Tuesday March 26, 2019

Mirabai Bush speaks on Yoga and its uprooting (Part 3)

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By Nithin Sridhar

mirabaiDuring a time when people across the world are struggling hard to manage work-related stress and balance professional and personal lives, Mirabai Bush has helped thousands to harmonize their lives and optimize their outputs through contemplation and mindfulness practices.

She is the co-founder of The Center for Contemplative Mind and Society and teaches contemplative practices and develops programs that apply contemplative principles to organizational life. She had also helped Google create its ‘Search Inside Yourself’ program, and was one among those who introduced Buddhist practices in the West in the 1970’s.

She traces her spiritual practices to her root-teacher, Neem Karoli Baba and other masters in India from whom she learned various Hindu and Buddhist meditation practices. In an exclusive interview with NewsGram she spoke about her life, her work, and her stay in India way back in 1970’s.

Interview with Mirabai Bush- Part 3

Mirabai Bush on parallels between Yoga and Aikido

Mirabai Bush is well versed with both Iyengar Yoga and Aikido having learned both of them from teachers in respective traditions. Speaking about the common elements between them, she said: “They both are really grand in Ahimsa or non-harming. In the practice of Aikido, unlike other martial arts, no attack is taught. It is not only about defending yourself, but also about protecting the other person from creating bad karma for himself by hurting you. In the same way, in Yoga, by coming into harmony and balance with the body, mind, and soul, you come into a place of non-harming. So in that way, they are the same. You know the activities are very different, but both teach strength, flexibility, and centering.

“When I was practicing Aikido in a Dojo, during the time of practice, I did not had one thought in my mind expect the practice. It was partly because I was scared that if I did not pay attention, then I would get hurt. Anyways, in the same way in Yoga also, I had to pay so much attention to the body and the postures that other thoughts didn’t come in. So, by the end of either practice, I felt a kind of calm, clear and centered.

When asked about her personal philosophy and spiritual practices, Bush said that her personal philosophy is directly from Neem Karoli Baba’s teachings. She also does Buddhist meditation, Kirtan (chanting) and goes to retreats. Lately, she said, she has been doing practices that open up the heart. The practice involves just resting in loving awareness and repeating ‘I am loving awareness’.

Mirabai Bush on the uprooting of Yoga and meditation from their roots

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When asked about her opinion regarding how some teachers in US teach Yoga and meditation by uprooting them from their roots, Mirabai Bush said: “First of all I will say that I think of these spiritual practices as human practices. I mean, really at their depth, they are not Hindu or Christian you know. They are for us to wake up as humans. That being said, you should know that, in America there is an undeveloped sense regarding the roots or history of things. America believes like we developed everything from the scratch. Partly that was because, a lot of people immigrated here in order to start a new life and they tried to forget about their origins. This attitude kind of permeates American culture.

“Though everybody says Namaste at the end of practicing Yoga, most don’t understand its meaning. Also, in many cases, only the Asanas (postures) alone are taught without their philosophical roots. And this has happened in meditation as well.”

Bush narrated an incident in which she gave a presentation to a group of 60 participants about the origins of mindfulness and her stay in India with Neem Karoli Baba. After the presentation, around 20 participants who were from different parts of Asia came to her and said that they never knew that mindfulness came from Asia and that they always thought that it was an American thing. Bush said that she felt stunning when she heard what those Asian participants told her.

Bush added: “It’s not that people need to know geographically where a practice came from although that’s certainly helpful, but people need to know about the philosophical roots. So, that they don’t get caught in this superficial understanding of the practices. There is a potential in these practices for causing a deep transformation and now there are quite a few people who know that and who are writing and talking about it.

She further said that one must keep in mind that to some extent the practices themselves transmit the essence even though when taught in a secular setting. She gave the example of how Asanas if practiced properly one will learn a lot from within, even though the Asanas may be taught by a very secular teacher. But she added that: “It is just a shame to lose the opportunity to study and learn the philosophy and spiritual frameworks. Because, it increases the possibility of (inner) transformation. It’s not that it is terrible to teach the practices without their philosophical roots, it is just shameful to lose such richness.

More in the Series:

Mirabai Bush speaks on Mindfulness and its application in Google (Part 1)

Mirabai Bush speaks on her stay in India and the Guatemala Project (Part 2)

Mirabai Bush speaks on Right Livelihood & Center for Contemplative Mind in Society (Part 4)

Mirabai Bush speaks about her root-teacher Neem Karoli Baba (Part 5)

Next Story

Westerners Adopt Indian Practices, Deny Giving Due Credits

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument.

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Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to protect our own heritage and Dharma. Hindu Council Of Australia

By Shashi Holla (WA) and Surinder Jain

Colonial or a white supremacy mind set may be clever enough to adopt Hindu practices but denies giving credit where it is due. Stealing Hindu Intellectual Property, they do not hesitate to rename and repackage so that they can sell it back to India for immense profits. Off course, they will leave no chance to tell Indians to stop their superstitious ways and to adopt the new scientific knowledge which “they” have “invented”.

Following has been already digested or appropriated by West. Some of the Western academics don’t believe that they belong to India.

Yoga Nidra   AS  Lucid Dreaming

Nadi Shodhana AS Alternate Nostrils Breathing

Vipassana  AS Mindfulness.

The latest addition to this list is

Pranamyam AS Cardiac Coherence Breathing

Several researchers have reported that pranayama techniques are beneficial in treating a range of stress-related disorders.[29] But the latest attempt has taken the appropriation too far. An American magazine “Scientific American” in its article titled “Proper Breathing Brings Better health” termed “Pranayama” as cardiac coherence breathing. (15 January 2019). The article gives us an idea about how West is so sophisticated in stealing knowledge from ancient cultures particularly Hinduism.

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Man doing Yoga. Wikimedia Commons

Prāṇāyāma is mentioned in verse 4.29 of the Bhagavad Gītā.[11] According to Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is, prāṇāyāma is translated to “trance induced by stopping all breathing”, also being made from the two separate Sanskrit words, prāṇa and āyām.[12] Pranayama is the fourth “limb” of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga mentioned in verse 2.29 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[14][15] Patanjali, a Hindu Rishi, discusses his specific approach to pranayama in verses 2.49 through 2.51, and devotes verses 2.52 and 2.53 to explaining the benefits of the practice.[16] Many yoga teachers advise that pranayama should be part of an overall practice that includes the other limbs of Patanjali’s Raja Yoga teachings, especially Yama, Niyama, and Asana.[18]

“Pranayama” a department of Yogic science practiced and documented 5000 years back ( even 15,000 years back) by Rishis is not even acknowledged by the author of the article. If one read the article they vaguely suggest that breathing exercises also existed in China, Hindu and in Greek culture.  This is how appropriation of ancient techniques takes place by West.  As Sankrat Sanu an entrepreneur, researcher and writer put it in his tweet “after erasing the origin they claim it as their own invention, attack original traditions as Superstition”.

As famous Indian American Author Rajiv Malhotra summarizes: “The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”. Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to  protect our own heritage and Dharma.

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The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”.  Pixabay

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument. West has created an eco system and mechanism in which their knowledge system is Well protected and patented by international norms. Unless West does not give a new name and fits into their framework native wisdom is not recognized in academia and media. Whereas Hindus were generous in sharing their health techniques freely from millennium never thought they will struggle in proving things which belong to them. In fact in a westernized framework of Yoga and other techniques Indian scholars, insiders and practitioners are blatantly ignored. So our own knowledge will be repackaged and exported back to us at an extra price and conditions.

Also Read: Climate Change Will Melt Vast Parts of Himalayas: Study

Many of our practices are being called to be Biofeedback systems. According to WikipediaBiofeedback systems have been known in India and some other countries for millennia. Ancient Hindu practices like yoga and Pranayama (breathing techniques) are essentially biofeedback methods. Many yogis and sadhus have been known to exercise control over their physiological processes. In addition to recent research on Yoga, Paul Brunton, the British writer who travelled extensively in India, has written about many cases he has witnessed. (Hindu Council Of Australia)