There are many tips on deepening asana practice, emphasizing its importance as a tool to deepen awareness of the mind-body-spirit connection, rather than as asana as a goal—that is, as an exercise in twisting the body into a pretzel. Every practitioner can benefit from the chapter "Injury, Pain, and Healing," which encourages attention to the body's own signals when practicing.
There is a fine line that marks the edge of our ability, and going beyond that line can lead to serious injury. Learning how to stay at that edge is a profound lesson. In the chapter "Meditation is Life," White emphasizes that asking how to meditate misses the point. Although he gives a few useful techniques, he stays away from a dogmatic approach that prescribes exact methods. As he says, "Meditation cannot be taught, but meditation can be learned.
I highly recommend this book. I know I will return to it often. Oct 25, Angela Boland rated it it was amazing Shelves: This book is right up the current spiritual alley in which I find myself. Ganga White pulls a lot from his own personal testimony of life as a yogi. It's a goo Synopsis: It's a good blend of practicality and spirituality; the two don't always blend well.
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For instance, he provides breakdowns of the many different types of meditation available and how to try them. Also, he likes to remind us how important it is to keep an open mind—in all things. A lot of territory is covered in this book. Nothing is delved into very deeply. I would highly recommend this book to any yogi or aspiring yogi.
The Western world has kind of performed some cultural appropriation on yoga, and this book helps you get back to the roots. This book contains tremendous insight regarding yoga practice in the 21st century. Although Yoga Beyond Belief is a look at the practice from a contemporary perspective, White includes history and explains origins.
The scientific link to this spiritual practice was well written and profound. The writing is conversation and concise.
For some, there is a tendency to devalue new literature and interpretation on classical practices, but White makes an excellent point: Music is not the same as it was when it was first developed. Early forms of music were very limited in range, pitch, and complexity, with simple rhythms and fewer possibilities of instrumentation. Over the centuries music has evolved into many genres and highly complex symphonies that communicate broad ranges of feeling, emotion, and meaning. Similarly, our understanding of spirituality needs to grow and evolve beyond the limits of tradition and ancient mappings.
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Sep 28, Katie Maguire rated it it was amazing. Ganga White is brilliant. He has studied yoga in every corner of the world with the most prominent teachers of this century, and then distilled the important elements of it well-being, safety, inquiry, discernment into his own teaching. Despite the depth and intensity of his experience, he is an incredibly accessible teacher, and I feel so utterly privileged to have experienced it firsthand. I'm barely holding you.
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Ganga and his wife Tracey Rich are incredibly gifted teachers and they are both friggin' hilarious. Such a perfect combination of totally dreamy and completely down-to-earth. Dec 16, Jo rated it liked it Shelves: Part of the reason I liked this book is because a lot of what White had to say matched up with a lot of things I've thought myself; maybe if he weren't saying things I already believed, I'd like the book less, but maybe it would have just make me think harder which I think I've done enough of this semester, thankyouverymuch.
Some of what White's saying sounds totally nuts, like, "Pain is our friend," but he's got a point about it. He does sound a little annoying-new-age-y sometimes, but other Part of the reason I liked this book is because a lot of what White had to say matched up with a lot of things I've thought myself; maybe if he weren't saying things I already believed, I'd like the book less, but maybe it would have just make me think harder which I think I've done enough of this semester, thankyouverymuch.
He does sound a little annoying-new-age-y sometimes, but other times he makes a lot of sense to me. This is one of those things I'd never have read on my own and may never read again, but, even though I was forced to read it for class, I won't call it a waste of my time or stupid busy work. Jul 09, Beth rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Great book, and surprisingly easy to read and digest not always true for spiritual or yoga books. Ganga approaches the subjects of yoga asana, meditation and spirituality with a down-to-earth yet inspiring voice, telling readers to sift through tradition, teachings and experience and find what rings true for yourself.
The very last paragraphs of the book are the most meaningful, to me: Be quiet, sit, and breathe in a place of beauty Be attentive to all things in life.
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Ganga White has been a huge yogi since the 70s and founder of the White Lotus Foundation. This book focuses of principles of Bikram the yoga I practice , and gives a wonderful insight on how yoga can be used for mind, body and soul. Its practical and inspiring and gives you greater insight on how to practice with awarness. I really loved this book. As its not a book on technique rather understanding the greater processes of flow. Mar 23, Jen Madsen rated it it was amazing.
What I appreciate about this book is that while it acknowledges the "jewels" of the past in the art and philosophy of yoga, it also allows for yoga to be relevant to modern, and perhaps rational, people and times. To use a yoga metaphor, it allows yoga to breathe. Rigidity is so antithetical to the practice of yoga that it should be an obvious error to insist on practicing yoga a particular way simply because that's the way it's been done for thousands of years. He guaranteed salvation. The captain announces their freedom. They have been saved.
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But no one moves. We are breathless, too. Step 4. He made us feel saved. He enters the center of their anxiety and aligns himself with their feelings. He looks them in the eyes. He whispers to them. Their savior, now eye to eye with their own angst through his freely chosen and lowly position, takes on their anxiety, and they feel relief. In a word, saved. The Navy Seals Captain and Captain Hughes are now one because Pastor Hughes has lowered our own level of anxiety and thus made it go away. Step 5. He gave us confidence. Captain Hughes has won our confidence in him. He holds up the Bible and says he has saved us in the name of Christ.
Our feelings of assurance and confidence are now, in a word, christened. But I had never noticed this three-story, red-brick A. I wanted to observe how emotions were handled in a black church. The comparison of black and white church strategies to upgrade raw emotions into religious sentiments, I thought, would certainly increase academic interest in my fieldwork and add depth to my study.
The Rev. The A. The main church service began at AM, but I arrived 10 minutes early.
The church sanctuary was almost completely full, so I had to sit at the back of the church, two rows from the main entrance. The dark wood pews, stained glass windows, vaulted ceiling, chandeliers and red-carpeted floor made the large space feel smaller than it actually was. The sanctuary with the balcony above would seat some five or six hundred people, yet the setting was not imposing, but warmly inviting. Almost everyone in the congregation was African American. I was glad I had decided to wear my one and only black dress, stockings, and black pumps.
Almost all of the men wore suits and ties. There were a few congregants in jeans and t-shirts or other casual attire, but they were a tiny minority. I seriously considered buying and wearing a hat if I ever attended another one of these services. But with further observation, I noticed that hat-wearing seemed for the most part to be limited to the women who were elders of the church.
All of these observations and thoughts were quickly erased from my mind by the music. I was listening to jazz! Not Saturday nightclubbing jazz but Sunday morning go-to-church jazz. The pianist, organist, electric bass player, two saxophonists, the electric guitarist, and the drummer were playing gospel music within a jazz motif of blue notes, fluid styles, and rhythmically complex riffs. Surely, the music must have rekindled memories in the older congregants of the classical era of progressive modern jazz in the mids when Miles, Mingus, Coltrane, and so many other giants turned jazz into the music of the black intelligentsia.
A praise team of three women and two men stood at the front of the sanctuary singing. Next came the long procession of choir members, deacons, and deaconesses, with the five ministers of the church at the very back. A woman dressed in white and wearing white gloves, with one of her hands gently closed and resting on the small of her back, was at the very front of the procession.
With a slow, syncopated step, she led the procession to the front of the sanctuary and then turned and extended her arms in both directions. The procession line now split like the Red Sea as the people moved to their designated seats. The processional lasted at least 10 minutes as the congregants sang, swaying back and forth to the beat of the music.
The senior minister—a towering grey-haired figure with glistening dark chocolate skin, piercing eyes, a strongly chiseled brow, and sculpted cheek bones—walked alone at the very end. Everyone who could stand was standing. So did I. I rocked back and forth with a disco dance beat that delighted me. I loved to dance. The movement of my arms and feet, the soft swaying of my hips unlocked something in me, and tears streamed down my cheeks as I swayed back and forth. I felt as if a pressure valve inside me had been dis-engaged by the rhythmic heat generated within me through the music, and singing, and the slow, steady rhythmic beauty of the procession.
The chokehold grip on my feelings was broken, and emotions that were triggered in me now flowed out in tears as an unnamed mixture of sorrow and extraordinary joy. My body and its feelings had become part of my conscious life. My mind was awestruck, stillpoint still. There were no thoughts in my head. Every part of me felt realigned in this awesome place. Twenty minutes into the service, first-time visitors to the church were invited to stand and introduce ourselves, and then remain standing. Wave after wave of congregants stopped by to greet me as the music rocked.
As the service continued to unfold, I learned that the senior minister, the Rev. Leroy Attles, who had been pastor of the church for 32 years and built it into a 1,member congregation, was retiring. At one point in the service, Pastor Attles stood on the chancel behind the altar rail and invited persons who needed special strength to come forward for a blessing. He then waited and was silent for a long moment. Without a second thought, I stood and walked down the long aisle, up to the pastor, and shook his hand.
He smiled. For the next two years, every Sunday that I was in town I went to St. I thus honored their Trinitarian religious traditions as well as my own Unitarian faith tradition. Everyone, including me, was having a good time. The sights and sounds of the Sunday service began to abound in me throughout the week in stillpoint space and time. I felt the presence of the St. Paul congregants as the new way my spine tingled and a new way life-giving energy coursed through my veins. I now understood how the congregants in the Church of the Glades felt in their Sunday services, namely, renewed and regenerated.
I felt the transformative power of a corporate worship life that empowered my life. They loved me beyond my religious beliefs that differed so markedly from theirs. If I missed a week, numerous persons would welcome me back when I returned, and they would tell me that I had been missed.
The inner sense of myself as an isolated soul beholden to no one and dependent upon no one was gone. My interior life was now peopled in ways that affirmed rather than destroyed my emotional integrity. I felt like a homing pigeon that had finally reached its destination: my feelings. Every time the music director, Donnell Patterson, played or sang, I was swept into a field that gave my emotions the wings of a holy presence. The sights and sounds out there beyond me now whirled around inside me.
I felt alive from the inside out and the outside in at the same time. The experience was akin to being at a rock concert or in a symphony hall when the music gathers all of us up into the same sweep of feeling and makes us one collective soul for the duration of the concert. The rhythmic back-and-forth movement created by the music and the timbre of the spoken word warmed my heart. This heat felt like a Higgs Boson of faith that gave feelings the mass, power, and weight to bind folks together, personally and collectively, as an ingathered community of souls. The music rocked my emotions and loosened them.
The Slide. I felt joy, sadness, loss, remorse, grief, and so much more, without being swept away by an undertow that dragged me out to sea and drowned me. I was fluid and free. More like a master downhill skier on an alpine slope than a swimmer. The Glide.
The Burden of Justice
As I continued to glide, I was lowered into feelings of being held and cherished. The Love. I felt the infinite expanse of life—all of it—in a finite moment of my life. I was awestruck with love as every part of my life was taken up into the creative power of the All of life and embraced, cherished, and celebrated. I was not praying. I was the prayer. I now understood a story told to me years earlier by a Catholic priest, who discovered the heart of his God beyond the reach of his own religious beliefs. The Catholic priest had spent several months in Ethiopia, doing famine relief work with people from a local village.
While in the local village, the priest participated in a dance, in which the members of the devastated community spent countless hours, rhythmically moving in a circle to the beat of a single drum. Without food to forage or land to cultivate, the members of the village could do nothing except wait for their next shipment of food to be flown in. The villagers did this for hours on end. Wanting to be accepted as part of the group, the priest joined in, which immediately brought him face to face with a seemingly insurmountable problem.
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