Tag - jill lowy

The Mystical Experience of Enlightenment

by Jill Lowy

Do you see the light?  Enlightenment is one of those terms that mean a lot of different things to many different people. In the Yogic, Buddhist and Mystical traditions, one of the primary goals in meditation is enlightenment. Enlightenment is notably characterized by the story of the Buddha. Before Buddha was the Buddha, he was known as Siddhartha, which very interestingly means, “One who achieves his aim”. The story goes that Siddhartha was a prince having been born into a royal family. He was raised in wealth and luxury. He knew very little about life outside of the palace or about the lives of the common people. When he became older, he wanted to learn more about his kingdom and the people who lived there. He began to travel and learn about the pain and suffering of the many people around his village. He became disillusioned about the life of royalty and began to search for truth. He learned various meditative practices and after many years, experienced enlightenment. Enlightenment is basically the English translation of the Buddhist word, bodhi; which also means to awaken or to know. Buddha means “One who has awakened”. To be awakened is to become completely transformed to the ultimate level of reality where there is no dualism, no pleasure or pain, no suffering and no ego. One has become liberated and no longer tied to the wheel of samsara or the cycle of birth, suffering, death and rebirth.

The Yogic tradition also embraces the goal of enlightenment. Patanjali, who is considered the Father of Yoga, maintained that the final goal of yoga was liberation from samsara through moksha. Moksha is derived from the Sanskrit root, muc which means to “let loose” or “release” and is the liberation from all illusion, suffering and pain. Moksha is the release from the worldly conception of the self or the ego, and the realization of the true nature of the self (self-realization). It is an experience of bliss and joy that is no longer tied to pleasure and pain, and where normal duality is transcended through union with God/Spirit. Patanjali outlined an eightfold process whereby the Yogi can achieve moksha through purification and meditation. The final steps consist of deep meditation into Samadhi where the individual transcends the limitations of the ego and merges into the Infinite source of all being.

The mystical practices of many different religious traditions talk about enlightenment. Enlightenment is derived from the Latin word, illuminare which means “to make light” or in our case, “to make light within”. Enlightenment is considered a mystical experience whereby one perceives inner truth or divinity. There are many different accounts on the experience of enlightenment. From Christian mysticism, where enlightenment is the experience of direct union with God (Of course, Jesus; St. Paul ,St. John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart, Thomas Kempis….) to Quaker mysticism where one experiences the inner light of God within the soul, to the Hermetic Tradition where initiates are taught to expand their consciousness to God consciousness, to the mystical revelations of the Sufi Tradition, to the Kabbalistic mysticism of the Jewish religion and to the Taoist mysticism of Lao Tzu.

In my own meditative practices, I have had many experiences of illumination. In deep meditation, I can actually see through my inner eye or vision, a subtle light that illuminates from within. It is like someone has turned on a light bulb inside my head which radiates all around me. (It’s interesting that many Christian saints are depicted with halos around their head indicating the divine light) There have been meditations where I have experienced this light and later opened my eyes thinking; ‘maybe it is the sun shining in through the window’. But it was not the sun or any kind of exterior lighting, but the inner light. I have spoken with many mystics who also have experienced this inner light. I think it is connected with the process of enlightenment, but not the goal of enlightenment. Although I have had many mystical experiences, I have not experienced the bodhi of Buddhism, the moksha of Yoga or the divine union with God in Christian mysticism. I do know that this experience exists from deep within my soul, but I have not experienced it directly. So I think that enlightenment is really a process. Through different meditative, mystical and religious practices, we can come closer and closer to the real goal. And that goal is actually not a goal at all (although a goal while you are going there), but is the realization of All that is or Divinity or what the Hindu’s call, Om Brahma Smi, translated, “I am one with God”.

For a complete listing of Christian mystics, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_mystics, also see: http://www.rainbowbody.net/HeartMind/Yogasutra.htm, http://www.katinkahesselink.net/other/enlightenment.html, http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/m/mysticism.html.

About the author:
Jill Lowy was born near Chicago, Illinois. She received her BA Degree from Wisconsin University, MA Degree in Psychology from Illinois Institute of Technology and a Master’s Degree in Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School. She was initiated into the Spiritual and Esoteric Arts at Lotus Temple. She was also initiated into Kriya Yoga under the lineage of Paramahansa Yogananda. Jill has been practicing and teaching Yoga and Spirituality for many years. She has given many lectures and workshops. Her recent book To Jill with Love, Memoirs of a Modern Day Mystic contains stories of spiritual inspiration after being initiated into the mystical arts. Her first book Yoga and the Art of Astral Projection is about how the discipline of Yoga can help one to experience astral projection and expand one’s consciousness towards self- realization Jill currently resides near Denver, Colorado with her boyfriend, Paul in the Rocky Mountains. She works as a Counselor and her hobbies include: hiking, motorcycle riding, traveling, skiing, swimming, scuba-diving, and Tai Chi.

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Four Steps Toward Peace

by Jill Lowy

STEP ONE: DO RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS

The first step towards peace in your life is to practice random acts of kindness. Believe it or not, by helping others, this will help you to achieve peace in your own life. What are “random acts of kindness?” It is any act of help or kindness for somebody else without any thought of something in return. These acts can be as little as a smile to someone, helping others in distress, being there for a friend, shoveling the walk for an elderly neighbor, etc.

By helping others to feel good, you will be helping yourself to feel good and to be more at peace. The world needs more peace. We need more peace! And I do not mean just the kind of peace that is free from conflict, because this leads to boredom. I mean the kind of peace that fills one with joy and makes us appreciate everyone and everything around us.

STEP TWO: FIND YOUR CENTER OF STILLNESS

It has been said, “Round and round the chaos goes, and in the center, peacefulness knows.” Actually, I made this up. It is a take off on the old saying, “Round and round the secret goes and in the center, the secret knows.”  But it illustrates my point. Have you ever been on a merry-go-round? I think most people have. I used to love them as a child. Anyway, all merry-go-rounds revolve around a fixed point. Without that fixed point in the center, it would not work. It is very interesting. The center is at rest, while the circumference constantly changes. Our perceptions or rather our experiences are like the merry-go-round. They are constantly changing. But at the center of it all, lies peace. When we are feeling agitated or disturbed, we are at the circumference of our merry-go-round. The trick is to learn to change our perception to the center. One way to do this is to visualize yourself at the center of the merry-go-round. Watch your emotions as they whirl around you. Then begin to feel your inner self move to the center of peace and stillness. We all have this inner stillness. We could not exist without it. There could be no experiences of any kind without a center of stillness. So find a way to contact your inner center of stillness. “Be still and know God” the Bible says. Many people find that center through meditation, faith, nature, etc. But find your own path that leads to peace and stillness at the center of your being.

STEP THREE:  FORGIVENESS

This can be a toughie. Many of us carry around hurt and pain from previous relationships and even previous lifetimes. It can be very difficult to find peace in your life when you carry a lot of unresolved hurt, pain and anger. And it can affect everything that you do and everyone that you meet. You must find a way to let go of all your pain and frustration, or any resentment that you may carry. Why are you still holding on to it? What good is it doing for you? Sometimes it takes time to heal. But there is a very fast way to let go of all hurt and pain. Jesus said it best “forgive them for they know not what they do”. Forgiveness is the cure to unresolved pain and hurt. Even if you are the cause of it all! Learn to forgive others and yourself. Once you learn to forgive, then you can learn to let go. Once you can let go, then you can find peace. It is very easy to say, but very difficult to do. Some of us have suffered tremendous pain and abuse in our lives. But the road to peace lies in forgiveness.

STEP FOUR:  LOVE OTHERS AS WELL AS YOURSELF

Step Three and Step Four are actually interconnected. If you truly love others, then you will forgive them. It doesn’t mean you may approve of their actions, but you will forgive them their transgressions. A Mother loves her children even when they are naughty and tries to guide them in right action. The Divine loves all creation. It shines like the sun to everyone and in everyone. We can open our hearts to it or close them as we choose. Peace comes to those who open their hearts to love. It is the strongest force in the Universe. The Jewish greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart and soul. Jesus added the second commandment to “love thy neighbor”. And it is definitely the harder of the two commandments. I think it is easier to open your heart to God, but to your neighbor? That is a different story. We tend to fight with each other like crazy on this planet. And over the dumbest things! “Hey, asshole the light turned green, get moving!”; “I was here first! Get behind me or I will kick your butt!”; “Don’t let your dog piss on my yard!”  Everyday we assault and are assaulted by each other. “Loving your neighbor” does not seem to be a prevalent theme here on planet Earth. But it is the path towards peace. If you can practice “loving your neighbor” then you will begin to experience peace in your own life. Learn to love those who hate you. Why? Because it is a more powerful force that brings peace. Is it easy to do? No way! I think it is one of the most difficult things to do. But leaders like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi were able practice it in their daily lives. We can do it, too! Start in small ways. Give peace to others by your smile and your friendship. Pray for those who may hurt you. Wish others well in their endeavors. Be happy for other people’s happiness. Try to be a good neighbor and open your heart to other people. You will be amazed at the peace that will come into your life!

Jill Lowy is the author of: To Jill With Love, Memoirs of a Modern Day Mystic and you can visit her website: wwwTheAstralYoga.com.

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Yoga and the Art of Meditation

There could be no art without the imagination. It is essential to the creation of any work of art. Our ability to imagine is what allows us to participate with God as co-creators on this planet. Everyone has the ability to imagine though some people are better at it than others. What many people are not aware of is that the imagination can be developed through Yogic practice.

Yoga is an ancient spiritual practice that can help one to develop the mind through the imagination. Yoga also helps to develop one’s creativity which can help one to become better at their Art. Yantra Yoga is a branch of Yoga that utilizes the powers of visualization to develop ones’ creativity. There are many visualization exercises in Yantra Yoga which uses the imagination to picture various colors, shapes and sizes. For example one of the visualization exercises is to picture a red triangle in your mind. Take a moment right now and visualize a red triangle in your mind. Can you see it clearly? It may be difficult at first but with practice you can clearly visualize a red triangle in your mind. After one becomes adept at visualizing a red triangle then you can move on to other shapes such as a yellow square, green crescent or a blue circle.

One interesting practice is to look at the place where you are right now. Look at the objects around you. Now close your eyes. Can you still see the scene clearly in your mind’s eye? By practicing these basic visualization exercises you can improve your imagination and your creativity as an artist.

One of the most interesting artistic practices that I have seen is the Tibetan Sand Mandalas. This meditative practice has its’ foundations in Yantra Yoga. I have had the privilege to participate with some Tibetan monks in the formation of a Sand Mandala. The Tibetan Sand Mandala is a sacred art form utilizing ancient Yantra Yoga principles. Every color and shape represents certain divine creative energies. The Tibetan monks tap into these divine energies as they create the Sand Mandala. What I find very interesting is that the final creation of the Sand Mandala is not important as the process itself. After the Sand Mandala is finished, it is dismantled. They do not save it. It is the process or formation of the Sand Mandala that is important. This is quite a different orientation than the majority of people in the West. Most people tend to value the finished artwork as what is important or valuable. But for the Tibetan Monks, it is the process of creation that is most valuable. I think that we need to learn to appreciate that the process of creating art is just as important as the finished art itself.

Yoga can help us pay more attention to the process of creativity through the practices of Yantra Yoga and Meditation. Yoga is more than stretching of the body in different poses called “asanas” that we see in Hatha Yoga. Yoga is a pathway to improving both your mind and body. Yogic meditation brings peace of mind and self-realization which is really the ultimate art form. Art is the expression of our creativity. Yoga brings Art to its’ fullest expression by revealing the divine nature within each of us. God has created this universe like a portrait that we live and breathe in. We are born like an empty canvas and we paint it with the various experiences throughout our lives. How is your life being painted? If someone could look at your painting, what would it look like?

Art is the act of creativity which uses the wellspring of the imagination. What a beautiful world this could be, if we would take the time to imagine it.

Jill Lowy is a local author who recently completed a new book, “Yoga and The Art of Astral Projection” and her website is: www.TheAstralYoga.com.

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Spontaneous and Consciously Directed Astral Projection Experiences

by Jill Lowy

I had my first spontaneous astral projection experience back in the fall of 1975 in Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin:

“One moonless dark night, I had just curled up in my
sleeping bag. I had just begun to drift off into sleep
when suddenly I found myself outside the tent, kind
of walking/floating around in the dark. I became alarmed
and felt really disoriented. I could not figure out how
I had gotten outside the tent and what I was doing there.
I cried out for my cousin who was in the tent sleeping.
But he did not hear me. I went into the screen tent
looking for help. I yelled as loud as I could and in the
next instant I was back in the tent dripping in sweat
.”

This experience was not a dream, and was my first encounter with our innate ability to leave our physical bodies. My experience shook the foundations of my belief about reality. I started to question my normal perceptions about life and began to investigate the mystical arts. I studied yoga and learned about meditation.  Later, I was initiated into Lotus Temple where I learned about the esoteric and mystical arts.

Following my initiation into Lotus Temple, I began practicing Astral Projection techniques that were based on ancient yogic teachings. After several months, I had my first fully conscious astral projection experience:

“I had been practicing the astral projection technique
for about thirty minutes when I felt myself falling
asleep. I concentrated on maintaining my awareness
while allowing my physical body to fall asleep. I
continued to practice the technique and visualized
myself leaving my body. I then felt a sudden inrush
of energy and knew something was beginning to
happen. I tried to maintain my calm as I could feel
the energy moving faster and faster. Then suddenly,
I was moving through a tunnel like a freight train.
I let myself flow with the energy. I felt my astral body
twisting away from my physical body which was a
very strange sensation. Then suddenly I was free!
I had a feeling of ecstasy. I began to float around my
room and spent time closely examining objects on
my dresser. I picked up a wooden pentacle that I had
made with the four elemental colors. The vibrancy of
the colors was striking and the wooden grain was more
beautiful than I remembered. I hovered over the dresser
mirror where I looked at myself. I appeared to be like
a ghost without much definition. I then decided to
return to my body and with that thought immediately
found myself back in my physical body. I noticed a
strong current of energy still swirling around my palms.”

This was my first consciously directed astral projection experience. It was much different than my first spontaneous astral projection experience that I had back in Wisconsin. During this astral projection, I was conscious from the very beginning, when I began to practice the astral projection technique, until I returned to my physical body.   I was very elated, following the experience and I felt a sense of joy several days afterwards.

During my spontaneous projection, I had felt scared, disoriented and really thought I was losing my mind. My consciously directed projection was totally different. During this experience; I felt elated, calm, and almost euphoric. There were no feelings of disorientation or fear. I was much more in control during my conscious astral projection and more in tune with my surroundings. I was completely aware that I was projecting; I could see my physical body lying in bed and it did not cause me any fear or alarm. During my spontaneous projection, I did not know I was astral projecting. Although, I was aware of my surroundings, I didn’t know what was happening to me and just wanted to return to normal.

I think the differences between spontaneous and consciously directed astral projection are very important. For most people, I think spontaneous astral projection is just a disorienting and interesting phenomenon. Whereas, consciously directed astral projection is a broadening of one’s consciousness and self understanding.

I know many people that have experienced spontaneous astral projection. Many of them, found the experience very threatening to their sense of self, and for the most part, never wanted to have that experience again. I also know other people who have experienced consciously directed astral projection. They see the experience as a chance for exploration of the inner planes or consciousness. I find it interesting that most people who practice consciously directed astral projection have a much more positive experience and see it as an opportunity for self discovery.

In summary, spontaneous astral projection is when there is a separation between the physical and astral body that just happens without the subject’s control. It may be characterized by feelings of disorientation, fear, anxiety, helplessness and lack of control. Consciously directed astral projection is when there is a separation between the physical and astral body that is directed by a subject’s will, through meditative or other yogic techniques. There may be feelings of ecstasy, joy, well-being and awe. It is generally more of a positive experience with self-control and less feelings of disorientation or helplessness.

For further information or to contact me, email at my website: www.TheAstralYoga.com or read my book, Yoga and the Art of Astral Projection.

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