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Note: For the Original Internet Lessons with additions, see the AYP Easy Lessons Books. For the Expanded and Interactive Internet Lessons, AYP Online Books, Audiobooks and more, see AYP Plus.

Lesson 244 - Going for a Smooth Start in Meditation and Pranayama  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: Wed Jan 5, 2005 4:30pm

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

Q1: I have gleaned the net for much information and a way to start my devotion to the One. Something inside me keeps telling me that I have much more to do than what I am doing in this Maya covered world. I am still not able to fall into a routine for my meditation although everyday I am getting firmer and try to do the routine for as much time as I can be it 5 min or 15 min.

I am facing 2 very odd problems that I am hoping you can give me some clue about. Firstly, whenever I try to do meditation I cannot feel my perineum and secondly when I try to visualize my breath going up my spine I realize that I just sort of glide along my spine. More like as if my mind is just skimming through the spine and I can't concentrate on a slow movement along the spine. On the way down my vision remains only until the end of the spine and I cannot go down to the perineum, as I cannot feel it. Secondly whenever I sit for meditation, be it spinal breathing or just a normal Ham-Sah, or no mind meditation, my heart beat becomes very rapid. I can almost feel the pounding strong and regular in every part of my body. My legs which might be in siddhasana or Padmasana can feel the throbbing of the heart in them.

What could be wrong, or is this normal? I can not feel any energy at all and it makes me wonder if it's there or not or maybe something is wrong with me. My devotion tells me that I have much to work and this is the time but my mind keeps asking me if all is right. Can you please guide me in this? 

A1: Thank you for writing and sharing. 

It sounds like you are going through "clunky" beginning stages there with your practice. 

The first thing to do is set aside the time twice daily and commit to do your sitting practice for a few months so it can settle in. Then a regular habit will be easy to sustain. 

Next, if you are following the AYP lessons, you should first do easy mantra meditation, not taking on cross-legged sitting, spinal breathing or anything else. Just meditation sitting in a comfortable position. It sounds like you may be taking on too much at once. Just do deep meditation for a few weeks or months and see how that goes. Your pulse should settle down naturally as you do meditation as instructed, easily using the mantra to go to stillness of mind and body (the heart will become quiet too) -- review the lesson series on meditation beginning at #13. 

Once you have a steady routine of meditation going for some weeks (or months), then you can think about crossed legs. Then, when that is getting easy, you can add spinal breathing. One step at a time, you know. Rome was not built in a day. When you get to it in a few months, the spinal breathing will be easy also. No strain or judgment about it. Just up and down with the breath -- it is not an exact thing. As the nervous system begins to be cleared out a bit the route will become very easy and smooth. No heavy concentration is necessary -- intense concentration is an obstruction to natural spinal breathing. A lot of effort is not necessary. Nothing has to be "felt" in the body at any particular time. The attention just goes easily up and down with breath between brow and root, like that. It is not a monumental task. If we drift off, we just easily come back to it. This is covered in the lessons. 

You can go step by step through all the practices like that. It will take months (at least) to assimilate each practice, so the whole thing will take a long time to get into. It is all there for you, but you have to go step by step, or it can be messy, like you are experiencing now. 

Energy experiences are not a measurement criteria for the success of meditation or pranayama. In fact, they are usually a distraction. So it is suggested you forget about energy experiences for now -- they will be distracting you soon enough, and then it becomes a matter of easily letting them go in favor of the practice we are doing. The truest measure of right meditation and pranayama is in how we feel afterward during our daily activities. If we feel refreshed with more inner stability, energy and creativity, then that indicates our practice is correct.

Whatever happens in sitting practices is not to be judged as right or wrong, worthy or unworthy. We just follow the easy procedure and that is right practice. In meditation, when we realize we are off, we just easily come back to the mantra. It is like that in all the practices. 

Beating yourself up over it is not encouraged. This is not a fundamentalist system of yoga! 

It is also good to commit to one kind of practice and do it daily for a while. If it is good, then maybe for a lifetime. Then we are digging our well in one place, instead of making small unproductive holes all over the place. With one deep well, we are sure to find water. For that reason, using only one kind of meditation is advised. 

Your divine desire is very good, and it will take you far. Just be patient and take it one step at a time. I wish you all success on your chosen spiritual path. Enjoy!

Q2: Thank you for answering my questions. So if I understand completely I should first practice just to sit still and fixate my mind on the pranava or OM and steady the mind. Once I can sit for periods of time with this then I would be ready for the next steps that involve spinal breathing.

"Yama (restraint), Niyama (observance), Asana (posture), Pranayama (regulation of breath), Pratyahara (withholding of senses), Dharana (fixed attention), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (perfect concentration) are the eight means of attaining Yoga."

This is what the Patanjali says about Yoga and I find all that you say in line with this. My mind can see this very clearly. Even in my normal life I am restrained, calm and easy. In the back of my mind I am constantly observing what I am doing like a silent witness. I also am great at understanding emotions and understand what Samskara and this materialistic world is about. It's like I am looking at it through a hazy film. I am distantly aware of everything and so when I try to be a no mind thinking I tend to fall into it immediately because I am not even thinking of most things since they have to do with material nature. I don't know if I am making much sense. All the time I am contemplating the Lord and, yet, in some way these material ties won't let go of me. I know it's time I look inside me in more depth and the solution will present itself. Thank you for guiding me along this. I feel at much ease and you said the things I had wanted to know and hear. It's just like the Guru in me spoke to me and now I know what to do. I hope I have enough time in this lifetime to make it across...

Om Tat Sat

A2: Yes, the suggestion is to take it easy, and one step at a time.

OM may not be the best mantra to use right now, as it can tear up the nervous system if prerequisite purification is not done. In AYP we start with "I AM" for mantra, using it in the specific easy way discussed in the lessons -- no intense concentration. Later on, OM is incorporated in a mantra enhancement. Look in the topic index on the web site under "mantra" for the corresponding lessons. 

Your inner silence is good. You just need to find a steady routine of practice and then you can build on it. If you have any more internal restlessness (fast pulse, etc.), check lessons #160 and #200 for discussions on dealing with high sensitivity to meditation. We all have to learn "self-pacing" -- how to regulate our practices in accordance with our experiences. You can find lots of lessons on "self-pacing" in the topic index also.

Yes, it is your time, and you can move quickly with a good daily routine of practice. It is an honor to have you here. 

The guru is in you.

See this complete instructional lesson and all the expanded and interactive AYP Plus lessons at: 

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Note: For detailed instructions on deep meditation, see the AYP Deep Meditation book.  For detailed instructions on spinal breathing, see the AYP Spinal Breathing Pranayama book. Also see AYP Plus.

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