to concentrate, since it was my first time practicing on my own, but I found the rhythmic breathing to be very helpful. I often times forget to breathe without even realizing it throughout the day, so it was extremely helpful in reminding me to be conscious of my breathing and even my thoughts. I will make sure to find time in my busy schedule to practice Isha Kriya 3 times a week from now on.

    • Glad you are catching up with your Yoga Journals and your home IK practice is important to keep the yogic vibrations throughout the week, as well to prepare you for the work that happens on the mat in class. OM

  12. As a theatre major, unpacking and analyzing the human experience is a passion of mine. King Lear is one of my favorite plays because it so eloquently portrays how a human can completely crumble if they neglect their truth and focus their energy too highly on outside factors. Yoga is an amazing tool that gives one the space to take time for themselves and to care for and calm and center oneself. Yoga is so much more than a workout at the gym. This excerpt brought to my attention just how severely our species relies on outside forces to stay sane and often even define themselves. It is incredibly important to know who you are alone, without other factors clouding the discovery of your self. If we can achieve a strong self-awareness and are able to remain peaceful when we are with only ourselves, no distractions, we can accept life, the universe’s mystery, and all its value.

  13. I was really excited to hear this reading.
    I find it fascinating that we have explored this world inch by inch, yet none of us find time to be self aware. You see it in religion, yet we rarely discuss it between peers. And nowadays, my generation rarely focuses on religion, as they do not feel connected to it.
    The quest for self awareness is something very important to me, especially as an actor. If you yourself do not know yourself, how can you know others and take on the role of others?
    Without the answers within ourselves we truly don’t connect to our reality. I really agree with that statement. I’ve seen a lot of people lost in their technology and unaware of the reality around them, especially in New York City.
    Yoga has begun to help me understand why I do the things I do. I’ve found during many of our yoga practices in class that I dive deeper into who I am as a person, why I wake up late, what made me the way I am, and the steps I can take to improve it (while also concentrating immensely hard, it’s both a mental work out and a physical one).

  14. Mass media and marketing are always pushing us to want more, making us think that we are not enough or don’t have enough. These advertisements are distractions and chaos from the clarity and peace that we all have within ourselves. They don’t come from a place of love, but a place of greed. Every human can tap into that inner peace through yoga. Looking inward rather than always focusing on the external can bring clarity to our lives, becoming mindful through meditation, or becoming self aware was the original purpose of yoga. This I didn’t know before listening to this excerpt. I believe everyone has the ability to reach that peace within themselves if they open their mind to the possibility.
    In our society we have created external distractions to help us understand the unknown. Holidays like new years are one example of this. Time doesn’t really exist but as a people we felt the need to organize the occurences of our lives. A marker, once every year keeps time moving forward when time is something very much non-linear that we can’t understand.

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