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The importance of awareness in YOGA practice and in daily life (1)

by Daciana Matei
"Not born fully lucid spiritually, man must gradually become fully aware, through his own efforts that have to be carried out with perseverance throughout his evolution. This difficult mission (for some) has to be fulfilled as soon as possible by each of us. No doubt that some have evolved more and further than us, while others are clearly far behind us. For each of us, however, the goal is common - spiritual liberation. ".
Yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru

Spiritual evolution means the awakening of consciousness and engaging of some latent aspects of our own inner universe. This awakening of consciousness is achieved gradually, at a slower or faster pace, depending upon our mental opening and on the spiritual aspiration that we manifest. To evolve spiritually, immense patience is required, a permanent attention to all the phenomena which manifest themselves in our being and around us, and an ability to learn from our experiences and from the other aspirants who follow a spiritual path and, first of all, to let us open inside towards the wonderful example of the accomplished human beings who have already completed the path of the spiritual evolution, reaching the ultimate liberation. The spiritual path that opens in front of us is no different than of the other people. All human beings who have attained liberation have taken the same inner journey and were faced with the same spiritual tests, and finally they got to overcome them. However, the spiritual path will be unique in its own way for each of us and to follow it we need the subtle guidance of an authentic spiritual Guide to guide our steps. He shows us what is the best choice we can make, but nevertheless, we are the ones that will take the steps on our own spiritual path. The spiritual Guide is also the one who helps us seek and acknowledge the presence of God in our being and in all that surrounds us.
Any human being that wishes to go throughout the long process of self-awareness will have to start by orienting their entire attention on the physical structure, on the body movements, the positions it adopts, the muscles that contract, on breathing, on the air which is used for both inhale and exhale, on his thoughts etc. Especially in the beginning, this awareness can be partial or vague. But later, as the capacity of awareness increases, we will manage to penetrate increasingly subtle layers of knowledge of our own being; our consciousness will stretch gradually and will start to include newer and newer mysterious realities, unsuspected before. We will then move to another phase of awareness, in which we realize that in fact we no longer identify only with our body or mind, and we begin to discover that there is something ineffable, far more subtle in our being. Emotional experiences will increase gradually, becoming global, deep and complex. At this stage, we find that there is a lucid consciousness that observes all the emotions, the states and the sensations they we feel, without identifying with them. After this, we will be granted access to another high level of spiritual transformation in which any manifestation of the ego disappears, leaving the place to the pure consciousness and the unification with the Divine, through the revelation of the Immortal Self ATMAN in our being. The last step of the spiritual ascent is the full conflation with the God the Father's Immortal Supreme Self, PARAMATMAN.
At the beginning of our spiritual journey, we often wonder how long we will have on this trip, where it takes us and if we are able to carry it out during this life. But, on the way, we will get to live increasingly more often in the Here and Now, understanding the fact that the present time is in fact made up of unique moments through which the grace of God is manifested to us, and what we have to do is we always abandon to his spiritual guiding. Thus, we will gradually get to think less and less in what moment and in what way we will reach the ultimate achievement, but instead we will live in a state of profound peace and quietness, fully recognizing the ineffable presence of God in every moment of our lives.

1. Awareness in the practice of HATHA YOGA
"A man does not become truly unique, until he awakens spiritually. Only then he is able to see with clarity and detachment his errors, illusions, false dreams and imaginative projections, only then, he intuits reality and totally accepts  the present moment, as it is manifested in all its divine perfection.“ yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru
To practice YOGA means to choose to evolve spiritually in an accelerated aware way. Many human beings practice YOGA in a superficial way, believing that if they do a HATHA- YOGA postures it will be enough to produce transformations in their being, that they will quickly become healthy and purified because of the energies that pass through their body. But it's a great hoax. Even though this passing of the energy is produced, without a proper awareness of the processes that are triggered in our inner universe - when do our spiritual practice - effects on the body, our psyche and mind are much reduced and it takes a longer period of time until they become visible in the physical plan. In this situation, analogically speaking, we are like a sieve that receives pure spring water, but the water will escape immediately through the holes of the sieve, leaving only a small part on the surface of the sieve. But if we begin to cover the holes of the sieve, one by one, carefully and patiently, we will notice that the water starts to be retained within the sieve and we will benefit more and more from the purity of that spring water. The awareness of the energies which are receipted in our being will make the body and mind purify and refine. Then, also through a proper awareness, we will see how these energies will begin to produce increasingly subtle transformations and at the same time more stable in our inner universe, as we start to have intuitions on the mysteries of our own being and the universe. Thus, the spiritual evolution is accelerated and the conditions necessary for attaining the state of spiritual achievement will be achieved.
In certain phases of our spiritual evolution we will experience some moments in which the process of awareness becomes shallow, and we will see some slowdown of our spiritual evolution. These moments are particularly important because they represent milestones in our lives. If until that time we accumulated sufficient beneficial, transforming and purifying experiences in our being, they will become for us genuine spiritual anchors which will not let us go away from the ultimate spiritual goal already set in our mind. What we have to do when these difficult moments appear in our spiritual evolution, is to continue what we started with even more tenacity and perseverance, evoking the exceptional moments which we had lived until then. As soon as we pass over this spiritual threshold, a new spiritual ascent will follow. If until that moment we drifted in unconsciousness and laziness on the spiritual path, and our attention is no longer directed towards the attainment of high pure and elevated states, but is distracted by various temptations and attractions, towards the fulfillment of egoistic desires, then a spiritual regression will produce which, if we do not become aware of it in time, we will lead to a removal from the spiritual path that we had followed until then.
"The initial state of euphoria that appears once with the first glimmers of the awakening of the conscience tends, in the vast majority of cases to fade after a shorter or longer period of time. This aspect characterizes the length of the impact of the beginning energy that supports us when we take our first steps on the road towards spiritual realization. After this effervescent period often occurs a feeling of shortage, of diminution of the state of grace, which can even lead to states of despair." yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru

Out of the whole complex of techniques and procedures that the HATHA YOGA system includes, the most well-known are ASANA-s, the body postures. During the practice of ASANA-s we will regard each body posture that we realize as a gate open towards profound spirituality. The practice of ASANA-s must be carried out in a perseverant, effortless and patient way. Even though, at first, some aspiring YOGIS cannot do the body postures as they are described, due to some physical limitations, the practice of ASANA-s will always have beneficial effects if their attention will focus on the execution of that posture. In addition, they may use creative visualizations, picturing mentally as clearly as possible, as they do that perfect body posture perfectly, with no tension. If the execution of each ASANA will be accompanied by the focus of the mind on that respective posture, we will be able to more quickly become aware of the effects that appear in their being.
The effects of the YOGA techniques (ASANA-s), asserted by the yoga tradition are confirmed by the practitioners. 
Also, to understand what this awareness means in the practice of the HATHA-YOGA techniques, we will take as an example the execution of a body posture MATSYASANA, or the posture of the fish.
24 January 2012