Monthly Message 
Message for November 2001:

YogaBetsy Yoga Center Discourse 1:
Brian Afton

Note: This discourse was given at the first High lodge session on the evening of November 3, 2001.  Thirteen individuals were present.

  Tonight we are holding the first High Lodge session at the yoga center. There is a mental dimension to yoga we do not touch upon very much during our regular classes which we will explore tonight.  This is not to be confused with religion.  There are key differences between discussing the mental aspects of yoga and religion.

  In the first place our sessions contain no dogma.   In the second place you will never be asked to accept anything on faith or to declare allegiance to this organization, or any personalities here, or anywhere else.

  Our classes are not here to take the place of your religion, or to be a new religion but they will help you to understand your own religion.  Most religions of today have lost their roots.  Their connections with the esoteric traditions and teaching have long since been severed. 

  As you come to understand yourself by taking yoga you will also discover that you are learning more about the external world as well.  Ultimately, that knowledge will help you to understand the esoteric or secret wisdom of your own faith in ways you never did before.

  Tonight we will briefly consider your bodies energy system.  We speak of the energy system and the energy centers often in class but tonight we are going to progress beyond the realm of faith into the realm of knowledge and experience. 
We are going to do some very simple demonstrations and make some observations which should prove to you that it does exist. 

  The yoga chart in the corner of our lodge is a schematic diagram of the energy system showing the main energy channels and the seven main psychic centers.  One of the ways you can demonstrate to yourself that this system exists is by using the medium of music.

  Music effects your energy system and psychic centers.   This is why we start our meetings with vowel sounds.   You may not have considered it before but music can have a profound effect on your body and state of mind.  There is an old poem which expresses that sentiment precisely: 
“Timethous with his breathing flute and sounding lyre
could swell the soul to rage or kindle soft desire.”

  It is because our bodies are so profoundly effected by music that the best performers can play an audience’s emotions as surely and simply as they play their instruments.  It is also the reason that the best of our performers have always been the most admired and respected members of society. 

  In simplest terms: You are wired for music.  You probably have not considered it in this light before but if I take this singing bowl on my table and strike it the sound will go right straight though you.   You can feel it resonate in your energy system though you may have never realized what was going on until now.
Any sound will stimulate it, but certain sounds do so far more effectively than others, as for example the vowel sounds we started this meeting with.
If you sing the chant AUM,  you will know when you are doing it on the right note because your entire body will resonate with it.

  As a point of note this is sometimes pronounced as OM.   In our language this is equalivent to the word:  AMEN  though that term is generally used improperly by most churches to mean “so be it”. AUM essentially means GOD in Sanskrit.

(demonstrate the vowel sound aum)

  The energy system is key to an understanding of yoga and to releasing the potential power in your body.  There are other ways of stimulating it besides using music.  Yoga exercises will also do this.

  You may have heard the story of Gutama Sidharta and the middle path.  One day Sidharta overhead a music teacher talking to his student about a certain kind of violin.   The teacher advised the student that if the string was too loose it would not play, but if it was too tight, it would break.   This observation turned Sidharta down what came to be known as the middle path and eventually lead to his becoming someone known to history as “The Buddha.”

  Your own body is not unlike that musical instrument.  It needs stress and pressure in order to accomplish what it does but it must be stress of the proper amount and kind. 

  It is very difficult for anyone who has not done yoga properly to understand what an important concept that is.  They may observe someone doing what appears to be an incredibly difficult posture and wonder what could possibly be accomplished by doing that.   Unfortunately, the postures which look difficult are by no means the ones which are the most difficult and moreover, these postures are not the objective of yoga at all,  though it appears that they are to non-students.
  These postures stress the body, in some cases mightily.  The body struggles with this.   The student strives to maintain proper breathing and balance and, improbable as it might seem, eventually the response to stress becomes automatic.  The body learns to deal with it without tearing itself to pieces.

  Yoga not only conditions the body,  it actually improves your ability to function under stress.   There are also some other important changes that occur as well.
In our regular classes we cover the physical aspects of yoga fairly well, but there is a mental aspect too.  As your nervous system and energy system is refined and strengthened your world will expand.  You are going to start noticing things you did not notice before.  You will hear things you did not hear, you will see things you did not see, you will understand things you did not understand before.

  In general these are all very positive things, however all of this can have results you were not planning on.  If this energy is not directed in a positive and constructive way it can, in effect, turn on you.

  A classic example of this can be found in the case of a person who has quit smoking.  Most smokers do this many times.  When they do their energy system springs back to life.  Ironically it is often that very surge of newfound energy which starts them smoking again.  They don’t know what to do with this energy.  If they did they would never have started smoking in the first place.

  Everyone recognizes the fact that their body can do work.  It can be used as a machine to create and develop and to literally bring things into existence but very, very few people realize that their minds have the same capacity.
The energy system we have been discussing has both a material and an immaterial aspect.   It is in the concluding part of our regular classes that we deal with the immaterial aspect in our meditations.   In these exercises our students are taught to relax and focus. 

  The importance of being able to do this cannot possibly be overstated.  It was no less of a personage than the Master Jesus who said:  “As a man thinketh so he shall become.”    People do not realize the importance of this concept.  A thought can actually alter the structure of your brain.   When you watch a movie, for example, these images enter your memory and physically change your brain.  In a certain sense that movie is now part of what you are.

  In a broader sense where you keep your mind will determine what comes to you in this life.   We do not have time to discuss these ideas more extensively now but in the weeks and months ahead we will have more detailed discussions about the individual energy centers and what each of them does.   We will look forward to seeing you there.

 Copyright 2001 Brian Afton 2822 Grover Rd Olean, NY 14760