Relationship of traumatic experiences and bhakti

    Wednesday, August 29, 2012, 9:48 AM [General]

    Q: Four years ago my bother and I were in a car crash. I survived and he didn't. After that my life was hell, filled with grief, guilt, anger and despair. Then something happened. I just couldn't take it anymore. I longed for an answer, and something let go inside me. Immediately, spiritual knowledge started pouring into my life, and I knew what I would do for the rest of my days. Your lesson on bhakti rings true with me, though my experience with it has not been gradual. It came suddenly out of my traumatized state, and my emotional state continues to move me forward rapidly. What are your thoughts on this?

    A: Traumatic experiences can often lead us to an awakening. While the sudden loss of a loved one can never be fully rectified by anything, if we are able to open, the process of bhakti will certainly try. The emotions are so huge that the slightest letting go, the slightest redirecting of emotional energy will have dramatic results. None of us would volunteer for such a mission, but in life it happens.

    When trauma happens, whether it is the loss of a loved one, a loss of health, or other serious dislocation in life, a cycle of grief will occur. It begins with disbelief, then can go into denial, then anger, and then down a long emotional slope into despair. For most of us, there is little control while this is happening. Then, at some point, there comes a letting go. It can be months later, years later, or decades later. Maybe a letting go doesn't happen at all for some. Everyone is different. When it does happen, this is a crucial point in the process. Crucial in the sense that emotionally we may gravitate back to some semblance of the way things were before the trauma. It is normal to try for that. Or, we may let go into a divine space, as you have done. That point in the grieving process is a kind of crossroad. 

    Again, it comes down to the first impulse of bhakti, that question: "Is there something more?" If that question is there in some form, emotional energy will rush into it. That question is a letting go, and the beginning of the manifestation of our ishta inside, our highest ideal. It is also the beginning of the manifestation of the guru, and responses are stimulated in our outer environment by it. 

    It is an opening, a receptivity, a letting go that enables the bhakti effect. As soon as we surrender our emotions to a higher purpose, they become divine energy rushing in. Traumatic experiences put us in a position where we may have little choice but to surrender, or face many years of misery. It is a much more clear-cut choice to make than considering the divine quest while engaged in the smaller ups and downs of mundane life in the work-a-day world. The truth is, every emotion is an opportunity for bhakti -- the very small ones, the very big ones, and every emotion in-between. The emotions will be there. The letting go may or may not be there. That is up to us. It is we who choose. 

    Having embarked on the spiritual path with a strong and continuing bhakti surge, you have found something sacred in your tragedy. Keep in mind that bhakti is powerful spiritual practice. Make sure to balance your practices to give the best chance for a smooth unfoldment of pure bliss consciousness and divine ecstasy. 

    The guru is in you.

    Note: For detailed instructions on employing desire and action on our spiritual path, see the AYP Bhakti and Karma Yoga book.

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    Bhakti - The science of devotion

    Tuesday, August 28, 2012, 9:32 AM [General]

    Devotion is the most commonly practiced yoga technique around the world, though it is rarely called "yoga." Devotion, the continuous focus of desire on a particular spiritual ideal, is so common that the world's great religions are called "belief systems" or "faiths," as if nothing else but that exists in spiritual practice. What is this thing called devotion? Why is it so important?

    The importance of desire was discussed early in these lessons, and has been mentioned often ever since. At first we looked at the purely logical aspects of devotion. If we have an idea about something, a vision of it, and an ongoing desire to attain it, then we have a mental and emotional vehicle that will enable us to act in order to get there. Considering a trip to a beautiful place called California was given as an example. If we never were able to imagine the place, had no knowledge of it, how could we ever decide to go there? So, first comes an image. Then desire merges into that image. Then action. Or maybe we have desire surging up first, undirected. We don't know for what. For something more. It latches on to one thing, then another, and then another. Finally it latches on to something big, a big idea: "Enlightenment." Then we set out for that, knowing it is the most we can attain. Desire is always looking for more. Desire is always looking for the biggest, the best, the most. All the desires that come up in us are divine in their origin, and seeking the greatest possible thing in life. Desire is the primordial form of the guru. Obviously, desire alone is not enough to get us there. It must be aimed in certain ways.

    Devotion is more than the simple psychological mechanism of placing an ideal in the heart and mind which we can then strive for. There is much more to it than that. Directed emotional energy, desire, has great power. The act of devotion, the act of desiring the highest ideal we can imagine, is a transforming power itself. It creates changes deep in our nervous system. If we have devotion for a high ideal, this alone will be changing us inside before we ever sit to do any pranayama or meditation, or any of the rest of the advanced practices. Devotion is the first yoga practice, the main yoga practice, and the fire that lights everything on the path. Without it, everything else we do is just going through the motions. Devotion to our highest ideal is the guru in action in us.

    Like all of the other abilities we have discussed here, devotion is a natural manifestation in our nervous system. It is the one that is most obvious, coming up in everyone in one way or another. Yoga methods work to stimulate and open up the natural abilities in us to full functioning. There is a branch of yoga called, "Bhakti" that is concerned with optimizing desire and devotion to the highest level of spiritual effectiveness. Having a basic knowledge of the methods of bhakti yoga, and applying them, can have a huge effect on the course of our spiritual life.

    Bhakti means, "love of God." If "God" is not the right word for you, use a phrase like, "love of highest ideal" or "love of highest truth." Whatever represents the greatest attainment you can imagine. Whatever it is, loving it will change you, and inspire you to do all that you can to merge with that. We all know that love changes us. When we care about something or someone more than our own self, we are being changed. As the Beatles sung, "All you need is love." Ah, if it were only that simple, the earth would be paradise by now and every religion would be producing saints by the millions. We are not there yet, but we are on the way. Love was the right start then, and it is the right start now. That is not love of anything and everything – scattered all around with no particular focus. That kind of universal love comes later, as the natural outflow of pure bliss consciousness and divine ecstasy come up. The kind of love that drives human spiritual transformation and all the yoga that brings it up is love of your highest ideal.

    What is the highest ideal? Who decides what it is? Your guru? Your priest? Your rabbi? Your mullah? There will be plenty of suggestions. Everyone wants you to love their ideal. That's okay. It is a game that we humans have played for thousands of years. Love my ideal, will you please? Or else!

    But only you can choose. Only you know what burns brightest in your heart. That is your highest ideal, that which burns like a beacon in your heart. Maybe it is Jesus. Maybe Krishna. Maybe Allah. Maybe your guru. Maybe the light inside you. It can be anything. Only you can know. Whoever or whatever it is, it is yours. It is personal. You will know it when you see it because it will burn like a beacon in you. It will be all goodness, all progress, projecting no harm toward anyone. It is that which leads you home to pure bliss consciousness and divine ecstasy.

    In the language of bhakti, it is called "ishta," which means, "chosen ideal." You choose it. If nothing comes up burning bright like that, it is okay. Guess what? You are reading these words, and therefore you are moving toward your highest ideal, your ishta. Your highest ideal is in your movement to study, and perhaps an inclination to practice yoga methods. Your ishta is in you somewhere. Your desire is leading you to something. This is as much ishta as having a clear vision in your heart. Your journey is your ishta.

    Bhakti begins with that very first question: "Is there something more?"

    The amazing thing about the process of bhakti is how it clarifies over time. At first, there is some fuzzy notion. Some desires coming up. A sense of mystery. That opening alone brings knowledge in. Who knows from where it will come? Then we grab on and start doing something. Some practices. Then some inner experiences start, some blissful silence, and then there is some clarity. Then we read the scriptures, and words that were just words before come alive with radiant meaning. After a while, our ishta becomes clearer. We find ourselves in a relationship with what is happening inside. All the while the bhakti is getting stronger, and we are falling deeper into the divine game.

    Somewhere along the way we will find the techniques of bhakti, and falling into the divine accelerates. Maybe we will read about the techniques. Or maybe we discover them naturally.

    So what are the techniques of bhakti? Well, there is really only one. It manifests in a thousand ways. It is not a practice we do while in our daily sessions of pranayama and meditation. It is something that gradually rises in our daily activity.

    There are always desires coming. We want this. We want that. We want money. We want food. We want a lover. We want a new car. Even anger and frustration are desires – desires that have hit a wall, so the energy goes haywire in our nervous system. So many desires are flying all over the place, sending us hither and yon, crashing into each other. You name it. The technique of bhakti is in redirecting our
    desires, harnessing them. Some people naturally find this ability. For others, it comes up over time, as there is more silence in the mind and heart from meditation. The inner silence cultivated in meditation is underneath the desires bubbling up, so we can see them like moving objects. We are a bit detached from the emotional energy in us. Then we can nudge it toward our highest ideal. Just a very easy nudging. No forcing. No big campaign. It is just an easy favoring of our ideal when we notice some emotional energy surging up. It does not matter if it is positive or negative energy.

    For example, suppose we are stuck at a traffic light and getting frustrated because we are late for an appointment. A lot of emotional energy is there getting frittered away. So we are frustrated. Take that frustration and redirect it. With your attention you can easily let the red light go as the object of the frustration simmering there. Easily bring in your highest ideal as the object. It is much like meditation. You easily favor one thought object over another. So now you are frustrated about your highest ideal. "God damned ishta! Why am I not merged with you yet? I am very frustrated!" Now you have a real motivation not to miss your daily meditation. Not only that, your emotional energy directed in that way produces spiritual changes inside your nervous system. It opens your nervous system to your ideal. It is ironic that we can't change a red light with our emotions, but we can open our nervous system to the divine with them. It seems like a worthwhile thing to do, doesn't it?

    This kind of procedure can be done with every emotion, positive or negative – with our feelings about everything we do. Does it mean we stop doing the things we are doing and run off to meditate instead? No. We meditate when it is time to meditate, and in activity we do the things we have chosen to do in our life. Redirecting emotional energy to our highest ideal will animate our actions, whatever they may be, and it will turbo-charge our practices whenever we sit to do them. When in practices, we do the procedures of the practices, not the bhakti procedure. To the extent bhakti is simmering in us from the redirection of desires during the day, our practices will be enhanced. What we want is to quietly cultivate a habit of bhakti in life. We will look the same outside, but inside the wheels of bhakti will always be turning. We will experience a rise in our spiritual intensity. It is called "tapas." Tapas is bhakti that is a habit and never stops, like an endless flame burning in us. With that kind of bhakti, all of life becomes spiritual practice.

    Mother Theresa of Calcutta said she saw Jesus in the eyes of every disadvantaged child she helped. That is bhakti.

    It won't always work for us like that. It isn't supposed to. Don't judge yourself on whether or not you were able to transfer your frustration at the red light into a frustration for getting enlightened. Just remember this procedure from time to time as you go through your daily life, especially if you catch yourself in a whirlpool of emotional energy. That is prime time for bhakti. Just an awareness of this principle of bhakti will set things in motion inside when emotions flare up.

    The great nineteenth-century Indian saint, Ramakrishna, was a master at creating huge outpourings of bhakti. He would writhe around on the floor at the base of the statue of Mother Divine he worshipped, sobbing and sobbing for the slightest touch from her inside. The more upset he got the more he would direct it toward his ishta, the statue. He seemed like a crazy man. All the while his bhakti was working like a laser beam, slicing through every obstruction in his nervous system. By bhakti alone he became the divine.

    The extremes of bhakti are not necessarily what we are aiming for here in these lessons, though it is up to you. Even a little bhakti goes a very long way. There is great power in it. So much so that we have to remind ourselves that intense bhakti can have a big effect on the rise of our kundalini, both directly through the emotional energy, and in the turbo-charging effect that bhakti brings into all of our practices. As with all yoga practices, we can overdo bhakti, so we must be mindful about that. Our experience is the best measure of whether or not we are overdoing it. Everyone has their own time line, their own pace for the spiritual purification process. Let your experience be your guide.

    Because the method of bhakti produces predictable results over and over again, we can say that it is a systematic application of knowledge. Bhakti is the science of devotion -- a powerful science indeed.

    Let's go back to kundalini now and talk more about some of the symptoms that come up, and what to do if things seem to be a little out of balance.

    The guru is in you.

    Note: For detailed instructions on Bhakti, see the AYP Bhakti and Karma Yoga book.

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    Arriving, not leaving

    Thursday, August 23, 2012, 9:35 AM [General]

    Q: I am a bit afraid that the pranayama practice may feel soooo good that I may lose complete interest in sexual contact with my spouse. Does this happen; and if it does can it be prevented?


    A: The rise of divine ecstasy is an expansion, not a leaving. Sex is always a matter of choice. While it is true that the attention will naturally be attracted to inner ecstasy, it is also true that outer sex is turned radiant by this, becoming a blossom of the divine rather than an end in itself. This is what pure bliss consciousness and inner ecstasy do to all of life -- illuminate it from the inside. Then pure joy is found everywhere. That is an improvement, yes?


    The lessons will get into more on yoga and sex down the road -- the enlightenment process as it relates to relationships, marriage and sex -- not necessarily incompatible things at all. Key tantra practices will be covered also, so that outer sex can become a part of the process of divine expansion rather than a drain on it. Of course, all advanced yoga practices are at your option. That goes for everything in here. It is up to you to decide what makes sense for you, and what doesn't.


    If you really want to make the journey, you will find the way through. If you decide to make the trip, you will find that you are arriving, not leaving.


    Your desire will lead the way, which brings us to further consideration of a very important topic: Bhakti.


    The guru is in you.


    Note: For detailed instructions on spinal breathing, see the AYP Spinal Breathing Pranayama book.


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    The pineal and pituitary glands

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012, 10:11 AM [General]

    New Members: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"


    Q: When I do sambhavi as instructed, I can feel a pull coming forward in my brain, and a sexual sensation down below like you said. Does this connection have something to do with the pituitary or pineal gland?


    A: That is great you are feeling the connection between sambhavi and below. Something good is happening. There is no doubt the pituitary and pineal glands are involved in the process of human spiritual transformation. The spinal nerve passes near both of them, and sambhavi affects them both directly. We will begin learning another advanced yoga practice in a week or two called, "kechari" which also acts on the pituitary and pineal glands, as well as many other aspects of our physiology and neurology.


    The pineal gland is located in the middle of the head near where the spinal nerve turns forward. If you point your fingers into your head above the ear holes at the level of the temples, you will be pointing right at it. The pituitary gland is located between temples, sitting in a bony structure above the nasal pharynx, the large cavity going up above your soft palate.


    Awakening ecstatic conductivity in the spinal nerve awakens the connection between the pineal and pituitary glands, and this corresponds to the opening of the third eye, the opening of inner sight. It is a complex process involving the entire nervous system. Someday science will unravel all the biochemistry involved in the human transformation to enlightenment.


    For now, we will do best to consider such intricacies to be "under the hood," much the way it was suggested we regard the chakras in an earlier lesson. Otherwise, we risk getting too involved with the internal details and lose focus on the simple procedures of practice that promote the opening of the nervous system to divine experience.


    Our concern in advanced yoga practices is with the main controls that influence the complex machinery inside, coaxing the nervous system and all the biology to a higher level of functioning – naturally giving rise to sustained pure bliss consciousness and ecstatic experience in daily life.


    If you are a doctor, biologist, neurologist, or just plain curious, all of this will be fascinating stuff. If you decide to do some research on the internal workings of the enlightenment process, it would be best to avoid doing it during practices. Better to stick with the main controls during flight. Then, feel free to reflect on the machine's inner functioning to your heart's content after you have arrived back at the landing strip.


    The guru is in you.


    Note: For detailed instructions on sambhavi mudra, see the AYP Asanas, Mudras and Bandhas book.


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    The ecstatic silver thread

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012, 9:50 AM [General]

    Q: I think I have gotten a little carried away with the mulabandha. It just feels sensually very good to do it, especially moving it around, pulling it up and so on. Well, I don't want to stop doing it. I noticed after practices yesterday while I was walking outside that the energy I have been playing with in mulabandha is coming up in a very fine line, like a thread of pleasure coming up in my pelvis and lower spine. In my mind's eye it looks silver, a searing silver feeling, and is both hot and cold at the same time. Is this kundalini? My heart is swooning before this new experience.

    A: Yes. A very good experience. A milestone. It is another way kundalini can manifest in the beginning stages of awakening. It gives clarity to the spinal nerve too. So be sure and take advantage of that added definition in your spinal breathing practice. You will soon find the thread going all the way up to the point between the eyebrows, and a direct connection with sambhavi will emerge. This is the rise of ecstatic conductivity in the spinal nerve.

    As for the desire to engage in mulabandha for the pleasure of it, there is nothing wrong with that. Actually, if you are moving rhythmically with it, it is asvini mudra, and that is okay too, as long as you are responding to a natural urge. Was it ever said here that spiritual practice is not supposed to be pleasurable? Just the opposite. If it is pleasurable, it is just right. The path to enlightenment is a path of pleasure.

    Having said that, make sure you do not completely disrupt the structure and procedure of practices with your ecstatic reveries. Remember, you are going for much more than beginning experiences of ecstasy. If you stay true to your practices, the experiences will steadily advance.

    Spiritual practice can evolve into a wonderful ecstatic party twice a day. It will, and it will spread out into every corner of life. But make sure it remains a party with a plan. Continue to follow the easy procedures for pranayama and meditation. Remember that engaging the attention excessively in experiences will be at the cost of spiritual practices. As for what you do with it as it expands into your daily life outside practices, it is entirely up to you. Enjoy!

    So party on, but do it responsibly. There is much more in store if you keep your practices intact no matter how good the experiences get.

    The guru is in you.

    Note: For detailed instructions on spinal breathing, see the AYP Spinal Breathing Pranayama book.

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    Cool and warm currents in pranayama

    Thursday, August 16, 2012, 9:38 AM [General]

    Q: I think am getting it together with spinal breathing, mulabandha and sambhavi. My breath is going very slow, stopping by itself sometimes. I am getting strange sensations of coolness coming up from my root on rising inhalation and warmness going down there on falling exhalation. What is this? Is it a good sign?


    A: Yes, a very good sign. A real milestone on the way to enlightenment. As sexual energy comes up it has that coolness to it, and the warmness going back down. So you are having a direct experience of awakening kundalini. It is one way the beginning is experienced. There are other ways. Not everyone has it begin the same way. But most everyone will have some form of the cool and warm currents sooner or later.


    We can amplify those sensations of coolness and warmness to enhance our practice. It is kind of like pulling ourselves up by our kundalini bootstraps. This is accomplished by using the inductive power of the breath. We already are using the breath to induce the flow of prana up and down in the spinal nerve. Now we can latch something else on to that. The rising and falling breath has its own sensations of coolness and warmness built into it. This is a handle we can use in going from imagining the spinal nerve to actually feeling it. For those who are not feeling coolness and warmness rising and falling in the pelvis, adding this sensory awareness in breath can help it come up. For those who do have the feeling of cool and warm currents already, it can be enhanced. Here is how it works.


    Purse your lips and suck air into your lungs. Do you feel the coolness of the air passing through your lips, through your mouth, and down your windpipe into your lungs? Now go the other way and push the air out. Do you feel the warmness coming up and all the way out through your pursed lips? Now try it with your mouth closed, just as you would breath in pranayama. The coolness and warmness is still going in and out your windpipe, isn't it? Now, let that sensation of coolness coming in the windpipe on inhalation go along with your attention as you come up inside the spinal nerve. You begin at the perineum and end at the point between the eyebrows, coolness all the way up. Don't forget the turn forward in the middle of your head. As you exhale, let the sensation of warmness that occurs as air comes out the windpipe go along with your attention as you go all the way back down inside the spinal nerve. And so on during your spinal breathing session. Like so much of what we do in pranayama, this is a habit that can be easily built into the routine. With a little patience you will get through the "clunky" stage fairly quickly. As with all practices we discuss, don't take it on until you feel reasonably stable with everything else you are doing. There is no rush. Too much too fast is not a help.


    If you don't feel the coolness and warmness being induced in the spinal nerve, don't worry about it. It will come at some point as your sexual energy begins to noticeably stir upward. In the mean time, you are helping it along with all the means we have presented. There will be more means too.


    Over time, the coolness of sexual energy coming up and warmness going down will change. It will begin to spread out and develop a mind of it's own. It can get fiery and expand into a column of swirling energies. This is kundalini coming awake inside. In our spinal breathing, we just continue easily, not trying to force any particular sensation on the energy moving inside us. At some point we will realize we are not directing what is happening so much any more. Instead, we are partnering with the energy inside, accommodating its needs. Spinal breathing is important in this, because it provides the balance of polarities necessary for kundalini to fulfill her destiny inside us. Spinal breathing balances the masculine and feminine energies inside. The I AM meditation also balances masculine and feminine energies, as discussed two lessons ago. Without that balance, things can get a little dicey. Kundalini can go a little crazy when she can't find her husband. Even in the smoothest kundalini scenario there will be some symptoms. If there is imbalance between the masculine and feminine energies inside, the symptoms can become uncomfortable. We will talk about kundalini symptoms, imbalances, and remedies in subsequent lessons. The goal is to make the journey as smooth as possible.


    Know you are on a great and wonderful adventure – a journey of destiny, homeward to your divine self.


    The guru is in you.


    Note: For detailed instructions on spinal breathing, see the AYP Spinal Breathing Pranayama book.


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    Q&A - Duration of one spinal breathing cycle?

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012, 10:47 AM [General]

    Q: How long is one spinal breathing cycle supposed to be?

    A: It varies from person to person, and even in one person at different times. It depends on how the nervous system is operating at a given time. This varies as the cycles of purification are occurring. When the breathing is slow, there are few obstructions being released, but the preparation for release of obstructions is happening during the slow breathing. When obstructions come loose and are released, the breathing will not be so slow. The instruction is to breathe slowly and deeply with comfort during pranayama, not to press beyond the present natural limit. That limit may change from day to day, or even within a single session. 

    With the above points for basic understanding, we can say that a spinal breathing cycle (including both inhalation and exhalation) can vary from fifteen seconds to half a minute. It can be shorter or longer than this range. Don't set goals. Let your body tell you what is right. Sometimes we may need more air. Other times our breath may suspend completely during pranayama. It is a natural process. We just go with it and follow the procedure. 

    Likewise, we may notice changing patterns of breath in meditation, where there is no direct supervision of breath at all -- just using the mantra. The body will purify itself when given the opportunity. Changes in breath are an indicator that something good is happening. Advanced yoga practices are working for us. We just stay with the program. 

    The guru is in you.

    Note: For detailed instructions on spinal breathing, see the AYP Spinal Breathing Pranayama book.

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    Unexpected interruptions

    Thursday, August 9, 2012, 9:44 AM [General]

    Q: What do I do if my practice is unexpectedly interrupted?

    A: If someone yells, "fire!" or your mother-in-law walks in on you, do what must be done.

    When you get done with the interruption, then, if possible, go back and pick up where you left off in the session time-wise. Don't start over. If you are out of time, then just meditate for a few minutes, rest, and go. If you feel irritable due to the disruption, then lie down and rest until you feel smoother. Don't meditate anymore then. Then go be active, and look forward to your next regular session.

    If you can't go back and finish, then you will have to make the best of it. Know that resting quietly is the best cure for irritability. You can also use the procedure in the meditation lesson called, "Meditation Q&A -- Restlessness" for dealing with uncomfortable sensations that may occur in the body. The good news is that, after a long time of practice, the obstructions in the nervous system will become much less and the process will be much smoother all the way around. Then, if you are interrupted, it is not such a big deal. You will be in pure bliss consciousness every minute of every day.

    But, even then, we aim for privacy during our regular practice. It is a very important habit to have. Our success in yoga depends on it.

    The guru is in you.

    Note: For detailed instructions on deep meditation, see the AYP Deep Meditation book.

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    Some mantra particulars

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012, 9:37 AM [General]

    Q: I have some questions about the I AM mantra. What if I have been given a mantra from someone else for meditation? Does I AM have the same effect as OM? Can I use I AM for chanting? Can I use it during the day while I am at work? Can I use it as I go to sleep at night? You said don't use I AM during pranayama. What about using a mantra such as So-Ham with the breath during pranayama? Besides morning and evening, can I meditate using I AM in the middle of the day too?


    A: If you are following another teaching or tradition, and it is going well, stick with that. That goes for any other mantra you have been given as well. In that case, just consider these lessons to be "food for thought." There is no wish here to interfere with existing systems of practice. These lessons are designed to present an "open system" of integrated spiritual practices that can be used by anyone to the degree desired. Beginners can start from scratch at the beginning and go all the way through with these lessons. Experienced practitioners can tap in anywhere and pick up a few pointers. Like that.


    If you have decided to use these lessons as the primary source for your practice, then you would do best to discontinue any overlapping practices and follow the lessons precisely. There are only so many things a person can do at once. You can see there are plenty of practices here to digest. Yahoo willing, there will be many more advanced yoga practices coming. Keep it simple and go one step at a time. If this is going to be your primary source, there will be more than enough to do. We will leave no stone unturned.


    The I AM mantra is similar to OM, but not exactly the same, so the effects are somewhat different. I AM has both linear and circular qualities contained within it, while OM is circular. "I" is the linear quality in I AM. "AM" is the circular quality in I AM. So you can see I AM has something extra. What is that something extra? It is a polarity. OM is well known to be the sound of kundalini moving through the body, the nervous system becoming enlivened as sexual essences circulate higher up and a new biology emerges. Many can hear it. OM is the sound of Mother Nature in us, and she is ecstatic bliss. Ahhh…


    OM is mother. But where is father? As we become enlightened, a divine romance occurs in us, a joining. In the I AM mantra, "I" is the father vibration, and "AM" is the mother vibration. Recall that yoga means "to join." This happens on many levels in many ways. In meditation, we are refining the vibrations of the mantra every day to stillness, to silence, to pure bliss consciousness, over and over again. Using I AM as mantra, we are cultivating pure bliss consciousness fully through the nervous system, permeating the natural polarity that exists within us. We are enlivening both divine masculine and divine feminine qualities within us at the same time. This has a direct relationship to the dynamics in the spinal nerve, and to the dynamics of kundalini. More on that later. The thing to understand here is that I AM has some special characteristics. This may sound theoretical, but it becomes very experiential in time. As your experience advances, you will find that the vibrational quality of the mantra has a direct correspondence with inner ecstatic experiences that constitute a consummation of polarities going on in the nervous system. It is a complex, but automatic, process we stimulate with our daily practice.


    Continue to be relaxed and easy in your meditations. All this theory means nothing compared to the simple process of meditation. Forget the meanings when you meditate. If all this meaning comes up in meditation, just treat it like any other thoughts. Easily go back to the mantra. Just meditate every day, and everything will come naturally. In time, you will experience inside what has been mentioned here.


    Chanting I AM is not recommended if you are using it in your daily meditation. The reason is that we use the mantra for going inward to stillness of mind and body. Chanting is an outside activity. We want the habit with the mantra to be going in. In time, you will think the mantra once and be gone into pure bliss consciousness. Your nervous system will become habituated to dive into the meditative state at the drop of a hat – a wonderful ability to have in this hectic world. If you love to chant, find something else to use. Chanting has its own benefits and is wonderful, especially in groups. Stick with using the I AM mantra for going in with the simple but powerful procedure of meditation. If you like to use I AM at bedtime as you go to sleep, that's okay, but keep it inside. Keep in mind it can be very stimulating for some people, especially as we further awaken kundalini. That could keep you awake. Of course, it is okay to use I AM in regular conversation. That is fine. That is on the level of meaning. Meditation is beyond verbal meaning, on levels of inner refinement of the vibration of thought where there is much more power.


    Thinking the mantra during the day while in activity is not recommended. When you are in the world, be in the world. When you are in meditation, be in meditation. Your activity will stabilize pure bliss consciousness in your nervous system. That will happen naturally if you meditate twice a day. In general, keep meditation and activity separate. Both have their purpose. Likewise, we don't deliberately use the mantra while we are doing pranayama, or vise versa.


    The reason we don't use the mantra in pranayama is because we are already building many other habits of practice relating to spinal breathing. Spinal breathing is an advanced practice, and becomes more advanced as we add on the other things that we do during pranayama. There are breathing mantras like So-Ham that people use during pranayama. That is fine as a beginning practice when the attention is not going up and down the spinal nerve and also building the other habits that are necessary for advanced yoga practice. Because we begin with spinal breathing in these lessons, we skip the beginning practice of breathing mantra. Instead, we do pranayama first and meditation second. In these lessons we don't do both at the same time.


    Twice a day is the formula for meditation. If morning and mid afternoon are best for you rather than morning and early evening, then do it. Take a good rest when coming out so activity will be smooth. Meditation three times a day may make you cranky. If you have a weekend or holiday, and are removed from responsibilities, you can try three meditations for a day or two. But keep in mind you are using a powerful practice that releases obstructions/impurities in your nervous system. If they come out too fast, it can be uncomfortable. That is why we rest after meditation, and then go and be active to stabilize the pure bliss consciousnes in our nervous system. Find your steady pattern, and make it a routine. Regularity in practice over time is how to progress. Short intense practice for a day here and there won't make much difference. It is what you do day in and day out for months and years that will make the difference. Then the silence of pure bliss consciousness will come up and permeate every part of your life.


    The guru is in you.


    Note: For detailed instructions on deep meditation, see the AYP Deep Meditation book.


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    Q&A – Step by step

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012, 10:32 AM [General]

    Q: My question relates to the effects of combining the methods recommended by you with the ones that I am formerly accustomed to. Will they enhance each other or will they be counterproductive? Relating to the most recent addition - Sambhavi - all I can say is Whoa! You could most definitely say I'm going through that "clunky" stage! The ability to hold anal sphincter tone, contract abs, breathe with a hiss on exhalation, cross your eyes to reach the third eye . . . all simultaneously . . . is really quite a task, much less to try to do it in a relaxed mode.


    A: Of course, whatever you practice is your choice. If you are following an established teaching, there is no wish here to interfere with that. In that case, just consider these lessons to be "food for thought."


    If you are trying to piece things together yourself, then some definite advice is offered.


    First, less is more in spiritual practice. Simplicity is the key. Trying to put together overlapping pieces from several sources is not going to help you, unless you are advanced and are filling in clear gaps in your current practice. You don't seem to be in that position yet, but you will be if you keep at it long enough.


    It is suggested you simplify what you are doing. You will know you are practicing at the right level if you are having stability (and fun!) instead of knocking yourself out trying to do too much. The best measure of the stability of your practice is how you feel afterward in daily life. If you feel frazzled during the day, go back and stabilize your practice at a comfortable level. Always make sure you rest adequately at the end of meditation.


    Remember that we are working with natural abilities inherent within our nervous system. The ways in are delicate, and don't work well if we muddy things up too much with divided attention. These natural abilities are:


    1. Our mind's ability to become still, opening our nervous system to the infinite field of pure bliss consciousness.


    2. The ability of our breath and attention to cultivate our spinal nerve, enabling our whole nervous system to become fertile ground for pure bliss consciousness to grow in us.


    3. The ability of our sexual energy to rise and enliven the spinal nerve to an ecstatic conductivity which expands throughout our nervous system, and beyond.


    4. The ability of the senses to refine and travel inward along the many roads of ecstatic experience.


    5. The ability of pure bliss consciousness expanding in us and beyond to reach a unified level of awareness encompassing all of existence. We come to know ourselves as that.


    We want to stimulate all these abilities into their natural manifestation. This is the road to enlightenment. But we can't be successful by beginning with everything at once. Rome was not built in a day. We must develop each level of practice into a stable habit. It is like that in the application of any knowledge. We develop a stable habit at each level of knowledge. First we learn step one. We do that until it is well established. Then we can add on step two, stabilize that, and so on. If we try and do steps one through ten all at the same time, we will have little chance of success. It is like that with anything new we undertake. It is like that in academic education. We take class after class, working our way from the beginning gradually through to the end.


    The difference here is that it is all being laid out fairly quickly, far faster than anyone can take on in practice. For some additional perspectives on building up practices, it is suggested you go back and reread Lesson 38 -- "What is your time line?"


    If it is advancedyogapractices you want to use as your primary practice guideline, then, at this stage, it is suggested you don't muddy up your practice with other methods. Start slow with meditation. Get that down first. Then after a few weeks or months, add on basic spinal breathing. Get comfortable with that. Then, later, you can add on the practices in subsequent lessons. Take on practices one at a time, not all at the same time. This is mentioned over and over in the lessons.


    The challenge used to be finding the knowledge. Now the challenge is applying it in an orderly way. It is in your hands.


    The guru is in you.


    Note: For detailed instructions on building a stable practice routine, see the AYP Eight Limbs of Yoga book.

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