Archive | October, 2016

Lunar Power & Full Moon Meditation

14 Oct

The sight of a Full Moon in the night sky strikes you with awe. Its mesmerising. Its romantic. It has inspired poets and writers over thousands of years. Most of us see it by chance – but its a calming and soothing effect to connect with the moon on a Full Moon Night in tranquility , by yourself or in a group of like minded people. Its pure coincidence but most of my holidays seem to happen during the Full Moon phase ( The effect of the full moon is there is 2 days before and after the Purnima) – and I have spent long hours staring at the moon  from a mountain,  a riverside, a calm peaceful resort or a beach in solitude

Since the Sumerian, Ancient Hindu and Chinese Civilisation the Lunar calendar has been in force and many of the popular festivals like Holi , Buddha Purnima, Guru Purnima, Guru Nanak Jayanti, Karthik Purnima are celebrated on full Moon days. Buddha was born on a full moon day. His renunciation took place on a full moon day. His Enlightenment, the delivery of His first sermon, His passing away into Nibbana and many other important events associated with His life-span of eighty years, occurred on full moon days.

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A lot of stories , facts , myths are associated with the moon – and one should follow their own belief and faith as scientific data may be limited.

A lot has been written about how the Moon impacts the human body and that makes an interesting read for believers.

Some scientific data on how the Moon was formed and its impact on Earth 

The moon was formed ~4.5 billion years ago, about 30–50 million years after the origin of the Solar System, out of debris thrown into orbit by a massive collision between a smaller proto-Earth and another planetoid, about the size of Mars.

The Earth would be a very different place if the moon did not exist. Not only did the Earth slow down the Moon’s rotation, but the Moon is slowing down the rotation rate of the Earth. Since the moon’s formation, the Earth has been slowing its rotation due to the friction of the tides caused by the moon, and in reaction to this exchange of energy, the moon has been moving farther away from the Earth. In fact, at the time of the moon’s formation the Earth rotated much faster than it does today; a day on early Earth was only a few hours long. But the Moon, being small in relation to Earth, will take more than twice the age of the solar system to slow Earth’s spin rate to the Moon’s orbital rate.

Gravity – Lunar Tides 

Tides are created because the Earth and the moon are attracted to each other, just like magnets are attracted to each other. The moon tries to pull at anything on the Earth to bring it closer. But, the Earth is able to hold onto everything except the water. Since the water is always moving, the Earth cannot hold onto it, and the moon is able to pull at it. Each day, there are two high tides and two low tides. The ocean is constantly moving from high tide to low tide, and then back to high tide. There is about 12 hours and 25 minutes between the two high tides.

Can a Full Moon impact the human body – How ?  

The effect on the Human Body by the moon is probably driven by the fact that 75% of what constitutes the body is water. Hence the force of Gravity during a full moon night tends to be more powerful. The contrary view to this is that water in the oceans and seas is not bound but the water within the body is bound hence the impact may not be the same. But grandmother tales talks about how the full moon is a time of positive opportunity if you use it correctly. It can increase your positive energy or conversely, it can wreak havoc on your emotions. Since the full moon pours down a tremendous amount of energy, you must be in a calm state of mind to receive a positive effect. Remember that whatever is going on in your body, mind and spirit will be amplified. If you are angry, you will feel angrier or if you are happy, you will feel happier. Crazy energy as well as loving energy will be intensified. Knowing this is a huge opportunity for your emotional and spiritual growth.

This is probably the reason that a group meditation of like minded people is beneficial on a Full Moon night.

Connect between Moon & Emotions 

Furthermore because of the moon’s astrological characteristics and effects on mind and emotions, often during the full moon period people tend to get more sensitive and often witness more emotional and relationship problems compared to normal times of the year. That is one of the reasons why insanity is also called lunacy ! Lunar & Lunacy have the same word root.

Moon in Vedic Astrology 

The Moon represents the mind and, accordingly, it indicates a person’s thinking, feeling, and willing processes. Emotions and sensitivity may be understood by the position of the Moon in a person’s chart. The moon’s nature is tender-hearted and wise. It rules peace of mind and gives a general sense of comfort and well-being. The Moon reflects understandings and sense of purpose, intuitive ability, sensuality, love for fine arts, music and jewels. It also rules our moods, emotions and sensitivity. A powerful moon gives emotional strength, makes for good relationships and love for others. It will give good intuition, purpose to life, an attraction for the fine arts and make a person attractive to others.

If the Moon is weak in the chart you may be subject to mental anxiety. There may be emotional instability and an inability to relate well to others. If badly aspected, the Moon can make one unfriendly and unable to share intimacy, or will cause you to lack contentment or peace of mind. An ill-placed Moon may make for inclinations to moodiness and feelings of depression, with an unclear mind. Depending on how severely afflicted it is there may be a tendency towards neurosis, hysteria, or insanity. It can make a person feel a lacking of joy or satisfaction, therefore bringing about acute realization of the sufferings felt in this material world. There may be indications towards ill health of the mother, or difficulties in social advancementIt is very good to meditate on a full moon day.

Gemology claims that Pearl is to be worn to strengthen Moon in the horoscope. It has an extremely calming influence on the mind and increases feelings of love, and compassion for other people. The pearl may increase peace of mind and enable the practice of spiritual meditations with greater concentration. PEARLS SHOULD NOT BE DRILLED. They should be set only in silver, so that the pearl comes into contact with the skin.

Kundalini & The Lunar Connect 

Nadis are the astral tubes made up of astral matter that carry psychic currents. The Sanskrit term ‘Nadi’ comes from the root ‘Nad’ which means ‘motion’. It is through these Nadis (Sukshma, subtle passages), that the vital force or Pranic current moves or flows. The body is filled with innumerable Nadis that cannot be counted. Different authors state the number of Nadis in different ways, i.e., from 72,000 to 3,50,000. Again Ida, Pingala and Sushumna are the most important of the Nadis. The pingala channel is the carrier of solar energy. It is full of heat and drive. It begins on the right hand side of the Root chakra and ends in the upper area of the right nostril.  The ida channel is the carrier of the cool and calming lunar energy. It begins on the left hand side of the Root chakra and ends in the left nostril.

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Pineal Gland – Bindu Chakra & the Moon Effect

The Pineal Gland has been the source of much research in Yogic and Medical science. Its considered to be located in the Bindu Chakra that is at the back of the head – directly in line with the centre of the forehead.

The symbol of the Bindu Chakra is the MOON; therefore it is also known as Chandra Chakra (Moon Centre). In the inner Cosmos, which is seen by our inner eye in meditation, the Bindu Chakra appears to have a circular opening with a lid almost completely covering it, and from this some light shines forth through a small gap. This glimmer of light that is the emanation of the radiance of the Self in the Sahasrāra Chakra is similar in appearance to the slender crescent of the new moon. If the Bindu Chakra is fully awake and open it shines brightly with a silvery sheen, like the Full Moon.

The moon is a symbol of perfection, nectar and energy. Nature receives life-sustaining Prāna from the moon allowing everything to grow and thrive, as moonlight is also essential for the growth of plants and the ripening of fruit – not only sunlight.

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In most Yoga books the Bindu Chakra is not mentioned, but in Tantra Yoga great importance is attached to the healing and rejuvenating effects of this Chakra.

Whilst this energy centre “sleeps” it is similar to a dot, but when awakened its energy begins to flow or to “drip”. The Bindu Chakra produces truly astonishing effects. It is a “health centre” that brings about improved physical, psychic and spiritual health, and is therefore a valuable aid on our spiritual journey. It also helps to quieten our emotions and brings harmony and a sense of wellbeing.

With the help of this Chakra we are able to control hunger and thirst and overcome unhealthy eating habits.

Concentration on the Bindu Chakra can also be beneficial for depression, nervousness, feelings of anxiety and an oppressive feeling within the heart. A slight pressure with the fingernail on the site of the Bindu Chakra gives rise to a spontaneous feeling of happiness that spreads to the heart. When a child is restless and will not go to sleep it helps to gently massage the Bindu Chakra with soft circular movements for a few minutes – the child will soon become quiet and sleepy.

But the most outstanding effect of the Bindu Chakra is the production of AMRITA, the nectar of immortality.

At the beginning of the Peace Mantra it is said:

ASATO MĀ SAT GAMAYA
TAMASO MĀ JYOTIR GAMAYA
MRITYOR MĀ AMRITAM GAMAYA

Lead us from unreality to reality
Lead us from darkness into light
Lead us from death to immortality.

On the physical level this means that with the awakening of the Bindu Chakra the Pineal Gland, which is connected to this centre, becomes active. This gland emits a hormone that has a “fountain of youth” influence on both body and mind. This is why the Rishis gave it the name “Amrita”, nectar of immortality. The more active the Bindu Chakra becomes, the more plentifully this precious Amrita flows. It is said in the ancient scriptures that just one concentrated drop is sufficient to make new shoots grow on a piece of dry wood, and bring the deceased back to life.

In Āyurveda this life-giving nectar is known as Sanjīvini Bhuti . There are Yogis who eat no food and are nourished exclusively by the nectar from the Bindu Chakra. If we were able to utilise this life elixir for our body we would not only prolong our life but also enjoy perfect health. But, unfortunately, this precious nectar normally drips straight down into the fire of the Manipūra Chakra (Jatarāgni) and is burnt before its effects develop. Through certain Yoga practices we can be successful in catching the drops of nectar in the Vishuddhi Chakra and supplying the body. The Vishuddhi Chakra is responsible for the purification and detoxification of the body if an imbalance occurs in the body due to harmful substances.

In the Gheranda Samhitā (Verses 28-30) it is written:

“The Sun is in the navel and the moon in the head. The nectar that comes from the moon is consumed by the sun, and the life force is gradually used up in this way.”

Here the moon stands for the Bindu Chakra and the sun for the Manipūra Chakra. Because the nectar from the Bindu Chakra is constantly being destroyed in the fire of the Manipūra Chakra our body is susceptible to illness and continues to deteriorate with advancing age.

In fact the Ātmā is immortal, but in this earthly existence we are bound to the mortal body. Only in this very fragile body can we attain spiritual realisation and liberation (Moksha). Therefore Yogis endeavour to keep their body healthy for as long as possible to enable them to complete their spiritual development in the current lifespan.

And this is why the Rishis, in ancient times, sought methods by which this valuable nectar could be gathered within the body and its benefits utilised. They found that they could control the flow of nectar with the help of the Vishuddhi Chakra and the tongue. The tongue possesses subtle energy centres, each of which connects to a specific part of the body or organ. Udāna Prāna, one of the five main Prānas (vital forces), works within the Vishuddhi Chakra and this Prāna Vayu activates the muscles in the throat that control the swallowing of food. Udāna Prāna also directs energy to the head. When the nectar is held firmly in the Vishuddhi Chakra and influenced by Udāna Prāna its effect is set in motion. The way it works is similar to Homeopathy; and like homeopathic medicine its beneficial effects are spread through the whole body via the outgoing energy channels in the tongue.

But how are we able to catch this precious nectar with the tongue? Through a technique known as Khecharī Mudrā , which is described in the Hatha Yoga Pradipikā. In this the tongue is rolled back as far as possible until the tip of the tongue reaches deeply into the Pharyngeal cavity. Then the nectar that drips down from the Bindu Chakra can be caught.

In order to be able to roll the tongue back far enough some practise is essential. Yogis achieve this by carefully stretching the ligament beneath the tongue, gradually lengthening it through gentle pulling. In this way the tip of the tongue can finally reach the Uvula.

The benefits of Khecharī Mudrā are strengthened when it is performed together with Ujjāyī Prānāyāma and Jālandhara Bandha (Chin Lock).

Ujjāyī Prānāyāma is a breathing technique with concentration on the process of breathing in the throat. The throat is contracted slightly so that the air flowing through it produces a soft sound, as in deep sleep. Through Jālandhara Bandha the flow of energy is briefly interrupted and the Prāna is held in the throat .

Another very effective practice is Viparitkaranī Mudrā , which has been translated as “The Energy Regeneration Pose” in the system of “Yoga in Daily Life”. The reason for this is that the nectar flows towards the throat in this inverted position and is therefore prevented from being burnt in the Manipūra Chakra.

In the Bhagavad Gita (15/13) Lord Krishna says:

“When I come onto the earth, I preserve all beings through my life-giving power. When I become the nectar-giving moon, I nourish the vegetation.”

The moon is the symbol of Lord Shiva, and the Mantra of the Bindu Chakra is AMRITAM – I am immortal. At the end of the Peace Mantra we sing the Maha

Mrityunjaya Mantra

Om Tryambakam Yajamahe |
Sugandhim Pushti-Vardhanam ||
Urvarukamiva Bandhanan |
Mrityur Moksheeya Maamritat ||

OM my adored One, the three-eyed Lord Shiva , who is omnipresent

May He nurture us and bless us with health
May His blessings liberate us and lead to immortality.

This Mantra is known as MAHĀ MRITYUN JAYA MANTRA – the glorious Mantra of victory over death.

May the light of Shiva fill our consciousness. May the nectar of immortality spread through and expand our inner space (Chidākāsha). Through this nectar all Chakras are brought into harmony. Fear, sadness, anger, resentment and other disease-producing emotions are released in the healing vibration of this Mantra. May it spread fragrance, melodiousness, love, happiness and contentment through the entire world.

( In References section visit the Video that has a music at a certain frequency that activates the Pineal Gland)

Chandra Namaskar 

In Hatha yoga, the first half of the word hatha i.e, ‘ha’, refers to the sun or fiery energies, while ‘tha’ refers to the moon or cooling energies.

Although, the Chandra Namaskar can be done at any time of the day, the best time to practice this asana is in the evening, around sunset, when the moon is up. Just as mornings are good time for sun salutations, evenings are best for moon salutations.

Benefits of the pose

Practise of moon salutation on full moon days can help in balancing fiery energies and helps in calming down, if you feel stressed, hyper-excited or over-stimulated. It helps channelize creative energies. Moon salutation is best practiced outdoors on moonlit night.

The physical benefits of the pose include stretching and strengthening of the thigh muscles, calves, pelvis, and ankles, mainly the lower body. It also helps activate root chakra. Moon salutation is beneficial to people under any form of stress. It helps balance your energy before you reach a point of exhaustion, as it is a quieting practice. In School of Yoga, it is practiced with a meditation at the beginning and at the end, and offers the option of chanting a different mantra related to lunar energy for each pose.

Among the specific health benefits of the pose are, it promotes balance, digestion, tones the spine, expands lungs and opens the Heart Chakra. It improves good blood circulation, keeps abdominal tract well regulated and healthy, stimulates spinal nerves, stretches leg muscles and back, cures sexual ailments and improves flexibility prior to childbirth. It also relaxes sciatic nerves, improves confidence, tones pelvic muscles, regulates functioning of adrenal glands, relieves constipation, anger, sciatica, helps in maintaining balance on both sides of the body, and helps develop a healthy sense of poise and respect for mind and body.

 

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Chandra Namaskar – Moon Salutation – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ci3_g2sSUOg

 

References 

http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2013/08/08/the-top-5-things-wed-miss-if-we-didnt-have-a-moon/

http://www.chakras.net/energy-centers/bindu

Trataka And The Amazing Benefits Of Candle Gazing

Chandra Namaskar – Moon Salutation – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ci3_g2sSUOg

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/fitness/Now-Chandra-Namaskar-will-help-you-lose-weight/articleshow/46505055.cms

http://www.encognitive.com/files/%22Melatonin,%20Menstruation,%20and%20the%20Moon%22.pdf

Taj Coorg @Madikeri – Embedded in Nature

12 Oct

When I start writing a blog the Title comes naturally – the Title represents in a few words the essence of what I carried back from the trip , but this time I struggled – there is so much to talk about at the Taj Coorg its difficult to capture it in a few words . This is both good and bad – good because there is so much to talk about and not so good because its missing its core positioning.

Coorg has transformed – 8 years back when I made my first trip to Club Mahindra the drive time was 4 1/2 hrs and the notable resorts were Orange County & Club Mahindra  – today the drive time from Bangalore is 6 – 7 hrs and there are many more properties and home stays that have mushroomed. With all the crowd you tend to stay away from the town and the sights outside and prefer staying in a resort – for that the Taj is a great property.

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The property at Madikeri is embedded in greenery. Its a 180 acre property (built up area of 30 acres) at an elevation of ~ 4500 feet on a lush verdant rainforest valley. The design is harmonious with nature and from every where – the lobby , restaurant , rooms you get an unobstructed view of the green , misty valley and the hills beyond.

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The property has 63 spacious rooms in 4 varieties (Superior Charm, Deluxe Delight , Premium Indulgence Cottage , 5 Pool Villas and the Presidential Suite) – We stayed at the Premium Indulgence Cottage – a well laid out 1400 sft room that could easily accommodate 2 adults and 2 children. Room rates are from 18 – 35 K / night inclusive of breakfast.

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The Main Lobby is an impressive building that rises above 200 feet , built in a simplistic Zen Design it has an aura of great energy balance . Its open, large, spacious and has an excellent view of the valley.

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This main complex  houses the plunge pool , a small activity centre , the well designed Jiva Spa that offers a wide variety of treatment including some that are very local (Gudda Bath) and a well equipped Gym. The plunge pool is a big hit – its a heated pool with a mind boggling view of the rain forests and hills – and the kids never want to leave its premise.

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Rooms are designed along the hill slope so a walk up to the main lobby / restaurant can be a tad tiring – but the electrical buggy service is always around to pick you up. The pavements / foot paths are concrete , well finished and have the stamp of perfection – so no fear of slipping on rocks and rubble as you walk up & down. img_0968

The best things to do here is soak in the nature and go for long treks. The hotel organises two good treks to the nearby hills – easy 2 hr treks. Our guide Abhishek was exceptional – very knowledgeable and friendly. The highlight was our discussion on the Kurunji Flower – the rare blue flower that blooms once in 12 years and covers the hill slopes ( that why the Nilgiris are called the Blue Mountains) – its famous in Munnar but close to the Taj the hills we trekked are also full of Kurunji Flowers – so Sep 15 – Oct 15 , 2018 you may want to book a package at the Taj Right now.

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(And if you are wondering whats the khaki covering on our shoes – those are cloth flaps for leech protection)

The restaurant is  multi cuisine – serves a wide variety of dishes form India, to Local , Continental – there are 4 restaurants FernTree , Nelliki (Local Cuisine), Grill (Outdoor BBQ) , Dew a Small health Food Cafe and the Hive Bar – but we ended up going to the main one Fern Tree most of the time. Service & Food is good and dinner for a family of 4 is about INR 200o – INR 3000 (Without Liquor)

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They have a few more activities – Sat evening Local Dance, Mountain Biking , Zip Lining , a well maintained but small conservatory, Pottery Studio , Baking & art classes for Kids , Archery , Virtual Golf ….  A large olympic size outdoor pool , an amphitheater for holding functions / marriages. 3G Network is available all across the property and Wi Fi at decent speed is also complimentary.

Unlike most properties in Coorg & Chickamagalur the Taj is not a coffee estate,  Its not a Spa /Yoga Retreat like Ananda or Shreyas or Swaswara, Its not a honeymoon Corporate Offsite location like Tamara – so the question – What is it ?

And thats the question I carry back with me – is the Taj Coorg becoming an upmarket Club Mahindra catering to the weekend family traffic from Bangalore – that would be sad and not doing justice to a property of this stature. Are noisy kids spoiling the peace and the harmony of the place ? Can you enjoy the divine view from the plunge pool when you have a few brats noisily tossing the ball around. Can you have a relaxed romantic candlelight dinner or a peaceful breakfast with a howling baby in the next table and a hassled mother desperate to calm it as the husband is busily taking photos.

We went on the Dushera weekend and the hotel was full – barring one Foreign Couple the entire crowd was Bangalore families with 1 – 2 kids each. I would urge the Taj to revisit their positioning and decide what is the clientele they would like to attract. Many properties today have a Kids above 12 only rule – maybe the Taj should explore something like that.

Running a property like this in the hills is not easy and the staff , the general manager do a great job …. but I would like to leave them with a  few suggestions

  1. Entertainment every evening – Live entertainment like light music , a Sat evening local dance is good but you need something 7 days
  2.  Nelliki needs something more than authentic local cuisine – its looking empty
  3. You need more restaurant space
  4. Too late but would have been good for the rooms to have been designed with a His / Her basin and a Powder room – with large rooms that can accommodate 4 , you need more bathroom space
  5. The Treks could be longer
  6. Yoga session starting at 8AM  is a no go – I normally attend Yoga sessions in all the properties that I visit but missed it out here – I don’t think you are attracting people who will do Yoga at 6 AM  – also with such an amazing property the Yoga sessions needs to be done outside in the midst of nature – not in a closed room
  7. I think you are underpriced – there are high end Homestay’s in Chickamagalur and Binsar that charge over 20 K / Night ( Primrose, Mary Buden estate etc) – yes its true that money does not buy class , but for a property of this stature if you want to target the right audience you need to relook at your rates.

As the friendly GM said – maybe I should come back when its not so crowded on a weekday , and I definitely will. Having been to Club Mahindra, Orange County, Windflower and now the Taj – I would strongly say that when it comes to the beauty of the property and the rooms – the Taj is the best in Coorg.

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Few More Snaps

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