Prajna Yoga -- 24
How meditation leads to inner awakening.
Meditation is the most important aspect of the eight-fold path of spiritual sadhana, which leads the seeker to the final goal of Self - realisation.
Once a seeker begins to meditate, he or she enters the area of inner awakening. Some people call it awakening of the inner Prana Sakti--the bio energy--or the Kundalini Sakti. This awakening indicates a point of no return and final liberation is only a matter of time. It may take anything from 12 Ghatikas (about five hours) to 12 incarnations. There are stumbling blocks on the way.
Let us now discuss a few known techniques of meditation. Individual seekers will find one or the other technique more suitable. All of them lead to the same goal. Only the approach is different.
The simplest technique for a beginner is the Yoga Nidra or the sleep of a Yogi. In Yoga, there are four states of consciousness. The first state is Jagriti or the state of being awake. At this point the inner self resides in the Ajna Chakra, between the two eyebrows. The second state is a state of dreams when the inner self rests in the throat. The third state is that of deep sleep when the Atman rests in the heart. This state is attained through Yoga Nidra. We shall discuss the fourth state—turiya-later.
Considerable work has been done by the Yogashakti Mission and the Bihar School of Yoga in developing simple techniques for Yoga Nidra.
This work has found extensive application in the treatment of hypertension and heart disease all over the world. For a beginner this is a very easy way of experiencing meditation. It is conducted by an experienced therapist, who enables the subject to draw his/her consciousness inwards through a process of auto-suggestion. A similar process developed in the West is known as bio-feedback.
The practice begins with Savasana--lying flat and relaxing the body completely. Once your breathing becomes slow and deliberate at a rate of four to five cycles per minute, the therapist begins recital of auto-suggestions.
Sample: “I am thinking of my big toe on the left foot. It has no weight to bear. It is rested and relaxed. I am now drawing all the feelings from the toe to place them within my inner self.”
And then, “I am thinking of the first toe in my left foot” .... So it goes on to the tots, the arch of the foot, the heel, the ankle with the pulsating flow of blood to the foot which also is relaxed.
The count of limbs continues to the left calf left knee, thigh and the entire left leg upwards.. .upto the left side, left lung, heart, the shoulder down to the left arm, elbow, forearm, wrist, palm and the fingers--all enumerated one by one, their functions described, relaxed and drawn within.
Away from Thoughts
This is followed by enumeration, relaxation and withdrawal of feeling from each component of the neck, face and head. Similar commands follow from the right fingertips to the toes on the right side. By the time the therapist completes the recital you are already floating on a cloud away from external noises--away from your thoughts. Only the therapist’s recital comes faintly to your ears.
Meanwhile, the centre of your inner consciousness has moved from the forehead to the throat and then the heart. At the right time, the therapist begins his recital to reverse the flow of consciousness to bring back feeling to your limbs and to your senses. You could then say a prayer to the divine being with in you.
Now open your eyes, turn your body to the left and the right, move your toes and fingers and perhaps bend your knees once or twice before your rise to the Sitting position. All this should be done in slow, deliberate and effortless motions. When you finally get up, you will feel calm and composed and full of inner vitality.
Once you experience this process from a good teacher, you can follow it by playing a cassette privately. You could even compose your own auto-suggestions, to include some specific ailing parts of your body and record these on a cassette in your own voice.
The Divine Word
Each one, depending on one’s knowledge, background and personality, will find a particular technique more effective than another. This is because each one is sensitive to different stimulations.
Since inner awakening begins at the Mooladhara Chakra, let us consider a simple process that works on everybody. It is the subtle application of sound and music.
Psychologists maintain that human reaction to loud noise is fear. When we see a war movie, for instance, the combined effect of explosions, gun fire, and the cries of pain have a marked effect on the stomach. That is the area of Mooladhara Chakra.
To move from the fear to the bravery and vigour, let us go back to the historic battles of the Mahabharata (an epic of Indian mythology). It began with the blowing of conch shells. A hunt begins with the sound of a horn and an army begins the day with a fanfare of bugles and trumpets. All these sounds are in the lower scales of the bass octaves.
Take an army on the march. The steps are timed to the rhythm of a large base drum and the reverberations of small side drums. The melody is played on big brass or the drone of bag-pipes. These sounds, too, belong to the lower octaves.
Now consider the effect which best music has on young people. The sounds here are amplified to deafening decibels. In all these instances is a Common element. The melody is in the bass and the baritone ranges of the lower octaves accompanied by percussion from wide diaphragm drums. The effect is the release of latent human energies.
When this music in the lower octaves blends with sharp soprano tones, the total effect is more or less solemn. We see this effect when the music from a large church organ combines with the voices of a youthful choir. At the other end of the spectrum is temple music of large Nagara drums and the sharp tones of bells and cymbals.
Vitality of Primordial Sound
The subtle combination of low bass tones and sharp soprano notes reveals the vitality of the primordial sound, in the symbol of Aum. The first sounds of the vowels A and U which rise from the diaphragm reach up to a nasal sound of M, and help to modulate all the subtle vibrations in the nervous system.
This interaction of music and inner vitality guides us towards the spiritual aspects of our inner selves. Proof of this interaction can be experienced by the seeker using the following technique.
One should first grasp the Yogic interpretation of Mantra vibrations. These are divided into four stages. The first stage is known as Vaikhari or the physical audible sound. These vibrations relate mostly to ordinary spoken words, the sounds of impact and of percussion. The second stage is known as Madhyama or sounds in the middle ranges. These include musical notes of a melody or the chant of a prayer. These two stages form the sonic part of the audible range.
The third stage is known as Pasyanti or sounds that can be seen but not heard, such as the moving lips of a friend at a distance, the passing of a supersonic aircraft or the flash of a distant gun. The fourth stage of sound vibrations is known as Para or subtle or minute vibrations which can be experienced within. This stage can be compared to ultrasonic vibrations in electronics. They generate and release a considerable quantum of energy without actually producing a sound in the audible range.
The process of chanting a mantra is known as the transit from the Japa to the Ajapa-Japa (from chanting in the audible range to the chant that cannot be heard).
This is how you do it. Select a quiet corner, clean it and purify it by burning incense. Spread a soft carpet or blanket and sit down in one of the Asanas recommended for meditation. Relax. Think of the divine being who is omnipotent and then think of your inner self, which is a part of this divine being. Patanjali says, “His name is Pranava” (Yoga Sutra 1-27). Pranava is the descriptive symbol Aum.
Chant the Mantra
If you know the Sanskrit alphabet you will see that the centre of the adjoining sketch indicates a seed letter (or Mantra) Lum. The technique is to chant a combination of the mantra, Aum and Lum. The correct pronunciation of the letter L here is with the nasal half syllable of M.
With your eyes half closed, focus your gaze between the two eyebrows. Take a deep breath and start exhaling very slowly while you chant a long Aum for about 10 seconds This first two seconds should enable you to pronounce the two vowels AU with your voice rising from the midriff region. The remaining eight seconds should be devoted to a continuous humming sound of the letter ‘M.’
Now fix your gaze on the tip of your nose and think of the Mooladhara Chakra. Take a deep breath again and chant the seed Mantra Lum in a rhythmic timing in such a way that you can repeat the Mantra 11 times in a period of 10 seconds while you exhale. Repeat this alternate chanting and breathing of the Mantras, a long Aum and a repeated seed Mantra of Lum for about half- an-hour and watch for the subtle reactions within you.
At each repeated cycle, try to lower the tone and volume of the chant only slightly; so that after 20 minutes, your chant is only a whisper. Thereafter only think of the Mantra and their vibrations within you, which are beyond the audible range. This is Ajapa-Japa.
On the first day, you will experience a feeling of abounding peace all around you. In a few days’ time you will recede into meditation. This then is the domain of sound. In course of time your personality will change considerably and you will experience a tension-free life of tranquility.