Friday, June 18, 2010

Going into the Heart within the Caves of Ramana Maharshi and Arunachala

My time in the Caves of Arunachala, especially Ramana's Lover Cave, my favorite, was spent working with emotions. As I would slip into the deep abyss of meditation, blissful states would come and go, as would long-forgotten memories from my childhood. Numerous hours were spent simply 'being with what is,' and have enhanced my life beyond words. I discovered a life-changing technique, which I share extensively in my book 'Bringing Home the Mountain-Finding the Teacher Within.' By using the breath to move into the space of contraction, meaning feelings of constriction, painful or stifled emotional states, without avoiding what is experienced, we have endless opportunities to break through the painful barriers of separation to freedom. 


"I spent four hours on the Mountain, primarily in Ramana’s lower cave. 
I focused on experiencing my love for Ramana, feeling this love in the heart 
center. After focusing on my bodily sensations, and the ego identity 
of Cathy with all the stories, history, strengths and vulnerabilities, a 
profound deepening or widening of the heart center took place. 
There were no boundaries or restrictions to this space. I focused on 
giving loving attention to my body, where I could physically feel 
emotions that were constricted. Some childhood memories flashed 
in my mind of stifling tears and sadness, and needing to appear strong."

"I immediately sensed a narrowing of my throat and heart space, 
along with a growing physical sensation of anxiety. The anxiety 
seemed to be locked in my stomach and chest so that breathing was 
difficult. I invited Shiva, the deity of fire, to burn away this 
resistance, fully breathing in the healing energy that surrounded me. 
The results were extremely powerful. There was an even greater 
opening within my heart center, best described as freeing. A 
physical release had somehow occurred, letting go of an area of 
constriction that had been guarding my heart. I had not realized it 
had even existed until it was gone."

~Bringing Home the Mountain: Finding the Teacher Within

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Om Arunachala. The Mountain of my Heart.

Arunachala! Thou dost root out the ego of those who meditate on thee in the heart. 
~Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi 

It is difficult to explain the spiritual vibration of this 1,600 foot mountain, or sacred hill, called Arunachala. It is located in the Southern State of Tamil Nadu and is said to be part of the oldest mountain range in the world. Hindus believe Arunachala embodies the Hindu God Shiva; thus, it has been an important pilgrimage destination for over a thousand years. Ramana Maharshi first came to Arunachala as a teen following his awakening, and lived there until his death in 1950. This was the reason I had come, as Ramana's ashram is located at its base. However, it wasn't until arriving to Tiruvannamalai did I experience the intense energy of this mountain. My heart felt expansive and pounded with a primal force. I yearned to move closer, to fall into complete union. My gaze was entranced by its splendor, as though I had fallen instantly in love. I knew I was home. I had come home to my own heart. The Mountain and I were One. 

Bringing Home the Mountain-Finding the Teacher Within describes my first union with the Mountain, and the subsequent journey into the heart that began that day. 

"Today I am filled with such a peaceful, radiating energy. I feel at home here, as though I could spend the rest of my life here by the Mountain. Thank goodness, the Mountain is within me as the Self. The power of Arunachala is mysteriously beyond all understanding and words.”  ~Bringing Home the Mountain: Finding the Teacher Within

The Embrace of Mother India

The traveler is in search of the greatest adventure, the journey of self-discovery. 
“Why India?” I've been asked repeatedly why I am drawn to this vast country. India is the home of my heart, a country that makes me feel keenly alive. As a middle-class American woman in her forties I have been embraced by Mother India four times, joining the 2.5 million tourists a year that have chosen to visit this pulsing country. It's a land of abundant extremes. Garlands of jasmine and marigolds entice my senses to linger, while the ripe smells of trash and sewage propel me to the next scene of the moment. Yet, I am ever present with it all. No one is to blame if I don’t like something, if a plume of exhaust makes me cough, if a barking dog wakes me in the night, or if I am overwhelmed by what I see. All is experienced in the heart of who I am.With a population of 1.1 billion people, India’s endless hues and vivid scenes of humanity appear magically as if I am walking through a mirage. Sadhus, aesthetic holy men, draped in orange and white cloth, and Sikhs wearing bright turbans appear like surreal guardians in a whimsical, ageless arena of garnet and amber-tinged castles, ivory mosques, and chestnut temples which remain greatly untouched as the whiz of traffic create a cloud of frenzied movement. India’s beauty shines amid the scars of war and ambition, graced by the footsteps of Gandhi, countless scholars, the Dalai Lama, and many of the greatest Hindu and Buddhist teachers throughout the centuries, including the legendary Buddha. Modern development has taken hold like the scorching heat of an India summer. Though, the cooling monsoons protect the spiritual essence of India. The radiant heart of Mother India will remain a beacon for those who are drawn to come. For me, India's primal vibration awakens my heart, revealing who I truly am. 'Finding Yourself' happens by simply being present with what is, without trying to change anything. In the midst of everything arising within and around me, Truth is continually revealed. I am India, and India is I. This is the embrace of Mother India. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The beginning of the journey...

Many have asked me what inspired my first two trips to India. It is with a full and loving heart I utter the name, Ramana Maharshi. I have attached a link to my author's blog where I share select segments from Bringing Home the Mountain-Finding the Teacher Within, as Ramana often graces my book. I never thought I'd have a Guru, especially one that died sixteen years before my birth. Mysteriously, Ramana Maharshi has touched my heart as though his presence has always been with me. This connection led me to visit his ashram and the sacred mountain Arunachala. And with this first visit, the journey to awaken my heart began. 

Newly Released: Bringing Home the Mountain-Finding the Teacher Within

Written as a colorful spiritual story, I describe my spiritual search that took me to India, Nepal, and Bali. More than just a telling of my own path to awakening, I weave teachings from a variety of spiritual traditions to assist the reader begin or deepen their own spiritual practice. The book morphed out of spiritual journals I kept for years, which tracked the intimate details of my spiritual experiences and specific practices engaged in. It is written from the heart and I hold little back, exposing the struggles as well as key insights gained during my quest for enlightenment. I describe aspects of the spiritual journey and address specific barriers that keep many on the seeker train. These include understanding the nature of thoughts, the student-teacher dance, the movement of contraction and expansion, the path of devotion vs. the search for truth, mind and meditative states, and more. I have beginning to advanced teachings, and share insights freely. This book was especially written with the advanced seeker in mind, however there is plenty here to help someone new to a spiritual path. It is my greatest wish that 'Bringing Home the Mountain' finds those who can most benefit from its encouraging message. You are what you seek! Consciousness is ever present and is our very own awareness!

"Cathy Jonas’ exciting account of her spiritual journey, Bringing Home the Mountain, overflows with an abundance of experiences and insights. Any genuine seeker should find plenty here to both inspire and instruct on his or her own path to Awakening." ~Joel Morwood (author of The Way of Selflessness, and Naked through the Gate)

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May you enjoy it and find it helpful on your path,


A Spiritual Book for Awakening

Yes, that is a pretty big statement to make. However, Bringing Home the Mountain-Finding the Teacher Within reveals some of the most common spiritual roadblocks that keep many seekers from awakening to their true nature. By sharing my own experiences and spiritual path, I expose and dismantle many of these roadblocks including:

Giving Thoughts Authority and the sense of Separation experienced.

"The flow of thoughts does not change this presence of Truth.” ~Bringing Home the Mountain: Finding the Teacher Within.