Offering is not a mechanical process but a conscious and complete self-giving at the Mother’s feet. The aim of this workshop was to explore and experience the essence of this practice, which is so central to Integral Yoga. Further, we were led to track down long-buried patterns and memories, which so jar our progress and growth, to dissolve them in the Eternal Light. So much is presently beyond our awareness and inside we might feel blocked but don’t know why. It truly helps to pin-point what we are offering.
As the central poise in Integral Yoga is surrender, offering is essential in our growth. We can only truly grow as soon as we recognise that there is something much greater than what we usually regard as ourselves. It is that to which we must climb. This is the secret divinity which is our true Self. Really, Sri Aurobindo’s instruction to ‘Remember and Offer’ is a lifetime practice. It is one of the first practices we take up and inevitably the last. One is never too big to offer. Indeed, the bigger we think we get, the more necessary becomes the offering.
Those who join us are asked to hold a sincere and conscious space in order that a sacred but sharing atmosphere can be present throughout the sessions.
Day 1 - Graduating from Remembrance
Day 2 - Aspiration, Purification & Self-Giving
Day 3 - Offering for Integration
Session 1: Graduating from Remembering
As the title suggested, the aim of the first session was to look at remembrance and to graduate beyond it and then we looked at the practice of mantra and practice of conscious breath.
It is a fact that when we first come to yoga, we are in a state of duality between remembrance and forgetfulness, but to make progress in this yoga, we need to be in a state of constant remembrance. The question, that was answered here was how we do achieve this state? It’s difficult to maintain this state because we are constantly living on the surface. It’s only occasionally that we dive down deep, into the inner being. We don’t have a concept of this because the surface mind that seems to control so much of our activity and awareness, is incapable of grasping the constant remembrance. So, the first step that we must take in yoga is reorient our awareness from the surface to the inside and that’s a constant battle. It’s a matter of aligning our awareness, into the inside and when we are stationed inside, we can detach from what we observe. In this state, we are not really changing anything, but we are watching, witnessing and observing with awareness, and that gives us detachment, serenity and equilibrium.
It was deeply stressed that consciousness has an ability to change our inner movements and our destiny and it’s only because of consciousness that we can make progress in this yoga.
Practice (1): Go within. Feel the presence. You will see the presence is pregnant with power. Feel it alive, in you. Consciousness is awareness, of anything, through identification and what we identify with, consciousness is the very core of our being. It takes a long time to bring it forward, the true consciousness, is aligned to our Psychic Being. Psychic Being, comes forward slowly, the segments of the soul must be unravelled for it to come forward. True consciousness has to be invoked and invited. Invite your consciousness now because the consciousness always remembers. Consciousness is in a state of constant remembrance. Invite it, bring it forward, connect with it, connect inside, with The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. When you see the movements inside, with consciousness, when you are in true consciousness, you can change it.
Conclusion: This workshop was about consciousness as when we practice, we activate our consciousness. Practices such as the one done above, are not meditations, rather they can be done in every activity.
Two Practices that greatly facilitate this state of remembrance
- Use of mantra and Namo Japa
- , which is a repetition of a sacred name according to the Mother has the capavcity to control the physical mind, one basis of our habits. The repetitive nature of japa counteracts the habitual patterns and loops of mind. When the japa really establishes itself inside, it repeats itself automatically in the being, it just takes over. Mother was very much occupied with transforming the physical consciousness. It was shared that when Sri Aurobindo was in his body, yoga was in a different zone, and so He did not especially advocate the necessity of a mantra or japa. He said repeating HIS name or Mothers name was enough. But the whole essence and emphasis changed when Mother was doing her physical yoga and japa and mantra, took a stage of much greater importance and if we keep the mantra ongoing, remembrance will be intact and we will go beyond remembrance.
- Conscious Breath:
A practice of breathing consciously, just like the mantra, acts as a protection. Sometimes we are under attack, so repeating The Mother’s name is our best form of defence.
It was shared that Om chanting is great way of gathering presence and great protection, it’s very powerful. It’s important to note that when you are repeating your mantra/ japa – just focus on silence, between each word. Go deep into the silence between each word.
Practice (2): Close your eyes take 3 deep breaths. Come back to the normal breath, but be conscious of the normal breath, watch it. Where does it come from? Which part of the body does it emanate from? Which contours does it passes through? Watch the flow of the breath. And when you are breathing in, you are breathing in the Divine air. Know that. When you are breathing out, you are offering, what you don’t need. So breathing in, the divine air, breathing out and offering what no longer serves the purpose for you. All the excess baggage, just offer it. Breathing in, you expand, you become light, you feel a sense of power inside, you feel a deep presence building and building with each inbreath.
Conclusion of Session 1: If we really want to be conscious and be in a constant state of remembrance, Japa and Conscious Breath are indispensable ways to realign our consciousness, to its true home.
Session 2: Aspiration, Purification & Self-Giving
Summary: In this session, we worked on aspiration, purification and self-giving and we were given distinctive practices for the same
We started with the statement that Aspiration is essential in Integral Yoga. Aspiration is the fuel for our sadhana, it’s what drives us forward in our practice. Initially aspiration is aligned to personal effort and when we persist, it starts building a momentum of its own and the necessity for effort begins to lessen as we continue and then aspiration naturally takes over. Aspiration is seated in the Psychic Centre just behind our heart. It embodies the Presence like a fire. There is a fire of aspiration burning inside our heart and this fire can be nurtured by our consciousness. FThe Fire of aspiration needs fuel; we can choose to give it everything, as everything is a mixture, even our virtues. We can get into the practice of offering everything to this fire, seated deep inside. The more fuel you add, the more it grows.
Practice (3): Go inside, look with the heart. Try to experience this fire, try and see it. If you want to visualise it that’s fine, visualisation will become a reality. If you are not comfortable with the image of the fire, you can invoke the Mother in your heart. When you are offering to the fire, you are offering to The Mother. Summon together, all those things that you no longer require. That are not needed any longer. Those actions, impulses, desires, emotions, thoughts, irrationalities, defects, mistakes, summon all these and put them in the fire. Anything that is out of place, that you feel should not be there, place them on the fire. These things serve no purpose, they are not required. All your bitterness, anger, desires, cravings, lust, jealousy, toss them into the fire. As you see this, see that aspiration is taking the place of all these obstacles. Its surmounting all these difficulties, it’s becoming a powerful force.
Offer your defects and virtues, nothing in our nature is prefect. Offer everything; leave no stone unturned. You must be sincere for this work, because most of us are actually in love with our impurities. If this pains you a little bit, it’s because some part of you is holding on to it, your ego does not want to release what you are offering to the fire. The Mother is who we offer everything to. Give yourself entirely to the Mother. Get into the habit of giving yourself all the time, it’s an adjustment we must make in our consciousness all the time. It’s not retaining, or grabbing or acquiring, we just give ourselves to Her. This path of yoga is challenging and treacherous, but the motion of surrender gives us a sense of security and surety When we surrender, an immense burden is taken off our shoulders. It’s such a gift, we still do everything, but there is always this feeling that there is something, someone behind us, supporting us, nurturing us, helping us to grow.
Question (1): We offer to The Mother or to the fire? Answer (1): It does not really matter because its ultimately the same thing and our aspiration increases either way.
Question (2): This visualisation I think suits my being. I felt a profound opening. Answer (2): It is not really a visualisation, look at it like a reality, as its actually there. You just have to access it through your inner being and your subtle senses. Because this fire is there inside you. This is true, this is real.
Question (3): I wish I can be with this fire always, feel this fire within. Answer (3): Just be present with it, tend to it, nourish it. Just by being conscious of it, the fire will grow. The more you practise, the more your aspiration will grow and the more progress you will make in your spiritual practice.
Conclusion and reiteration: When this session finishes, go back to this as much as you can, to this fire, to The Mother and lock it inside you, so that it may manifest in your own being and may your whole life be an expression of this fire, of The Mother’s work. The paradox is that the more we offer, the more we are given in return. It may not be what we expect, but we are given all the force and energy to keep on offering and serving. We must not do it with any expectation in return, it’s not a trade, nor a bargain. We give for the sake of giving. We give ourselves for the love we have for The Mother. That’s all that is asked of us.
Focus of Session 3 – Offering for Integration and Will
Integration implies inner harmony, when we are harmonious inside, we are integrated as all the parts. Integration is what makes us whole. With integration, we are perfectly equipped with all the circumstances that life throws at us. That leads naturally leads to the Will, because without integration, the Divine will cannot exist.
Practice (4) – Observe your inner movements, as they appear on the surface and manifest. If you are attentive and you aspire, you can notice these inner movements coming to the surface. Often, they are prompted by certain triggers, and you associate these certain triggers with the certain reactions. You recognise your trigger-points, whatever prompts a particular movement in you, whether it’s positive, or negative, you have to recognize these trigger movements. The most important thing in this is to be very vigilant. You have to watch everything that trespasses the sanctity of your soul. When you connect to The Mother and watch what’s happening, at that moment, the the recoil and reaction are diffused immediately. The power of consciousness works so beautifully in the middle of action. You dissolve it, in the middle of action, it’s another victory of the Divine.
What to do: When you notice a wrong movement, coming back to the surface, with a trigger- point or no trigger-point, at that junctue, if your consciousness is activated, your consciousness will automatically offer this movement to The Mother, spontaneously. It comes with aspiration, sincerity and with dedication to the Divine work. So, you have to be very alert and non-judgmental, you have to be connected, that’s what we discussed in the first session, ways to be connected, maintaining this consciousness and remembrance and you can use those practices, to maintain the attentiveness that is requited to do this particular work. This is integration in everyday activities.
Channelise the body to do this work, because the body provides the detailed map of all our inner psychology, although it has the tendency of inertia, it has a greater goodwill than the mind and particularly the vital, so that makes it a reliable collaborator in this work of integration.
Practice: Close your eyes, connect, with The Mother and just ask for her guidance in this particular practice because you are going to need her help. Offer this practice to The Mother as that will give you the surety of a positive result. Now, quite disinterestedly (it means, without ego) start above the top of your head and start scanning, see what’s there, with all your consciousness, with your connection, with the Mother beside you and see what’s there. And do this, as you go down the body itself, every time.
- You have to be very relaxed but very alert.
- If you are connected, it will ensure, that what you see will be resolved.
- Going through the head, what do you see? If you sense or notice any disruption in what you are observing, just hold your consciousness on that area, and wait for an answer. The answer will come if the aspiration is there.
Through the head, into the neck, below the neck, look overall on your left and right side, is there any difference? We are on the path of surrender and self-giving and this implies surrender to a higher force. Do not be surprised, if you experience from the top your head, a descending Force going through your body or at least tpressing to get through your body. The reason, it may not be succeeding at this moment is because of the resistance that it’s encountering, within the body, but this Force will succeed in the end. With your love for The Mother, just apply Her presence, on every spot/area within your body that is impeding this descending Force. On your upper torso and back, be very attentive and see what’s there. Whenever there is an interruption of this flow of this force, there is something that’s stopping it, apply your consciousness on that area. This is self-integration in detail. Continue with chest, upper back, and into the abdomen area, lower back, just to see what’s happening. No judgment, do this disinterestedly, your station is with the Divine. Through the lower back, lower torso, hips, your genitalia, your legs, thighs, knees, calves, shins, ankles and feet. Never forget the feet.
- Are you conscious of this Divine force? That is descending, expanding and integrating your being?
- You have 2 resources to work with: Psychic connection and the Descending Force. Both of these are perfect instruments for integration.
When you are done with your feet, scan a little bit more quickly your whole body and sense the flow. Look around your body, is there a density there? That’s the subtle body that surrounds your body and that has a certain density, try to be conscious of that, that’s your inner physical, your true physical and that will be the perfect vehicle of transformation. As you are doing this, just offer this work to The Mother. Offer every part of your body to The Mother and aspire to be truly an integrated being.
Do you feel a sense of peace, in this work of integration? There is a dynamic peace that comes when this work is successful. It’s something that is quite powerful, that descends into your body and your whole being.
Will: As you have done this practice of integration you are now ready to work on unifying your Will. Offer your Will, to The Mother in front of you. This Will, that comprises so many conflicting and colliding elementts, normally includes so many colliding and conflicting tendences atoms and elements which really has no true ability to effectuate.
True aspiration is the driving force of our lives and gives us a purpose and true Will is a natural consequence of that. We just have to learn to unify it, unify all the conflicting elements, that are considered a part of ourselves: the desires, the impulses, the cravings, mental judgments, preconceptions, expectations, these are imposters, our Will is one, and that is the Divine Will, which is like an arrow that just hits straight at its target, and nothing can stand in its way. The two parts of this session are so deeply connected. – Self-Integration and Will. Because if our being is divided, how can we exercise true Will? We need a being which is full of collaboration and love, love for The Mother.
Q: We covered lots of ideas, but can you summarize what is, to remember and offer?
A: Remember the Mother and Offer everything to Her. We have to find our own way to do this. Sri Aurobindo has given a beautiful roadmap of this sadhana in The Synthesis of Yoga, but we have to tread our own path, in our own manner. It is not so much techniques and exercises: it is really the activation of our consciousness. I am just sharing my experience through this workshop.
Q: If there is a movement of fear or nervousness, then how to go about it? In the subtle body where to offer it?
A: You can two ways, first work on surface, see where and how it manifest on your surface and when you see the trigger-point and then you can anticipate it and then you can catch it on your surface, and when you catch it, then with all your love for the Mother, you catch it and offer it to the Light. With all your consciousness, offer it. When the fear comes, catch it and then you should supplement it, by going inside and working through the body. The body is full of hidden corners which have to be unearthed, with our consciousness and through the same we can unearth trace those hidden domains of the body where these particular movements hide.
Q. Can you identify the subtle body, where the fear is actually arising?
A. People are different, its not much of a location, it’s a vibration that you can sense. If you are conscious of this fear, that is half the battle so you can offer it to The Mother.
Q. Are you offering to The Mother within?
A. You are offering to The Mother, who is inside all of us, guiding and protecting us.
Q. Can it be imagined that The Mother is in the Psychic?
A. Yes, absolutely that’s her home. Experienced rather than imagined. The fire, the sun, these are like embodiments of The Mother, as The Mother has many faces.
Q. It was very palpable, the experience when you were leading us through and that led me to a lot of peace. But when I open my eyes, it feels like I was taking back to my concerns.
A. If it’s a pattern in you, you can work on this inside your body, because the body is a creature of patterns and understand this very well. Subtle body understands habit very well, how it keeps repeating.
Q. When you were leading us, the attention goes back to the pain and then you want the pain to go away?
A. You must be very disinterested, when you are looking at the body, as pain is not a part of ourselves. You have to be detached, although you are connected to the Mother, you have to experience it, then what is it? You have to keep the poise within the Mother. If you experience it with consciousness, it dissolves the pain.
Over 30 people registered for this event. At the beginning of the event, everyone was told to hold a sacred space throughout the sessions and this was certainly maintained over the three days> The atmosphere generated overall was a joy and a true boon..
The session was concluded with the following remark: Mother is everywhere, within us, inside us, guiding us, nurturing our soul, protecting us through all our lives troubles and hassles, She is by our side and the more we open to Her, the more She enters our life. The more we open to Her love, the more she becomes a reality in our life.
“I learned how to aspire, offer, which leads to surrender”
“Very nice peaceful experience”
“My interest in Integral Yoga is certainly evolving and this sessions have been illuminating to say the least.”
I” enjoyed the experiential approach James took in conveying his deep, profound understanding of Integral Yoga and its application to personal growth and everyday life. I very much enjoyed the journey James took us on through purification of the vital and physical to reach and activate the heart centre (the psychic being). His calm, peaceful, deliberate approach was powerful and penetrating and the presence he invoked continued after the workshop.”
“Yes. James is a very helpful, attentive and articulate leader who is able to assist individuals with their yogic evolution according to their actual place in the Light of the Divine/Mother.”
“This event was an ideal jumping board. In fact, I will be studying the notes and reviewing the videos whenever I can. I am very grateful to the Society that they are maintaining the videos on Google Drive, a very accessible and global platform. I hope they will be maintained for a long time on this platform and shared with other organizations/individuals as the Society deems appropriate. I hope this sacred, yet practical knowledge is used for many collaborations going forward.”
“I am very grateful for the recordings (excellent experiential teaching) and understand about the importance of creating space through participation. I hope to join in any similar future seminars you offer.”
(What enjoyed most)
“The calm atmosphere and trust in class and James to explore our inner world.”
“James’ calming quiet presence and delivery, his simplicity and passion in what he has experienced and sincerely believes in and so was able to ‘pass on that’ with assurance.”
(Assisting growth within Integral Yoga?)
“It definitely did. I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity of a busy overseas work trip amidst an international group of people for the duration of the workshop (I heard the recordings every morning ) and so was in the ideal position to put into action “ Remember and Offer “. Keeping that true awareness, James talked about in the first session was the perfect start and offering all into that flame of aspiration ……helped me to interact well with others remembering the Mother and offering all to Her in Her Light and Love and Guidance.”
(Areas for improvement?)
“The classes seem to be a constant evolution and invitation to go deeper into integrated beingness. As far as improvements, the invitation is to review class notes and recording and to keep integrating. Focus areas - i don’t know enough to recommend where the class needs to go. Thank you.”