Yogom is first of all Dungsey Gyetrul Jigmé Rinpoche’s expression of his wish to give to his students a practice to help sustain them on the path of meditation. Yogom is an especially formulated series of physical postures and breathing exercises that incorporates meditation as part of the flow. The practice is intended to lead the body and mind in such a way that they will work together more gently, and in particular, it is meant to help ease one into the lotus posture. The meditation practice which is used here is Shiné (Shamatha), and it is particularly effective in calming down the stress in our busy modern lives.
Thus the literal translation of Yogom is simply « yoga and meditation ». Gom means ‘meditate’ in Tibetan. The name is the inspiration and creation of Rinpoche. The connection between yoga and gom with the G illustrates perfectly how this activity gives back to yoga some of its original intent, which is ‘to still the thought waves of the mind’ from The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, opening verse. And although Yogom is directly connected with the teachings of Rinpoche’s lineage, the practice itself is non-sectarian, in order to be directly accessible to all. As a fresh expression of this ancient form of exercise, it renews its original purpose, and we are fortunate to have this opportunity of practicing yoga and meditation under such patronage.
Yoga in the West is usually more focused on its exercise aspect than anything else. This physical aspect, as a starting point, serves as a good anchor to focus the attention, which then helps one to move towards more subtle perceptions, when done consistently. There is a way of bringing particular attention upon the key-points of the postures, in conjunction with the breath, which serves as a wonderful basis to settle one’s meditation. Yogom cultivates and abides in this intention and attitude.
Rinpoche first asked if I could prepare a short series in order to help people before the Ngöndro practice. Then, he put forward the idea that if I could prepare two additional series, a middle one and a long one, for more advanced levels, it would be helpful to students. In this way there appeared, under his vivid inspiration and direction, the three series of Yogom.
The short series lasts half an hour. It is mostly used before Ngöndro, but if one does not have enough time, one can rely on it before a longer session of Shiné.
The middle series of one hour is split half and half, with thirty minutes on the physical aspect and thirty minutes on the meditation aspect. The middle series is used as the daily practice for Sutrayana retreats. Since Rinpoche wished to enlarge the diffusion of Yogom, this particular series is taught twice a week in Paris, to whosoever wishes. These sessions are the beginning of a new journey for Yogom.
The long series, which lasts about one hour and forty-five minutes, is divided into three parts. The long series has only been practiced by small groups of Padma Ling students, however it will be presented at the Sagadawa Festival, at the Ripa International Center, next Spring, and it will also be included in the next Sutrayana Retreat this coming Summer.
This long series is more complex, and is designed to help train the attention to stay in continuous and extended meditation, thereby assuring deeper benefit. The three parts constituting the whole of this last series received a name, each according to Rinpoche’s request : The first one, called « On the Ground », is meant to serve as a beginning, so that one’s progress on the path can be more supported and assured. The second one, called « Sky and Earth », begins to enlarge the field of possibilities, such as physical openness, in a natural way, as well as expanding awareness, and increasing the tempo of the movements. The third one, called « Space and Dance », introduces continuous movement and change, or continuity of body and an attentive focus, in moving and changing form, without pause. It is like the moment that a baby bird takes, with its first flight from the nest, similar to a dance, yet it remains within everyone’s capacities.
These are the three archetypal series of Yogom, with fixed choreographies, as a basis. As such they have received legal protection and they remain the property and trademark of the Ripa lineage. However, the complexity of physical channels, and the variability of mind, allows of course for innumerable variations. That will be the development and the life of Yogom, and in particular, the subject for the teaching of instructors.
I consider myself to be very fortunate to have received the blessing opportunity to participate at such a promising birth. I write this with the hope that the lotus will open magnificently, inviting as many sisters and brothers to sit, to listen, and to connect with the mind stream of the Masters, as possible.