In Yoga, “practicing the presence” is accomplished through the mystical method of repeating yogic breathing and yogic mantras for the purpose of ushering the devotee into “oneness” with cosmic consciousnesses, the eastern understanding of god or divinity, often referred to as the “divine spark”, believed to be synonymous with all nature. The idea of god/divinity IN all is known as pantheism, that god is IN all that is material, but panentheism says the divine permeates everything including all eternity, concluding that all spirituality and all spirits are divine and acceptable.
Caryl Matrisciana of Caryl TV and producer of videos such as Wide Is The Gate recently answered a letter about practicing the presence and Breath Prayer, a contemplative prayer from eastern religions. Sadly, it is the same technique that Saddleback’s Rick Warren, through his Pastor’s Toolbox site, recently encouraged thousands of pastors to teach to their congregants. Here’s why these New Age practices are so incredibly dangerous:
Q: Dear Caryl – We have a friend who recently left the catholic church and joined a community church that is into breath prayers. Is there a sensitive way to show her that this is really from the desert fathers and is part of the emergent church? She is like most people and will not read a lengthy article, but needs to know that using Biblical words as the breath prayer does not make it right. Thank you: Rick
A: Thanks Rick for your inquiry. I’m not sure there is a “sensitive way” as you ask, to tell someone they’re involved in pagan rituals or gnosticism which have the power (through mind altering states) to give a supernatural experience.
Any such methodology to merge with the spirit world is in opposition to the Biblical prayer model God revealed in Scripture. Nowhere after Pentecost do we read of Paul encouraging believers in “breath” praying.
Why all of you are connecting with any psychic powers (ESP) breath techinques? Everyone, who is growing spiritually without using NONE of breath techniques even once, only by becoming yourself. Pure psychology and help of God for a person fully believing in God and Jesus. There is not only a long story of cases, that psi abilities are NATURAL abilities of everyone of us (see Dale Graff “Stargate: Tracks in the psychic wilderness”, children having imagined friends who are not imagined only souls, mothers having premonitions that something will happen to their child, same as almost every person having such a premonition in their life not to go somewhere, twins brothers or twin sisters knowing telepathically what the other thinks same as parents and children having such a bond. You also have animals being able to see souls or predict catastrophes. Intuition is a natural part of humans and animals and whether you go the wrong or the bad way while growing spiritually depends ONLY ON YOU. Haven’t you ever heard on mystics and saints? They also were spiritually developed and used psychic abilities , which are natural for everyone of us. And which you mix with suprenatural powers, such as e.g. healing, which only God and Jesus can give to somebody as a gift. Why you see evil everywhere? If so, yo have to invalidate Einstein’s achievements, because he was also using more his intuition than rational thinking. You are saying as if it were in the middle ages with not known then solar eclipse, that it was a God’s punishment. Growing spiritually is connected with that part of us which we yet not fully know well our subconscious mind. And there, if not being attentive, some people may meet some not good entities. But it is only because everyone are avoiding the topic by writing that a spiritual growth is all evil. Say it to the saints and mystics, of you really believe. If you believe God and Jesus, it is the highest form of development towards being a better person. Such as Jesus asked everyone of us and where Gods give us trials and challenges to deal with them.
The new age is invading the church world with all sorts of eastern ideology and practices. They come repackaged with Christianese terminology so as to be more easily digested by the church. Contemplative prayer and practices are made up of this. It is to be avoided like a curse. Those who engage get swept deeper into apostasy via ‘doctrines of demons’ and so on.
The only way to be reconciled to God, who is separate from His creation, is through the cross. Jesus opened the way and we must take Him up on the offer. When we do, we get saved and have fellowship, a relationship with God. We then get the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and God does communicate with us. But that is what the bible teaches and is legitimate. “My sheep hear my voice…” and so on. Their version is counterfeit, heretical, a false religion seeking to bypass the cross. That is the difference between them and Christianity. We only have access to God through accepting the atonement of the cross. They deny that.
As a mature Christian and yoga instructor, I have been reading as much as I can on the Biblical perspectives of yoga. What is of concern to me is that I have YET to read correct statements about the teachings of yoga. I read misinterpretations and downright WRONG definitions of terms like “om” and “namaste”, and NO ONE has mentioned one of the most important principles of yoga: you take what serves you, and leave behind what does not. Everyone’s practice will be different – just as our bodies are – based on where they are in their journey, and what their needs are. A key principle is to STOP comparing or trying to emulate someone else’s practice, as comparison feeds pride or envy, and takes away one’s focus from what one needs to learn for him or herself. This is why traditional studios don’t even have mirrors; while great for allowing one to confirm proper alignment, it tempts students to look at what others around are doing rather than focusing on their own practice.
As an instructor, I focus on helping my students maintain control of their breath as they improve mobility, flexibility and strength. I open each class with an intention or “word of focus” rooted in scripture; I then close the class with a personal sharing on why I chose that intention/word, and how it applies to what I am personally going through which allows me to share my faith. My music is all instrumental Christian music, albeit contemporary or hymns. How has this been received? I have yet to have a class where a student doesn’t come up afterwards and say they were moved by my sharing and would like to hear more, or want to know about the music that was playing (the instrumental versions of I Can Only Imagine, How Great is Our God, and Better than a Hallelujah tend to be student favorites).
That being said, I’m open to discussion on what is “wrong” with my current practice or instruction, but can we at least start with CORRECT statements about the teachings and principles of yoga?