Durgananda has been working very hard with Dr Carmel putting together a workshop about the heart. It has been tremendously interesting watching them compile and make so many connections between yoga and science. I have been helping. Yes, I know I’m only a cat but Natji says I have an extremely big heart and cuddles me whenever he can. So I know that my good feeling has been supporting the creation process. Did you know that they can now measure the electro-magnetic field that the heart creates? It expands and contracts depending on what the feeling is. My electromagnetic field must be ginormous as my heart feels so big sometimes.
I have also been learning a lot. When Durgananda leaves her notes out I read them. It turns out my way of reading notes is incorrect but, as it’s the only way I know how, I have no intention of stopping (but don’t tell Durgananda this). To get to the notes I have to jump on Durgananda’s desk. Then, I stand on them and try to absorb the knowledge. Patanjali talks about this in one of his sutras. It is called samyama. By meditation on an object you gain insight into it. However, I was having a bit of trouble learning the information this way so I took a more proactive approach. I grabbed the notes moved them to the edge of the desk, sat on one end of them and began to shred them. Piece by piece I ripped the pages into confetti size fragments hoping that, by deconstructing the information into smaller bite size pieces, I would be able to understand it better. (And as you many of you would well know, deconstruction is an important part of Melbourne lifestyle at the moment- it’s how coffee and many other food items are served these days.) A wonderful by product of this exercise was that I got to decorate the desk and floor in the most delightful, snow-like patterns.
I got into terrible trouble for this. Durgananda did not approve of my deconstruction! I was banished from the office while she cleaned up. I still don’t understand why. All I was doing was trying to learn and be involved. And I did learn some marvellous things. I learnt that the heart keeps me alive. It pumps oxygenated blood throughout the entire body. I really like being alive. I know that as a cat I am very blessed to have a birth in an environment where I can do my sadhana (spiritual practice). The yogis say that your karmas have to be perfectly balanced to be given an opportunity to progress spiritually. If you have too much good, worldly karma, you’re not interested in the spiritual path and if you have too much bad, worldly karma you’re too caught up in it to focus on spiritual growth. I must have purrfect karma.
I also learnt that the heart is like a little brain, it sends information to the brain and receives information from the brain and has its own nervous system and neurotransmitters similar to those found in the actually brain, which allow it to act independent of the brain. I thought this was amazing! My heart can feel, think and sense. It can learn and remember. This information has made me very inspired to learn more about the heart and its relationship with the mind and the rest of the body. The other thing I found very curious is that the heart has been described as a Gordian knot. I like knots a lot, they make for very good chewing and are most enjoyable things to play with, as they are usually attached to a string. A Gordian knot is a knot that seems extremely complex to unravel but when its secret is revealed it unravels with great ease.
In Sanskrit, knots are called granthis and we have three major knots that we need to unravel in order to attain svatantrya, perfect freedom. These three knots or contractions or entanglements are located in the navel, heart and third eye. The Brahma granthi, in the navel, relates to contracted will: wanting things and not being able to get them. I have to say I get a fair amount of contraction here about closed doors, including cupboard doors and just a general inability to do what I want when I want. But I have been meditating and burning up the excess energy here, in my navel, through my morning sun-salutes. The Rudra granthi is located in the third eye. I feel this contraction when my universe gets too chaotic and out of my control. I squeeze my third eye and stare adamantly at Durgananda to ease this contraction but it rarely works. I find when I lose my sense of wisdom and insight it is better for me to meditate and return to peace that way.
The granthi that relates to the heart is called the Vishnu granthi and I would really like to find a way to untie this knot that affects my heart. I feel if I could understand this part of me and discover how to untangle it I would find the freedom that I always long for. This knot relates to the initial feeling of separation I got when I was born. I think spiritually it is called my anava mala (not the pawsome mala I say my japa on) but my separation from my true nature. My true nature is filled with love and wisdom and always feels good but sometimes I forget this and my heart feels tired and lonely. Nevertheless, through spiritual practice I am sure I can overcome this feeling.
I am very blessed because I have been able to find a Swami mummy and a Natji. They are never separate from me. I can feel them in my heart even when they are not here with me. I think If I stay in good relationship with them (that is, I need to not bite them too hard when I’m cranky and to put up with those cuddles when I’d rather be playing) then I will be able to overcome any feelings of separation that I have.
In order to find freedom I think I will begin with unravelling as many knots that I can find. I am very familiar with knots and creating tangles and I will start with the knots I know and can see clearly. Durgananda has a fabulous knot in her knitting basket. Its large and round and has an end sticking out from it. It is a swami colour, pinky peach like the heart. I think I will go and examine this Gordian knot further and perhaps tug on that end that I can see. That knot has always interested me and now I have an extremely good reason to explore it further. I want my freedom and I will see if I can find the secret to it by unravelling that gorgeous ball of soft alpaca wool and in doing so unravel the knot in my heart.