We have a bit of a dilemma. It has to do with time. We are now ready to move the discussion on into the next area of advanced yoga practices. The question is, are you ready?
"Yes," you say, "I want to read about it."
The dilemma is not so much in the reading. It is in the application of the knowledge, how to go about that.
The lessons being written here are the result of decades of experience in yoga. It will take six months or so to fully describe for you how to do the most important advanced yoga practices, and what their effects will be. Once the writing is complete, you will be able to read it all in just a few days. Obviously, it would not be advisable for you to begin all of these advanced yoga practices in the time it would take you to read about them. It would not be possible. Each stage of practice requires a substantial period of acclimation before the next stage can be successfully entered. If one tries to run before they have become reasonably adept at walking, there is a strong likelihood they will fall flat on their face. This is also true in taking on advanced yoga practices. A gradual build-up is not a luxury -- it is a necessity.
So, that is the dilemma. Having received all this powerful information on the front end, how will you build up your practices in an appropriate manner over time? It boils down to finding what your unique time line will be, your pace, and being methodical about building up, being careful not to take on too much at once. Everyone is different and has a different capacity for taking on new practices. You will have to find your own pace, your own time line that is progressive for you, yet stable.
The challenge used to be in finding the knowledge. Here, the challenge is in applying it as expeditiously as you are inspired to without overdoing it and falling off the wagon, so to speak.
In the old days, it was said that it was better to receive powerful spiritual techniques lifetimes late, rather than a minute too soon. Practices were doled out sparingly over long periods of time on an individualized basis. This hardly fits with the face-paced, mass-market information age we now live in, where, in many fields, new applications of knowledge supercede the old every few years.
There is a need to speed up the transmission and integration of the knowledge of advanced yoga practices. It needs to be simplified and codified in ways that will bring it into the mainstream of this scientific age. It has to be turned over to the people, and the people must decide how it will be applied for practical benefit for present and future generations. It must happen, or the methods of transmitting this knowledge will remain in the dark ages, and few will benefit. The world can no longer afford to be without effective and freely available methods for unfolding the inner nature of humanity.
There are those who say, "Do not throw pearls before swine." Two thousand years ago this may have been good advice for those who had spiritual knowledge. If they were open in its dissemination, it was likely they would be attacked by an angry, superstitious mob, and executed soon after.
Today, we need a more open approach. We stand at an important juncture in history. Can we continue to sit by and regard the human race as a mob, as swine, undeserving of the knowledge that will transform it? No. Humanity is more than that, and deserves to have the means to experience its true nature. It is time for change.
We stand on the edge of a massive shift in human awareness. Its consequences exceed the realization centuries ago that the earth is round and not flat, and that the sun is the center of the solar system and not the earth. The realization occurring in the present is that the interior of the human being is the center of divine experience, of God, and of truth. It is not somewhere else. External experiences, whether they appear divine or not, are but mirrors of the internal experience of the human being. Every human being is a window, a portal, from this world to the infinite, and from the infinite to this world.
These lessons give you the most important tools of human transformation, the means to open the portal in you. The decision making on what practices to do is in your hands. It is no different than applying any form of knowledge. We are all familiar with learning to apply powerful technologies prudently and beneficially – automobiles, household machinery, modern medicine, electricity, the unlimited information of the internet… We can use these things effectively within a reasonable learning period. This is an instruction manual on advanced yoga practices. Wise practitioners will know what to do with it. Others will let it go by, and it will incubate for a while, which is part of the awakening process also.
The knowledge is here. It is suggested you take it in. But don't act on it all at once. Take it one step at a time. Become comfortable in a practice before you add on the next one. The more we evolve in our practice to a comfortable routine, the easier will we be able to take on something new. It takes time.
We have already added cross-legged sitting to our meditation routine. Have you been making good progress with that? We are about to embark on a new leg of the journey – pranayama. Pranayama will evolve into a complex practice with far-reaching effects. We will build it up with simple, logical steps. Even so, if you are uneven in your meditation practice, and trying to get in cross-legged position at the same time, taking on pranayama will be too much for now. Way too much. So wait until the meditation and crossed legs are stable. You may be one who skips the crossed legs altogether. That's okay. Still, be sure your meditation is comfortable and in a steady routine before taking on pranayama.
This message of taking it gradually will be repeated over and over again as we, in very few pages, step though eons of powerful spiritual knowledge designed for opening your inner doors.
The dilemma of timing will be resolved if you respect the power and delicacy of this knowledge, and apply it responsibly in your life. It is recommended you err on the side of sticking with regular, stable practice. Always consider carefully before you add a new practice. If you overdo and feel instability, back off to your last stable platform of practice. There you can regroup and take your time considering the best way to move ahead.
Meditation is the core practice. With it alone you will go far. Everything else is designed to enhance the process of meditation, to enhance the flow of pure bliss consciousness through the body and in the surroundings. If it is only meditation you are interested in, it will be enough. If you are interested in more, there will be plenty for you here.
The guru is in you.
Note: For a detailed discussion on the structure and pacing of self-directed spiritual practice, see the AYP Eight Limbs of Yoga book.