Yoga Journeys
Where my Gong Meditation Began

This was my essay for yoga teacher training -- Osten Aune

“Yoga is Life Changing” is a bold statement that some may overlook with a little dismay and distain. But yoga can change every aspect of your life from the mundane to a spiritual epiphany. For yoga is more than just an exercise for health vitality and maintenance. Yoga permeates your body, mind, enlightens spirt, your soul. Yoga may become a closeness with God, connection with all people and with all of Creation.

Yoga is a counterbalance to today’s stress filled, hectic, fast-fast multi-tasking lifestyle. Often our mind (our monkey mind- a monkey that has been stung by a bee. –Brahma  is obsessed with the future, we are planning our to-do-list! Or we may be dwelling in the past, past mistakes, failures and heartaches. We are often like a video in fast-forward or fast rewind. Yoga is like pushing the “Pause Button!” In yoga we pause into the “present moment,” what is right in front of us right NOW! We look for everyday miracles in our lives.

“There are only two ways to live your life.
One is though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
-Albert Einstein

Everything is a Miracle by Osten Aune/Bible Basics
God's Miracles In Our Everyday Lives
Music: "Angels in America" by Thomas Newman

“Those who are blind may feel
that if they could recover their sight
they would be dwelling in paradise,
but we who have good eyes rarely take the time
to appreciate that we are already in paradise.”
- Thich Nhat Hahn

“People usually consider walking on water
or in thin air a miracle.
But I think the real miracle
is not to walk on water or thin air,
But to walk on earth.”
- Thich Nhat Hahn

“Walk as if your feet are kissing the earth.”
- Thich Nhat Hahn 

Thich Nhat Hahn Quotes.
Inspirational meditation nature video
with the Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hahn.
Osten Aune/Bible Basics... Layers of Understanding

To the casual observer of yoga, it may seem silly to focus on breathing, awareness focusing on your breath. After all breathing is automatic, we breathe from the first day of our birth. We can breathe without thinking about it, we can breathe in our sleep. So, what is so special about breath awareness and breath control? We may not notice, but in our hectic lifestyle we often breathe shallowly and fast. We literally don’t stop to take a breath. Shallow high-chest fast breathing is inefficient and unhealthy. A man breathes approximately 15-breaths per minute. That works out to 900 breaths per hour and 21,000 breaths for a 24-hour day! Creatures that breathe slowly tend to live longer than those with a rapid breathing rate.

 Our breath takes oxygen through the body’s respiratory system and transfers the oxygen through our hemoglobin (carries the oxygen in our blood) to our circulatory system, through the bloodstream to every cell in our body! Yogic breathing may add more hemoglobin to our bodies! Oxygen is necessary to clear and relax the body and mind.

 Yoga helps to cleanse and purify your mind as well as your body. Yoga has broadened my mind. I have been introduced to Thich Nhat  (the Five Wonderful Precepts,10 Selfless Precepts, Eightfold Path), Thomas Merten and Mary Oliver’s Snow Geese.

"Oh to love what is lovely and will not last."
Inspired by the poem:
SNOW GEESE by Mary Oliver.
Music by Deuter.
Created by Osten Aune/Bible Basics... Layers of Understanding.

Thich Nhat Hahn "The Five Wonderful Precepts" by Osten Aune/Bible Basics. Spiritual, inspirational, meditative video lesson. The Five Wonderful are truly wonderful ways to live your life too the fullest. Incredible wisdom from Thich Nhat Hahn: A Vietnamese monk, a renowned Zen master, a poet, and a peace activist. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1967, and is the author of many books, including the best-selling The Miracle of Mindfulness" and "Living Buddha, Living Christ." ENJOY!

Yoga penetrates your ethics, moral compass and your actions.

“Our actions are our only true belongings.”
- Thich Nhat Hahn

In yoga, our bodies are our sacred temples that must be maintained and kept clean.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit,
who is in you, whom you have received from God?
You are not your own
therefore, glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

John Wesley the founder of the Methodist Church quoted in a sermon in 1778, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” Cleansing and purifying the body and mind comes into a practical practice through yoga.

Often exercise and diet are a war of willpower and often fail to bring their promised advertised results. How often do people fall of their exercise and diet plans? Yoga is not a war of willpower!  Yoga is working in cooperation together with your body and mind to bring stress relief, calmness and equanimity. Yoga rewards your body with more energy, rest & relaxation, fitness, weight control, stress reduction, health maintenance, physical therapy, and becomes a comprehensive lifestyle habit and spiritual tradition.

 Most yoga classes are filled with a diverse class of men and women of all ages, shapes and sizes, ethnicities, students of all skill levels. Each student has their own personal physical limitations of muscle strength, endurance, height and weight. Lack of sleep and stress may affect your yoga workout. No Problem! In yoga you begin where you are. In yoga whenever you fall out of a posture (and everyone will fall out of a posture!) In yoga you are always given “Grace,” you do not need to judge your performance, be kind to yourself. Be aware of the posture and simply “Begin Again.” You may never be able to start over, but you can always “Begin Again!” Don’t judge where you fell out of the pose, it will just be a distraction luring you away from your focus. Aggravation (increasing you breath rate and blood pressure) thus making the posture more and more difficult, which can be discouraging.

 With “Begin Again” you are kind and forgiving of yourself. You give yourself Grace and Forgiveness, you let it go and move on. Some days you’re Hot; Some days you’re Not! We do not puff ourselves up with pride with a good series of postures and you don’t beat yourself up with depression when you fall out of a posture. You want equanimity in your yoga practice and in your daily life practice, living life in balance.

 Eight Winds of Prosperity/Decline, Honor/Disgrace, Praise/Censure, Pleasure/Suffering.onorHo

 No matter what your skill level may be from beginner, intermediate, to advance each student begins where they are! All levels need to be reminded not to reach beyond their range of motion! Don’t let your Ego talk you into over-reaching into pain and injury. In yoga we listen carefully to our bodies and our breath. What is your body telling you? Does your body warn you of aches, pain and sore joints?

 Your body may be telling you that you need to modify a posture to avoid pain and injury. As we get older our joints stiffen and our muscles have less flexibility. We even lose bone mass. You may not be able to do a Forward Fold and touch your toes, then try to reach your ankles, calves… Grab whatever you can grab safely! Due to an injury or pain your body may tell you postures to Avoid!

Yoga is about living in moderation. Moderate diets that encourage you to eat healthier without going hungry. Yoga is not about contorting your body into a pretzel! Hatha yoga is a slower paced, methodical, moderate exercise postures that rewards your body, bones, muscles and joints…. Flexibility does not come over night but over time.

 Yoga and Meditation truly s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s your muscles, your mind and exhilarates your spirit. Stress drains your energy and health making you more susceptible to illness. Through yoga stress melts. Stress does not magically disappear! You refuse to run away from your problems, you begin to face your fears! You begin to approach stress with resilience and confidence. This mental strength strengthens your immune system translating into better health and energy.

Good health is more than the absence of disease!
Good health is also about being HAPPY!!!

My daughter Jennifer has been with me from the beginning of my Gong Journey’s adventure. Jennifer taught herself yoga strictly from books and videos. She looked amazing doing these yoga postures. I was soon turning 60 and I felt I needed to do something about my health. I was overweight and often out of breath and tired. I came to the realization that something had to be done! Jennifer encouraged me to practice yoga with her and so I did. I loved it! I enjoyed most of the postures even though at times I though she was trying to torture me, but slowly I improved into the poses.

 Later at my church, Arapaho United Methodist Church in Richardson, Texas I began taking lessons from Shelly Niebuhr a graduate of Aura Teacher Training. Shelly brought to the class the breathing breath control, (the missing puzzle pieces) that had been missing from my previous yoga practice. With the breathing aspects, prana, focal points and concentration entered into my yoga practice, the Yoga slowed down, became more comfortable and relaxing. Uncomfortable poses like “Pidgeon” became one of my favorites. More and more the poses became the same as prayer. Example Warrior One is more that just a majestic stance; it may become a prayer with a mantra:

I lift mine eyes to the mountains—
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of Heaven and Earth.
Psalm 121:1-2 NIV

Getting Stronger
Getting Better
Every Day 

Yoga is about focusing our awareness. Awareness is our connection to the present ‘Here and NOW!’ For the present moment is fleeting:

No man ever steps into the same river twice,
for it is not the same river
and he’s not the same man.”

The more you focus on your breath the more you become aware of the universal breath of the universe. (This has expanded my concept of God; God is larger, bigger….) The more you focus inwardly, the more you become connected to God, everyone and everything… all of Creation.

We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.
-Thich Nhat Hahn

In Christianity, “Salvation” is not reserved exclusively for after death. “Salvation” is being in a Right Relationship with God. Enlightenment is being in a Right Relationship with God, the Universe, being One with the universal Prana-Life Energy that is within us, surrounds us (Holy Spirit) and is in all people, creatures, all things even minerals.

Peace Within me
Peace Surrounding me
Peace from me
By thy Grace
Let there be Peace
Ajeet Kaur 

When I first started to take yoga, I was very naïve and unsophisticated. I was not familiar with Eastern traditions or culture. At the end of class, the class repeated a dedication. When the class repeated “Namaste,” that is not what I heard and understood. I heard “on this day.” Only later after a little embarrassment I began to understand the true meaning: “The sacred in me, respects the sacred in you,” “I recognize the sacred in you and I bow and give respect to the sacred in you.”

Namaste is more than respect; it is a connection of sacredness with one another. Yoga brings us a connection with all people, all creatures and all of Creation. This “Oneness” makes us more empathetic towards others, to love all of Creation, to work to perfect and cherish all of Creation.

Yoga works to give our lives more meaning and works to be our moral compass. We always dedicate our yoga practice at the end of Yoga Journeys Meditation workout; for yoga is not just for our benefit alone but also for the benefit of all people, creatures, all of Creation.

May all beings be happy and free.
May all beings transform their suffering.
May all beings rejoice in all joys.
May all beings be at peace.
- Namaste

The more you look inwardly, the more you discover the great “Out There!” Prana Life Energy is within each and everyone of us, surrounds us and the universal “Out There.” This life energy is always available to us if we can just calm our bodies and minds to contemplate, meditate and connect with the universal prana life energy.

As a Christian I call this Life Energy as the Holy Spirit.

“Really hearing the bird sing. Or really seeing the blue sky, we touch the seed of the Holy Spirit within us.” -  Thich Nhat Hahn

By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet.  – Thomas Merton

Gong Journeys Meditation
Spotify Playlist
By Osten Aune