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    Extreme sensitivity to meditation - what to do?

    Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 10:44 AM [General]

    Q: After 5 - 7 minutes of meditation colors like orange, yellow, green and dark blue in the form of bright light appear before my eyes. This stays about for a minute or two and my head starts to ache and I can't meditate any longer. I come out of my meditation and I sleep as my head is very heavy. At night when I sleep after meditation I am getting very violent dreams like a woman getting raped, and such destructive activities. The feeling is so real that it is scary. This kind of thing has never happened to me. The day I don't meditate I do not get these dreams. I very much want to keep my meditation going but these experiences are becoming a hindrance. Would appreciate your advice.

    A: Thank you for writing and sharing.

    You are one of the few people who are very sensitive to meditation, with a lot of obstructions coming out very fast with just a little practice. 

    The thing to do is find the right balance of practice for yourself that will allow the obstructions to be dissolved during meditation rather than continuing after. It will take trying some different things to find the balance. If you are determined, you will be able to work it out. Here are few suggestions. Feel free to experiment until you find a stable routine. 

    First, try and meditate for 10 minutes only in the morning before breakfast for a few days. Lie down for 5-10 minutes afterward, or longer if you feel uneasy. Taking adequate time to "come out" after meditation is very important, especially if there is a lot of release going on during meditation. See if you can get a comfortable routine going with just 10 minutes of meditation plus rest in the morning. If you can, then try adding a second 10 minute session in the early evening, before dinner, not near bedtime. 

    If strong sensations or headache come in meditation stop the mantra and just sit and let the attention be easily with the sensation. It is obstructions dissolving, and easy attention on it without mantra will help it dissolve. If it is too much, as you described before, then lay down and continue to be easy with the attention letting it be drawn to the sensation. Don't force the attention at all. Just be easy with it. Try not to get up until the sensation subsides. Then you will know the dissolving process has completed. Don't meditate beyond your allotted time - that includes time spent in thoughts, on sensations, etc. Everything that happens in the allotted time (10 minutes in this case) is considered part of meditation. 

    Make sure you have good activity during the day and during the evening after meditation. This is important to stabilize the purification happening in the nervous system during meditation. Being with people, family activities, walking, doing creative work or service - wherever your heart takes you. 

    Don't meditate right before bed. Always meditate before activity. 

    If you get it to 10 minutes twice a day with good stability and are feeling okay in activity during the day and evening (and in sleep too), then try for 15 minutes twice a day. If that is good after a few weeks or months, try for 20 minutes. If you are feeling discomfort and feel you are meditating too long, then back off to the last comfortable level you found and stay there for a while. 

    Self-pacing matched to your experience is what you should do. This is the key to long term success in all practices - finding stable daily practice over many months and years. 

    Another thing you can try is some light spinal breathing before meditation (5 minutes or so), as given in the lessons. This can help smooth out meditation. Spinal breathing is very good for balancing unruly energies in the nervous system, which includes mind and emotions. Finally, you can also try some light asanas, bending and stretching, (5-10 minutes) before spinal breathing and meditation. Maybe only spinal breathing will help at this stage. Maybe only asanas. Maybe both. Maybe neither. You will only know by trying. 

    Maybe you will find that only asanas once or twice a day with or without spinal breathing, and no meditation, are what you need to do for a while until the obstructions get cleared out of your nervous system a bit. Then you can try and add meditation later. Where there is a will, there is a way. 

    Those are some options to consider for finding a stable routine. I wish you all success. 

    The guru is in you.

    Note: For detailed instructions on deep meditation with self-pacing, see theAYP Deep Meditation book.

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    Too many thoughts in meditation?

    Thursday, June 6, 2013, 10:22 AM [General]

    Q: I thank you very much for a great service you are doing. It is good work and please keep it up. I have one question. When I do meditation, my mind gets drifted and it goes on thinking about different activities that I did recently and which I might be doing in the future. Because of this instead of 20 mins, I do meditation more time, sometimes up to 40 mins also. When I do meditation more time like this I get headache and get angry at people even on slight problems. Because of this I couldn't do higher meditation. Can you please help me to do regular meditation. How can I focus where I am doing? Also, what can I get rid off the headache.

    A: Thank you for writing and sharing. 

    Thoughts are a normal part of meditation. They come as obstructions are being released in the nervous system. If you meditate much longer than 20 minutes, you will be releasing too much in one session, and that is the cause of the irritability and headaches. So, go back to 20 minutes and follow the procedure for easily coming back to mantra whenever you realize you are off it. Once you begin meditation, if you have nothing but thoughts for the whole time, that is okay. It is what needs to happen right then as your nervous system is purifying deep inside. It will not always be like that. Experiences change over time. Right now, your experience is thoughts -- which is release of lots of deep obstructions. Good things are happening, but a bit too much with such long meditations.

    If you are doing meditation according to the lessons, then I suggest you review all the lessons and Q&As on the procedure of meditation. Thoughts are a normal part of the process. It may seem very mundane sometimes in meditation. I can assure you that you are deep in meditation. If you were not, you would not have irritability and headaches from overdoing it. 

    Also, make sure you take adequate rest time when coming out of meditation, as instructed in the lessons. This will facilitate smoothness in activity.

    Follow the easy procedure and you will be fine. If you have further difficulties, let me know. 

    The guru is in you.

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

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    Too relaxed in meditation?

    Wednesday, June 5, 2013, 9:42 AM [General]

    Q: Thanks for your group, I am enjoying it very much. I am getting ready to use the Yoni Mudra in my practice next but had a question. During the meditation I almost always fall asleep while in Siddhasana. Sometimes I even have to remind myself during pranayama to breath because I start to go out then. Lots of head nodding at first then I wake up slouched over (even drooling a few times). I try to sit away from the wall because I would nod off and thump my head sometimes. I dont feel tired when I practice or during the day. I usually wake up around the 20 minute mark. Is there something I am missing? I enjoy the way things are going but just wanted to see if you had any advice on this.

    A: It is good practice you describe. It won't be manifesting like that forever. It is a special form of sleep associated with deep inner silence and purification during meditation. Once your nervous system has released those deep-rooted obstructions in there, you will experience much more clarity during practices. Your clarity in activity is evidence that good things are happening. It is a great way to get rid of lifetimes of accumulated karma. While you are "sleeping" the infinite is unfolding inside you. 

    I wish you all success as you continue. 

    The guru is in you.

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

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    What is inner silence?

    Tuesday, June 4, 2013, 10:12 AM [General]

    Q: Inner silence has been mentioned many times in these lessons, and the words seem simple, but I'd like to clarify what we're talking about. I believe it was Krishnamurti who talked about jumping into the space between mental words. Is that what inner silence means in the context of these lessons--that space with no auditory content that I can extend for a while before the mind manages to start burbling again?

    I have also noticed that I frequently start to have vivid mental images during samyama practice. No auditory to disrupt the silence, but clear, dream-quality images. I suspect it means that I'm falling asleep during sadhana, but therein lies another question. Is meditation and samyama performed teetering on the edge between deep relaxation and sleep? Or has mind turned off from the path of sleep and headed in a different direction?

    A: Inner silence is at the heart of yoga. Without it, there can be no yoga. In the second lesson we discussed how yoga is the joining of the subject (observer) and the object (observed). The object is not so hard to find. It is everything we perceive in our heart and mind, and out through our senses. The object is everywhere. And so too is the subject. But the subject is not always so obvious. The subject is the inner silence we have been talking about here so often. 

    What is inner silence? It has many names in the traditions: sat-chit-ananda, the Self, the witness, unconditioned awareness, the void, emptiness, Father God, Shiva, samadhi, Tao, and so on... In the lessons we often call it pure bliss consciousness. So many names for what amounts to nothingness. But the nothingness is alive. It is aware. It is everywhere. And it is somehow blissful within itself. It is the "I" in you and me that remains constant. It is the universal "I" that expresses as all that we see, yet remains mostly hidden within, except to those who have cultivated Self-awareness through yoga. Success in that cultivation brings a state of freedom from the ups and downs of this world, even as we continue to be involved in our everyday activities. 

    Yoga is about revealing our "I," experiencing it in its native unconditioned state. Yoga is for answering the question "Who am I?" and consciously becoming it. Our nervous system has the ability to give us that experience, and more. This is why the human nervous system is called the "temple of God."

    With direct experience through practices we can go from the philosophy/theory of inner silence to the reality of it. The leap from theory to reality is found in the ways that our nervous system manifests different forms of awareness. The nervous system operates in modes that we can identify as different states of consciousness. There are three states of consciousness we all know well: 

    1. Waking state -- what we experience in our daily activity. 

    2. Dreaming state -- what we sometimes experience in sleep. 

    3. Deep dreamless sleep state -- what we don't experience much, but 
    we were somewhere. 

    Inner silence is a state distinctly different from these three. We know it in our deep meditation as blissful awareness without any objects. Or it can be mixed with objects too, like thoughts, feelings, or whatever. But in its pristine state, it is without objects. So in yoga it gets its own number as a unique state of consciousness: 

    4. Inner silence -- it is all those descriptive words and definitions mentioned already. In yoga it is sometimes called simply "Turiya," which means "the fourth state" in sanskrit. 

    The difference between inner silence and the other three states of consciousness is that inner silence is unchanging and can be cultivated in the nervous system as an unending presence superimposed under, in, and through the other three states of consciousness. Those who have meditated for some time find this to be the case. It starts as some inner peace and an awareness of a silent quality coexisting with and within the objects of our perception. This happens with external observations through the senses, and with our thoughts and feelings too. We see them as the objects that they are, occurring external to our unconditioned inner silent awareness. With daily yoga practices, inner silence grows and becomes the the movie screen upon which all our experiences are projected. We become the movie screen -- the infinite movie screen of life. 

    Is inner silence "the space between mental words" (thoughts)? Yes, it is. It is the gap we sometimes experience as we pass from one thought to another, and from one state of consciousness to another. When the music stops for an instant, we are left with inner silence, our Self. For the yogi and yogini, inner silence is also experienced behind and within the thoughts, and within all of life. So, when we let go into inner silence during samyama, there may be no mental activity, or there may be some. If we are letting go, our attention will be in inner silence, assuming we have cultivated some in deep meditation beforehand. Samyama and enlightenment (first stage and beyond) depend on innate inner silence that will be there whether the mind is "burbling" or not. It also comes up in dreaming state and deep sleep -- that's 24/7 inner silence. Once we have that rising, we are becoming ready for serious yoga, union of the subject and the object, and that is the union of the divine poles within us leading to the unity condition where all is experienced as a divine flow of the One. 

    So, the reason why be begin with meditation in these lessons is to cultivate inner silence first, the prerequisite for all the rest that happens in yoga. Once we have that coming up, it is possible to open many doors. When Shiva (inner silence) is there, then arousing and fostering ecstatic union with Kundalini/Shakti becomes possible, and a joyous experience rather than a traumatic one. It is the natural next step. So after meditation is established, that is what we do here in the lessons -- awaken Kundalini and get down to the business of joining the subject and the object. That's yoga. 

    As for falling asleep in samyama, meditation, etc., from the above you can see it is not quite the same as crossing from one state (inner silence) to another state (like sleep). It is not either-or in practices. We can be in both at the same time, which is often the case during meditation especially. That is why we count time we are "lost" in thoughts or no thoughts in meditation as practice time. The purification in the nervous system is going on in these conditions. If we drift off in samyama, we just easily pick up with the sutras where we left off. In that case, we have gone from the sutra off into some blend of inner silence and the subtle flavor of the sutra. When we realize that has happened, we just easily continue from where we left off. The time for getting through samyama can be stretched out a bit if we lose track like that. If something like sleep keeps overcoming us in a particular samyama session, we can just call it done and lie down and rest. This is good samyama also. It can happen if a lot of obstructions are being released. Inner silence is being cultivated throughout the whole procedure, so, again, it is not one state of consciousness or the other. It is rising inner silence with whatever else is going on.

    Keep in mind that all of this we are talking about is not on the level of the curious mind, the intellect. Only the theory has to do with intellect. The practices are not for promoting theory. Daily advanced yoga practices are for purifying and opening our nervous system in ways that are neurological and biological – a dramatic expansion of the functioning of our nervous system. The experiences of ecstatic bliss that come up are very real – ultimately as real as the most intimate lovemaking we can imagine, and it is all going on inside. So, cultivating inner silence has far-reaching implications in our lives. 

    The guru is in you.

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

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    Muladhara/root and integration of practices

    Thursday, May 30, 2013, 12:24 PM [General]

    Q: I am very interested in stimulating the muladhara (root chakra) physically. It is a main focus in my yoga. Can you tell me how the practices will do that?

    A: Stimulating the muladhara/root at the perineum is important, but not to the exclusion of everything else. The objective is to activate the root while tying it in with the spiritual awakening of the entire nervous system. 

    In the lessons we use two primary physical methods for physical stimulation of the root – mulabandha/asvini (compression of the anal sphincter) and siddhasana (sitting on the heel). But there is much more to stimulating the root than physical action.

    A very important method is the one that ties the muladhara up into the entire nervous system energetically -- spinal breathing, which involves breath with attention cycling between the third eye and root. Deep meditation also does this integration of everything "globally" in the nervous system by bringing the mind and body to divine stillness.

    With samyama, there can be some bouncing also while using the "lightness" technique. It comes from inside, a mental technique only, and the root gets bumped during spontaneous hopping. But focus on muladhara is the last thing in mind while this is happening, because the whole body is filling with light and wanting to lift up. 

    It can be a distraction putting too much attention on the muladhara. It is part of a much greater whole, and we should not become too fixated on it. I suggest you let the muladhara fit in naturally as part of the whole of practices. Allow yourself to go beyond muladhara, higher, through the methods of body, mind and breath. Some letting go in the lower center(s) will not hurt. Then you will be free to do more work higher up in the body. For example, have you tried the "chin pump?" It is a physical method that is very profound, and is covered here in the lessons. It is done high in the body, and ties the muladhara/root in with the illumination of the heart, throat, and head.

    Let me add that it is possible to address just about everything physically necessary in the muladhara by sitting in siddhasana during practices while the attention goes to all the other methods higher up. In this sense, using siddhasana to stimulate muladhara is a "no-brainer." Once siddhasana is mastered, then everything (spinal breathing, meditation, mulabandha, sambhavi, kechari, nauli, chin pump, kumbhaka, samyama, etc.) can be done without attention being distracted. "Mastered" means able to stay in siddhasana with constant stimulation with attention not stuck on muladhara, and free to do all the other practices. It is not difficult to develop the habit, because siddhasana requires no effort to stay in once established. That is the best situation - stimulation at the muladhara with attention completely free to do all the other practices that open the entire nervous system.

    Muladhara is the essential beginning of kundalini awakening, but it is not the end. Just as the basement is the essential beginning of a tall building, but the best views are definitely higher up. It is common sense, yes? 

    It is in the integration of a range of practices covering the whole nervous system where huge power is found in yoga. Patanjali's eight limbs of yoga support this view. Any one or two practices done to the exclusion of the others is not the most effective yoga. I suggest you avoid the trap of being stuck on one or two aspects of your nervous system. It takes integrated practices to coax the nervous system to purify and open fully. If this were not so, we would be seeing many more enlightened people in the world today. It is time for a change to more integrated systems of practice, which means balanced consideration of our nervous system and the methods for stimulating it to purify and open. 

    The guru is in you.

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

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    Samyama: Lightness, lurching … and levitation?

    Wednesday, May 29, 2013, 12:05 PM [General]

    Q: I'm doing the sutras about a week and having good feelings since the beginning. Tonight during the lightness one I got a rise of energy that also felt good making me feel very light inside. Then I started to shake and lurch. My arms were going up and down and I was shaking and I thought I was going to yell, but I didn't. I don't know where it all came from. The next thing I knew I was near the foot of the bed and I don't know how I got there from the head of the bed where I was sitting with crossed legs. I went back to the head of the bed and started again and it happened again. This time I peeked when the lurching started after the sutra and saw my body hop from one end of the bed to the other. I did it a few more times and then lay down feeling like every nerve in my body had an enema. Is this levitation, or is it just physical? Whatever it is it feels good during and after, so it must be an ok practice. I want to keep it up. Do you agree? But I'm afraid about going off the end of the bed. Should I move to the floor for this? 

    A: It came from your inner silence, and it is a wonderful start with the lightness sutra. If you feel good afterwards, then keep it up. Make sure you take plenty of rest when coming out of practices. If you are more comfortable doing the lightness sutra on pillows or a mattress on the floor, then do that. You can continue to do the rest of your practices on the bed if you want, and then move to the floor at the end for the lightness sutra. However, you will find that there is not much risk of falling off the bed, as you will be intuitively aware of your location during the practice. It's more likely that the bed will get damaged more than you will during the dynamic beginnings, so that is a good reason to get on the floor also. Make sure you have good thick padding under you. 

    Is it levitation? Well, it is trying to be, isn't it? At this stage there is a lot of purification going on in the nervous system and the body is responding to the energy surging through by lurching and hopping. In time it will settle down and be much smoother, and the movements will become very subtle. There will be more energy moving inside and less external indication of it.

    Movement and dramatic sensations inside (including ecstasy) are caused by friction in the nervous system as the energy moves through, blowing out the obstructions in large quantities. Karmic debris is getting cleaned out in a wholesale fashion. Hence that feeling of having the nerves purged. That's the great power of samyama. It enables us to systematically purge the nervous system from the inside with relatively little discomfort. Getting purged by using samyama is usually very pleasurable. This is because, when samyama becomes functional in our nervous system, we already have sufficient inner silence available to enable it. So it is pure bliss consciousness that is surging out through our nervous system in response to the sutras, and that's why it feels so good. It is silent bliss moving out through us in large quantities. It benefits all of our other practices, and everyone who is within miles of us as well. 

    With the lightness sutra, as the obstructions become less over time there is less friction and the movements refine. The same happens with the experiences with the rest of the sutras. It all becomes very smooth, pleasurable, and light.

    Whatever experiences come as samyama practice advances over time will be a by-product of the purification in our nervous system. By the time we are having more advanced experiences (siddhis), they will not be nearly as pleasurable or attractive as the divine love and joy we will be naturally radiating in every direction in every moment. 

    The guru is in you.

    Note: For detailed instructions on samyama practice, covering multiple applications, see the AYP Samyama book.

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    Samyama: “Let go and let God”

    Tuesday, May 28, 2013, 11:08 AM [General]

    Q: I don't think I knew what life was about until I came to this group. Your lessons on samyama have blown me away. I am filling up with light and joy every time I do the sutras, and overflowing with it. I finally know what the words mean: "Let go and let God." Namaste!

    A: Yes, let go and let God is what samyama is about. We just give a subtle angle with a sutra and let go, and our inner silence does the rest. With a range of sutras, we can expand with our inner silence in every direction. 

    In easy deep meditation we follow the ancient maxim: "Be still, and know I am God." 

    Then we do samyama, letting go into our divine stillness, and it becomes clear how we are capable of expressing radiant harmony in this world.

    The guru is in you.

    Note: For detailed instructions on samyama practice, covering multiple applications, see the AYP Samyama book.

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    Yoga Sutra translations, and on becoming “super-normal”

    Thursday, May 23, 2013, 9:32 AM [General]

    Q: Thank you again for your lessons!!! Two questions if I may. Could you possibly recommend a good translation of Pantajali's Yoga Sutras? Lastly, in working with the sutras I found my chest feel as if it was expanding, as well as my head - It was quite extraordinary. Is this normal? You spoke of the different ways of the energy manifesting and I was just wondering if this too is one of those manifestations? With love and unity. 

    A: There are many translations of the Yoga Sutras out there. Here is one that is pretty good: 

    This can also be found in the links section of the group under, "Yoga Sutras - International Translations." On this site there are links to 29 more English translations (many with commentaries), plus translations in 17 other languages, plus the original Sanskrit. I have not read them all! 

    If you are wondering where the eight limbs are described, it starts in Book 2-29. 

    Book 3 is on samyama and supernormal powers. By the way, the idea of becoming "super-normal" is pretty appealing, isn't it? -- As in very, very normal. Normal for human beings is enlightened. So why not become super-normal?

    Yes, your expansion is (super) normal, a beautiful indication of your silence moving out from inside. This is samyama in action. Many different things can happen. There can be more expansion, inner sensory experiences, strong emotions, laughing, crying, physical vibrations, and new kinds of breathing. It is all about obstacles being dissolved as inner silence moves out through the nervous system as a result of our practices, now with samyama added. The nervous system knows what to do as pure bliss consciousness moves through it. If symptoms become excessive, just use self-pacing in your practices. If necessary, that can mean paring back on the number of repetitions in samyama for a while. Always take plenty of rest coming out of meditation and samyama. That is important to facilitate stable energy flows in daily activity.

    All of these symptoms are normal releases and are signs of the emergence of inner divinity. It is okay to let them happen. If your body wants to move or shake, let it, but not to hazardous extreme. If breathing changes, let it, but not to hazardous extreme. If emotions come, let them, but not to hazardous extreme. If sexual arousal comes (and it can) let it, but not to hazardous extreme. It is all normal as divine energy bubbles out through the nervous system from the inside. 

    I am reminded of a passage in Swami Muktananda's book, "Play of Consciousness," where he described a certain stage in his journey when he'd go out of his house and roar like a tiger. Needless to say, the neighbors were a bit concerned. There's no need to carry it that far. 

    At times along the path it might seem that there is not much happening with our inner energy. Maybe things are being loosened underneath without many symptoms, and later we will notice something. Or maybe we are waiting for inner silence to come up with more weeks and months of meditation. Or maybe we are not letting go with the subtle feeling of the sutra in samyama. Sometimes doing nothing is a bit tricky - just not favoring anything that comes up in the mind during that fifteen seconds in silence. 

    Successful yoga is not about experiences; it is about following the procedures of our practices. We are changed by practices, not by experiences. Experiences are the by-product of our practices and the resulting spiritual transformation that is going on. 

    Also remember that immediate responses coming up from sutras should also be let go during samyama. It is the ultimate karma yoga - divine doing while letting go of the fruit of the doing. It is built into the technique of samyama - doing and letting go of doing. So samyama is also cultivation of the outflowing of divine love which expects nothing in return. If we do our samyama that way, in time we will become radiating beacons of divine light floating in the air. 

    Then who will be able to deny what we human beings are? Who will not want to become super-normal? 

    The guru is in you.

    Note: For detailed instructions on samyama practice, covering multiple applications, see the AYP Samyama book.

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    Thinking about meanings versus doing samyama practice

    Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 9:15 AM [General]

    Q: Now I'm a little confused, I thought we were to just think the word and then let it go. This recent response sounds like we should meditate or think about it. Another question - I am getting these bursts of feelings/energy within my body throughout the day. They can be localized and I seem to have some control over them. I am assuming they are kundalini. My question is this - are they just a pleasant aftermath or is something being released?

    A: Yes, you are right. Just pick up the sutra as a faint idea and let it go. Then 15 seconds of silence. The discussions on meaning have nothing to do with performance of the samyama practice itself. Some people are going through some clarification, settling in with meanings, finding their own ecology. We have many languages in the group, so you can imagine what everyone is going through. As everyone settles in, the meanings go to subconscious. That is not part of the practice of samyama. It is just like, "What is akasha?... Okay, that is what it is." Then just forget it and do samyama on the words, the sutra. The meaning is in there. We don't ponder it during samyama. We just pick up the sutra faintly, and then let go.

    The pleasurable "bursts" are very good. Inner silence is moving in you from your samyama. It can be experienced in many ways. Another lesson (on becoming "super-normal") has been posted today with more details on that. Many are having similar experiences. No need to "control" experiences. They are natural. Let them happen, within reason. They are the release of obstructions and the emergence of divine energy. They will stabilize to steadiness over time -- more natural silent bliss and ecstatic radiance in life. Samyama is doing yoga from the inside out, added to our practices that go from the outside in.

    The early results many are having with samyama are very impressive. Bravo! 

    The guru is in you.

    Note: For detailed instructions on samyama practice, covering multiple applications, see the AYP Samyama book.

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    Samyama: Settling in with your sutras

    Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 10:33 AM [General]

    Q: I am a little bit confused over how we are supposed to relate to the sutras. Radiance and Unity are for me very vague and ambivalent - for me they are pretty much context words where as Love is self-explanatory. Why do we choose the particular sutras, take "strength" -somebody would argue that agility can be more useful. What about pratyahara and akasha? If you've never experienced those things then they are as meaningless as mantras. Where does the eventual effect then come from? Can you add personal sutras or is this hazardous? Some people may for example desire more humility in themselves. I hope this will help you with filling the gaps of my understanding. Thanks for all the time you put into this group - it's a real goldmine!

    A: At first I thought to give specific definitions for each sutra, but decided not to, as each person will find their own "ecology" with meanings within their own language and culture, just as you are finding yours now. It is as it should be. Some settling in time is normal.

    Someone else wrote saying they don't know what Love is, and liked all the rest. So, everyone will be different. The individual meanings are not as crucial as the overall practice, for everyone will eventually come into their own right meanings. Samyama will stimulate the rise of inner silence using the full range of sutras, which, taken all together, purify and open the entire nervous system. 

    As for changing sutras, it is up to you. If "humility" is not contained in "Love" for you, then add it. If "Radiance" is not clear, use "Divine Radiance" or "Outflowing Light." If "Unity" is unclear, use "Oneness." Or, maybe those clarifications will give you comfort in using the originals. 

    Akasha is best understood as living inner space - alive emptiness. Almost pure bliss consciousness itself. Our body is that - energy in vast empty space. There is nothing much here. Only the appearance of something. Akasha means that. Then, in the sutra "Akasha - Lightness of Air" we let it go into silence, and everything moves in us to manifest lightness. Whoosh! Don't worry too much about meanings. The necessary knowledge is inside. It doesn't take much to set the right direction. 

    Pratyahara is not offered as a sutra - "Inner Sensuality" is, which will enliven the senses inward. There is a lesson a month or so back (#121) on pratyahara which should make the meaning of this clear. It is also discussed in the lesson before last on the eight limbs of yoga.

    Picking sutras is not exact science. Commit to a good list for yourself and go with it. You can't wander too far off track if you stay with the basic range of meanings. There are plenty more in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, many far more abstract than the ones given here. The idea is to cover the whole of body/mind/heart, stimulating inner silence out through it. This will purify and open the important channels (nadis) in the nervous system. Once you settle in with samyama, it is suggested you not change sutras around often. We want to go deep, and that will be difficult if we keep moving the location of our digging. For the same reason we stay stable with our mantra, except for occasional enhancements when we are ready to "shift gears" to broaden our presence in pure bliss consciousness. 

    As your habit of samyama develops through daily practice, you will gradually find all of your thinking and feeling during daily activity naturally originating deeper inside. This is the ultimate benefit of doing samyama practice. It cultivates the habit of living and expressing from the level of divine silence in us. Then we find increasing success and happiness in everything we do. It is a habit of thinking and doing we are cultivating. So, while the choice of each sutra is important, it is the overall effects of the full range of sutras in our everyday life we are really after. 

    Q: Thank you very much for your reply. It clarified things. I just wonder, some people say that Akasha has the meaning of spirit. It's the fifth tattva, in the European esoteric tradition equivalent with the fifth element spirit - ruler of the other elements. I'm not familiar with the Indian words, but it is interesting anyway.

    A: Akasha is the last stepping off point before unmanifest pure bliss consciousness, the infinite silence within us which is the essence of all that is. In all traditions there is a necessity to assign mythological deities, rulers, authority figures, to the various levels of functioning in nature. It has to do with the natural human need for an ishta (chosen ideal), which stimulates bhakti and spiritual growth. This is how bhakti works, and it is very important that we have it in some form. However, we don't want to get all wrapped up in flights of bhakti during the practice of samyama. We just easily pick up the sutra very faintly and let it go into silence. It is important not to favor flights of contemplation with the mind or rituals of worship during samyama. We can do that later. Samyama, like deep meditation, is a specific practice that we favor during the time we are doing it. 

    The body as "akasha" (living empty space) is the first step of the two-part lightness sutra. The second part, "lightness of air," moves inner silence, and our akasha-body with it. But it can only happen if we let the sutra go into silence. So it is with all divine manifestation, which includes everything in the cosmos. Everything we see and know emanates from vibrations flowing out from pure bliss consciousness. 

    John 1.1: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... All things were made by the Word..."

    The basic principles of samyama are behind all temporal manifestation.

    For the sake of our enlightenment, we can enter into this divine creative process within ourselves. 

    The guru is in you.

    Note: For detailed instructions on samyama practice, covering multiple applications, see the AYP Samyama book.

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