NAYASWAMIS JYOTISH and DEVI explain how we can experience the deepest states in meditation, and feel our unity with God
Someone in deep meditation seems similar to one who is asleep: body completely relaxed, senses shut down. Other parts, however, are aglow: Energy has been completely withdrawn into the spine and forepart of the brain. A master of yoga could consciously bring all his energy into a laser-like focus which energises the spiritual eye, uplifts his consciousness, and eventually raises him to the state of Self-realisation.
The first step is relaxation, that is a result of withdrawing tension and energy from any area, a process normally only partly under our command. But for deep meditation we must learn deep relaxation, which requires conscious control of the life-force.
The biggest challenge in meditation is overcoming mental restlessness. When you try to meditate, you will find that your mind wanders, not because you are meditating, but simply because you are now quiet enough to finally see how the mind constantly skips from thought to thought in a free-association wonderland.
Concentration focuses the power of the mind. To succeed in anything, whether in business, sports, or academics, we must be able to concentrate deeply on the task at hand. And yet, we are rarely taught how to concentrate.
There are a number of extremely effective yogic techniques to improve concentration. Among the most effective are techniques that work with the breath.
The link between energy, breath, and mind is such that if you excite one, the other two become excited and, conversely, if you calm one, the other two grow calm also. If your mind becomes excited, from a sudden fright perhaps, see how your breath also speeds up, and how your muscles fill with energy in preparation for action.
Breath is the most outward and, therefore, the easiest of these three linked elements to control. Control your breath and see how quickly it influences your thoughts, and not only in meditation. The next time you’re in a tense situation, observe the effect of taking several slow, deep breaths.
The science of yoga has long recognised that breathing exercises can exert a powerful influence on the mind. In fact, there are many different breathing techniques, pranayama: “control of subtle energy.” They slow respiration, focus the mind, and calm the emotions. Most importantly, they allow us to influence the flow of life-force in the body and mind. The reason yoga techniques are so powerful is that they give us a means to control this subtle energy, called prana in Sanskrit. Prana is finer than the electromagnetic forces of this physical universe. It is the primordial sea of energy from which the very atoms emerge.
Prana is too subtle for most people to perceive. But because prana is directly connected to breath, we influence it indirectly by working with our inhalation and exhalation, which is relatively easy to do. One technique for doing so, known as Hong-Sau, has been widely practised in India for thousands of years, and was taught by Paramhansa Yogananda as well. With the help of such a technique, we can focus 100 per cent of our life-force at the point between the eyebrows (the spiritual eye), the seat of concentration in the body. Only then can we experience the deepest states in meditation, and feel our unity with God.
Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi are spiritual directors of Ananda Sangha Worldwide. Ananda Sangha was founded in 1968 by a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yoganandaji, Swami Kriyananda.
Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi pic courtesy: ananda.org