Pasaquan – a journey of spiritual imagery

“The devil went down to Georgia, he was lookin’ for a soul to steal
He was in a bind cuz’ he was way behind and he was willin’ to make a deal”
. . . . Charlie Daniels Band.

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The Georgia Guidestones
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A mural of the Christian Cross

I took a trip down to Georgia. I was soul searching on this trip. This journey was my effort to connect with a couple of the spiritual edifices of that region. I visited the Georgia Stones and the Pasaquan. I enjoyed visiting both places. The Georgia Stones were a rather stoic place. They were stones arranged on top of a hill. There were exposed not only to the elements, but also to the ravages of limited human perception and appreciation. Poignant messages were inscribed upon and around them. Visiting the Pasaquan was like taking spiritual a journey through the mind of a man. This man, Saint Eddie O Martin, had assembled various concepts and images from different spiritual and religious origins. His assemblage was presented in the forms of various murals, castings, totems and mandalas.

If one has any religious or spiritual leanings, that extend beyond the barriers of their particular belief system, they would greatly appreciate what is contained within the bounds of the Pasaquan. Murals are images, which may or may not encompass various themes (i.e. countrysides, seashores, religio-spiritual concepts, etc) that are [typically] painted on a wall. Castings are realistic images various forms (human or animal) that are done in plaster, bronze, pewter or the like. Totems, are typically large, carved representations of deities or spirits that are stack one atop another. Mandalas are diagrams (painted, drawn, inscribed) that represent patterns of energy and often serve as a focal point for the spiritual venues of concentration, contemplation or meditation.

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A Mandala made of Beads

I experienced a sincere sense of reverence for the work work that was displayed within thee walls of the Pasaquan. Saint Eddie O. Martin and other artist undertook the task of depicting concepts and forms that would resonate with visitors and clients and would serve as a focal point for varying stages of concentration. From what I could tell, there were works that referenced Abrahamic faiths, Buddhism, Yoga, Toaism, indigenous religions, etc. I was only able to spend 4 – 5 hours at this site but I could have easily stayed there for the whole day.

What was really enjoyable about being at the site was that there was no ONE religion or spiritual system being promoted over any other one. Being at he site was like being exposed to the idea of how religion and spirituality could co-exist. I observed displays that represented various inspirational sources; all of them were carefully crafted. There was no spot on the grounds that did not contain or display some type of religio-spiritual reference. Walking along the grounds allowed me to reflect upon my spiritual leanings and to more concretely meld them into a cohesive whole.

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Sculpture of plaster – Representations of Kundalini and Suns

Whatever one’s particular religio-spiritual leanings might be, it is always good to explore the bounds of the particular belief system. Jesus walked across the water during the tempest to the boat in which the disciples rode. Peter wanted to come to him. Jesus said to Peter, “Come”. However, Peter’s faith, focus, belief was not enough to sustain him on this unfamiliar surface so Jesus bore him up. When we are grounded in what we profess belief in, nothing should be able to alter that belief. Many who express belief in this or that system are loathe to explore other systems. Yet, when the core of a certain belief system is compared to the core of another system, there really is not enough difference between them to be concerned about. My trip to the Pasaquan established my belief that all religio-spiritual paths originate from “The ONE SOURCE”.

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Totems with various spiritual symbology

To Breathe or to Breathe Fully, LFSB

Intense Seated Forward Bend
This pose is great for taking breath into the backside of the body. Even so, there must still be breath going into the front side of our body as well.

Breathing exercises, that utilize long, full, slow breaths (LFSB), provide benefits that enhance the gains obtained from conventional, western exercise. LFSB, as is encouraged through the practice of yoga, tai chi or meditation, allows for maximum oxygenation of the blood and the ensuing, corresponding development and exhalation of carbon dioxide. During exercise, the actions of skeletal muscles, and associated physiological processes, require that fresh oxygen (O2) constantly replace carbon dioxide (CO2) in the lungs. O2 supplies fuel for the bodily processes that supply energy.

Some of the benefits of LFSB include:

  • Slows the heart rate – the heart rate slows when the parasympatheric nervous system is operating.
  • Full diaphragmatic breathing increases the ratio of O2:CO2. Normal inhalations result in a 1:1 ratio. Full diaphragmatic inhalations create a 5:1 ratio. Thus, more O2 can be absorbed into the blood.
  • Normalizes blood CO2 levels – full exhalations facilitate CO2 build up in the blood. This triggers and facilitates maximal uptake of O2 from the following inhalation.
  • Reduces blood pressure – Dilation of venous-blood vessels decreases venous-blood pressure. This allows a slower heart rate and more efficient blood flow/O2 transfer.
  • Reduces stress – Breathing deep, full inhalations and exhalations, synchronizes CO2/O2 blood levels and produces a natural autonomic relaxing effect.
  • Increases the health of lung tissue – The lungs are completely expanded and contracted during deep breathing. This maintains the elasticity of the lungs, especially as we age.
A very relaxing pose. Good for relieving tension in the ankles and for taking breath into the front of the body.
This pose requires hip flexor length and good opening in the knees. It is a great pose for allowing breath into the front of the body.

Conventional exercise (Running, Tennis, Basketball, Weightlifting, Gymnastics, Aerobics) focuses on developing (1) the external muscles and (2) the body’s ability to make O2 consistently available in the presence of an O2 debt. In a totally complementary manner, LFSB exercises help develop the ability to fully expand the lungs, which is beneficial for maximal absorption of O2 into the lungs and into the body and contract the lungs, which exhausts CO2 from the lungs and increases blood CO2 concentration. LFSB exercises also provide a natural massage for the internal organs which has a beneficial and rejuvenating effect on the physical, physiological and psychological processes. This can greatly benefit the vigorous exerciser.

LFSB training is a methodology. It can shift the autonomic nervous system away from fight or flight (sympathetic) mode into a more relaxed state (parasympathetic). LFSB inhalations and exhalations have ‘been shown to positively affect immune function, hypertension, asthma, autonomic nervous system imbalances, and psychological or stress-related disorders‘ (Jerath et al., 2006). Jerath and colleagues add that investigations, regarding stress and psychological improvements, support evidence that deep, full breathing alters the brain’s information processing, making it an intervention that improves a person’s psychological profile.

intense twisting posture from a standing position. Ground through the rear foot and initiate the rotation from the rear ankle, rotating the rear leg outer hip down toward the ground and spiraling the torso.

LFSB exercises can enhance the benefits gained from vigorous exercise. The physical aspect of western exercise is good for muscle strengthening and development of aerobic capacity. LFSB practice benefits the body on the physical, physiological and psychological levels. Studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of LFSB. Breathing to finish that mile run is good; breathing fully to assist the body in processing O2 more efficiently will provide long lasting effects throughout one,s life.

Some techniques that can be employed to develop one’s LFSB capacity is to breath full inhalations and full exhalations at a rate of 4 breaths per minute. As one’s ability improves, the rate can go to 3 breaths per minute, then 2 breaths per minute, and then one breath per minute. This practice should not exceed a period of 15 minutes and should be done no more than twice per day.

Please consult your physician before attempting any of these practices.

Happy Breathing


References

http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/Breathing.html

http://naturalhealthperspective.com/resilience/deep-breathing.html

Yoga and Health, Yesudian and Haich, Harper and Row; pg 67

Mind and Body

Flowing
Moving like a gentle wind, crashing like a rogue wave.

What is Mind-Body? From a fitness standpoint, Mind-Body is a combination term used to denote activities which bring about the harmonization and synchronization (HnS) of the mind and the body. Such activities are ‘usually done slowly’.

All physical activities involve cooperation between mind and body. However, conscious awareness of how the mind and the body cooperate with each other is the defining quality of mind-body activities. Every aspect of the activity is consciously carried out with awareness and complete inner reflection.

Take some time to vary your workouts. Incorporate some mind-body into your series of regimens. Mind-body will not hinder your workouts as much as it can enhance them. To consciously connect with the actions that engender our everyday movements can be, for some, the most tedious of tasks. However, when this degree of awareness becomes part of our repertoire, it can positively reverberate throughout the rest of our lives.

These positive reverberations come about because of the HnS of mind and body. The HnS of mind and body goes beyond mere physical activity. Mind-body disciplines allow our movements and our breath to be a reflection of each other. We develop the awareness to the degree that continual adjustment and refinement takes place during the activity. Through the practice of mind-body, we teach ourselves how to ‘BE’ in our bodies.