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Hinduism: Week 1 Summary

Friday, September 18, 2015

Hinduism: Week 1

Summary: Sunday, September 13-Friday, September 18, 2015

“From ancient times down to the present, there is found among various peoples a certain perception of that hidden power which hovers over the course of things and over the events of human history.” —Nostra Aetate, Second Vatican Council (Sunday)

Hinduism draws upon inspirations, we might now say, from the collective unconscious or the Eternal One Spirit. (Monday)

The great mystics tend to recognize that Whoever God Is, he or she does not need our protection or perfect understanding. (Tuesday)

Hinduism provides for much human variety and patience with individual growth and understanding, and it moves people toward both tolerance and compassion. (Wednesday)

The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit for the yoke that unites the seeker with the Sought. (Thursday)

Hinduism teaches there are four major stages of life: 1) the student, 2) the householder, 3) the forest dweller (the “retiree” from business as usual), and 4) the wise or fully enlightened person “who is not overly attached to anything and is detached from everything” and thus ready for death. (Friday)


Practice: Pranayama

Raja yoga, one of Hinduism’s four paths to enlightenment, follows eight sequential steps, including pranayama (controlled breathing). Ginny Wholley, Mindfulness and Yoga Teacher, offers this description of pranayama.

Prana is life’s force or energy. Pranayama is willful changing of one’s energy, often through the breath, using variations of inhalation, exhalation, and sometimes holding the breath. From God’s breath we were created, and from breath, life continues.

Prana as breath is inhaled into the body, carrying with it the essence of the life. Within our being it is transformed, as well as transforming. Exhaled, it carries our essence, our unique energetic print; it is all one breath.

I invite you to follow Ginny’s simple steps for the pranayama practice Ujjayi, ocean-sounding breath:

This breath is slow, deep, and deliberate. Focusing on the sound is an effective technique to quiet the mind. It is very helpful in reducing mind chatter and preparing for meditation or relaxation.

Sit comfortably with your feet flat on the ground and your hands relaxed on your thighs.

Close your eyes or lower your gaze.

Through your nose, slowly breathe in and out while partially restricting your throat.

It may help to imagine your throat as the size of a straw. This breath creates an audible sound, at least to you.

An alternative image is to exhale out of your mouth as if you are fogging a mirror, making a long “haa” sound. After trying it this way, close your mouth and repeat the exhalation through the nose.

Put it together slowly, drawing the breath in and out of the nose.

Imagine you are on the shore. The water draws back into the ocean on the inhalation and rolls onto the shore as you exhale. Use your breath and limitless imagination to hear the ocean sound.

Gateway to Silence:
Moving toward love and union

For further study:
Bhagavad Gita (translated by either Stephen Mitchell or Eknath Easwaran)
Raimundo Panikkar, Christophany: The Fullness of Man
Wayne Teasdale, Bede Griffiths: An Introduction to His Interspiritual Thought 

Image credit: Mariko Bhakti Hirakawa at Veerupaksha Temple, India; photo by Ramnath Bhat
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