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Karma-Net Article Series

Karma Reality Check For the 21 st Century!
by Swami Anandakapila Saraswati

Keeping Sane NOW!

karma yoga

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,"
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

"Mental Health is the ability to labor, love and laugh."

Perhaps Carl Gustav Jung summed it up best when he said: "We deem those happy who from the experience of life have learnt to bear its ills without being overcome by them." - Carl Jung (1875-1961, Swiss Psychiatrist)

So what do you do to preserve your sanity in 2001?

Step One: When life is starting to drag you "Down Under" - Go on a Media Fast.

Let me quote from: "How To Clear Your Karma In Nine Days".
1: No TV
2: No Radio
3: No Newspapers

When you are starting to get anxious and depressed, this is an absolute and inviolate rule - no exceptions!

I would suggest to you that the biggest single source of mental poisoning and constant anxiety provoking agitation is through television and newspapers. We live in a society of "information overload" and we are bombarded by psychological toxins, through the media, that equal or exceed any ecological toxins.

karma yoga

Watching, reading or listening to the news before going to bed or first thing upon arising immediately adds to your Karmic cycles of action and reaction. Watching television before sleeping, or before breakfast, are two time periods in which you are naturally hypersuggestible and very much in a weakened and irrational state. Parahamsa Nirajan has often mentioned this principle.

To expose yourself to such stimulus is the mental equivalent of taking a bath in sewerage. There is a theory that TV will destroy civilization and that your brain is automatically placed in a zombified, hypnotic state just looking at the "box". I seldom turn TV on and very seldom do I ever scan a newspaper and I know other people who follow the "no TV" rule absolutely!

Karl Marx said "Religion is the opiate of the masses" and that was the 19th century he was talking about - in the 21ST century I would suggest that television is the opiate of the masses!

You might think that I am some kind of fanatic - a simple right-winger ranting about the evils of visual violence and pornography on the screen? If only educational and Walt Disney programs (whom the animal rights people have some reservations about, not to mention literary purists) were permitted on television, I still would have serious reservations.

At least, to look at a newspaper, you have to be semi-literate and utilize higher brain centers in the process - lessons off TV involve instant visual display neatly bypassing anything resembling critical evaluation.

The damage to children in inhibiting the learning of simple social skills and the encouragement to adults to abandon social interaction in favor of passive 'watching' is a 20th century epidemic directly attributable to the spread of "television" and transmitted into the 21st century with renewed vigor.

I am not asking you to agree with me - I am simply telling you that a 'media fast' is essential if you want to keep your head above water - and you may be surprised at how your anxiety level drops.

I also promise that anything necessary for you to know about, someone will tell you.

Humans, in days gone by, actually depended on talking to communicate - as unbelievable and quaint as that may seem!

As a final note, I have certainly watched TV in my life - one of the discoveries I made, and had this verified by my students, is that if you meditate immediately after watching TV you often find images from the program cropping up in your meditation and you have to process them before going deeper.

You may have heard the expression 'GIGO': 'Garbage In - Garbage Out'. Exposing yourself to the media means that the rate of Mental Garbage 'in' will exceed the rate of Mental Garbage 'out'.

(Extracted from "How to Clear your Karma in Nine Days" 1999, Llewellyn Publications: USA)

When you give yourself a "Media Fast" you are implementing Timothy Leary's rule (remembering that music was on records before most of you were born, not CDs):
"You can always pick up your needle and move to another groove." - Timothy Leary (b.1920)

STEP TWO: Be Very Careful What You Say To Yourself.

Self-talk is a crucial factor in maintaining daily well being. It doesn't hurt to remind yourself this is still the best country in the English speaking world in terms of climate, low levels of violence and a fairly relaxed lifestyle. I spend a couple of months a year in the USA but I love returning to Australia - now that I am an "oldie" you don't hear me complaining about Australia !

We do have a cultural hazard of putting each other down and being too cynical but life is still very good here: Our American cousins can teach us a bit about being kindly with their attitude:

"You don't grow tall by cutting someone else down and the tallest you will ever stand is when you bend down to help another."

A classic example of the things we say to ourselves, and each other, that help to destroy the fabric of our happiness is in the oft-quoted statement:

"It is too good to be true!"

What we are affirming, unconsciously, every time we say this is a destructive proclamation that "If it's True It Can't Be Good" or conversely "If It's Good It Can't Be True". How easily we self-destruct our opportunities for happiness!

Our Judaic-Christian predisposition for seriousness and dourness is also a definite mental health hazard. We readily remind each other to "not be flippant" and the oft-quoted (if misunderstood) comment of one of our Australian Prime ministers "Life wasn't meant to be easy" has embedded itself in the national Australian psyche.

Abraham Lincoln said something to the effect that "Folks are about as happy as they make up their mind to be" but my favourite quote is Irving Berlin's statement.

"Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it" . - Irving Berlin (1888-1989, Composer)

Step Three: Practice Meditation or Relaxation Every Day between 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm . I stipulate late afternoon because a very serious biorhythmic low tends to occur in nearly everyone between those hours.

Any form of Meditation is good and naturally I would be delighted if you did my Autogenic training seminar but the point is to do something that will unwind you every day. Let me quote from my book "Mind Magic Kit":

"A human being is not a piece of factory machinery that is automatically shut down at the end of the day."

Sadly, something that is not taught in school is the principle of daily shutting yourself down for a twenty-five minute restoration period each afternoon. It is an unbelievable characteristic of uptight Anglo-Saxon society that people are expected to work eight to twelve hours without a break (sometimes more) and be ready for an evening of activity.

The Mediterranean 's have their "siesta" and even the Navy knows that the "watch" is four hours on and four hours off - but not the English!
Fear-fight-flight are induced nearly every day of our life - we have to take time out and consciously learn how to bring out of ourselves the "relaxation response".

Of course, like everything in life, it is up to us; it is not something that anyone else can do for us. We have to make the time available.
You don't find time - you make time!

Quick Meditation Tips on the Spot:

A very effective method for dealing with acute anxiety is 10 to 15 minutes of careful rhythmic breathing exercises.

These need not be advanced nor complicated and indeed, for those who are not sophisticated in their yoga technique there is a very simple rule. Breathe as slowly as possible, so slowly that you are not able to hear your own incoming breath and accompanying this breathing is the following very simple visualization exercise.

As you breathe in, imagine that you see a feather hanging by a thread from the ceiling about an inch from your nose. As you breathe out do this so slowly that in the imagination the feather does not move or tremble.

Alternatively you can visualize a candle flame magically suspended in space, perhaps two inches from your nose. You are breathing so slowly, so fully, breathing out so carefully that the candle flame does not bend or flicker.

"Resolute imagination is the beginning of all magical operations." - Paracelsus

(Extracted From 'Mind Magic Kit': 1998, Llewellyn Publications USA.)

Step Four: Make An Inventory of Your Preferences, Likes and Sources of Pleasure.

The method I am about to discuss was first designed by the American Psychologist, Dr. Peter M. Lewinsohn, Ph.D., and I am giving you a modified form of one of his principles for behavioral modification of depression.

I have probably taken a hundred people through the full regime and I put myself on it every few years. Regardless of whether you consider yourself depressed this exercise can add real zing to your life. Don't be deceived by the apparent simplicity - it works!

WHO ARE YOU? Let us begin by discovering "Who you are!"

We can manage to get through our whole life without ever discovering who we are and the tragedy may be that it can suddenly be too late.

Someone wrote a poem that went something like this:

"First I was dying to get into High School,
Then I was dying to get into University,
Then I was dying to get a job,
And then I was dying to get married,
And then I was dying to have children,
And then I was dying to go back to work,
And then I was dying to retire,
And now I am just 'dying'!"

This exercise we are about to embark on is very serious and should be done every year.

Fill an entire page with a list (in detail) of everything that you 'LIKE'!

Don't get confused between "What you would like?" (E.g. winning the lottery) and "What you like?" "What you like" means achievable, tangible activities and things that can exist or potentially exist, in your environment NOW!

"What you like" represents the unique preferences that go to make "you" in this incarnation.

I am talking about real and concrete "likes" - what gives you pleasure? Enjoyment? What are the things you consider "rewards" that you look forward to? What constitutes a 'Treat' for you? E.g. hot curries, water skiing, painting, parties, nice clothes, reading etc.

My Personal "LIKES" list. (Make the list very full and detailed)

Now the list is complete let us consider what to do with it? The Object is to go out and make certain you do and enjoy as many items on the list EVERY day. This is straight behavioral psychology and it is a fact that the more REWARDING activities you pump into each day the better you are apt to feel!

You may think I haven't told you anything you don't already know but here is the problem. If you are like me, until I learned this principle, you may have a tendency to wait around for something "Good" or "Interesting" to happen - a bit like waiting to win the Lotto!

The other mistake, and a very Anglo-Saxon attitude, is to save any relaxation or pleasure up until the weekend, because than you have earned it. You earn the right to relax only if you have been miserable all week!

"We are always beginning to live, but are never living
." - Manilas (fl. 100 AD)

Life doesn't work that way - you have to make good things happen EVERY day, day after day.

So you need to keep a dairy and organize as many satisfying activities every day from your master list. Each item you integrate into your daily existence you write in your dairy.

You will learn that some activities have higher "satisfaction" scores than others.

Of course if you are too exhausted to enjoy anything after work because you never learned, or taken the time for a "Relaxation, cum Meditation, cum Siesta" break - then the system will fail!

When you consider that the general rule "When all is said and done - more is said than done!" is quite true, you have to realize this is not a method that can be "Talked about" or "read about" - it only works if you actually "do it" and implement it on a daily basis.

The end result will be not only feeling better and an increased sense of pleasurable anticipation followed by satisfaction but a bonus is you will train yourself like the sunflower: "The flower that follows the sun does so even on cloudy days." - Robert Leighton (1611-1684)

Let's summarize:

STEP 1: When life is starting to drag you "Down Under"-Go on a Media Fast.
STEP 2: Be very careful what you say to yourself.
STEP 3: Practice meditation or relaxation every day between 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm
STEP 4: Make an inventory of your preferences, likes and sources of pleasure. Prioritise and then Enjoy!

A Final Caveat: Everything I have mentioned is designed to help keep our heads above water - at the beginning of the millennium we are enjoying the classical curse, "May you live in interesting times!"

However, remember that someone also said, "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional" and everything I have suggested, does and is, intended to reduce suffering.

Realize that, through no fault, we humans can experience very severe psychiatric incidences that may be totally devastating. Nothing I have shared in this article will touch the sides of clinical depression or schizophrenia - although some of my suggestions can be useful in the recovery phase.

When you have very turbulent mental experiences it never hurts to check it out with your GP and then a Psychiatrist.

Barring the above-mentioned special categories, we can perhaps draw courage from Roosevelt 's statement in 1939: "Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds." - Franklin D. Roosevelt , Pan American Day Address, April 15, 1939 .

Actually the rules about life haven't changed much and 2500 years ago Hippocrates wrote in the opening paragraph in his book "Advice to Physicians":
"Life Is short - Art is Long
Judgment difficult,
Opportunity fleeting,
and Experience dangerous."

Hippocrates; opening paragraph of his "Instructions to Physicians" C.C. 500 BCE

Nothing has changed in 2500 years!

Dr Jonn Mumford (Swami Anandakapila Saraswati) is an International lecturer and author whose works include "Ecstasy through Tantra", "A Chakra & Kundalini Workbook", "Magical Tattwas - Hindu Tarot for the West" and "Mind Magic Kit". This article contains excerpts from his books "How to Clear Your Karma in 9 Days" and "Death: Beginning or End" (Llewellyn Publications, USA ) .

He was initiated into the Saraswati order by Paramahansaji Swami Satyananda, Bihar School, in 1973 and began his inner journey with Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj in the 50’s.

For information on Dr Mumford's private consultations, Distance learning Programs introducing Om Kara Kriya â ‘Alchemy for the Soul’

Swami Anandakapila Saraswati  
Dr Jonn Mumford
(Swami Anandakapila Saraswati)

Website:    Consultations: Distance Learning Programs



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