Advanced Yoga Practices
Lesson 299 - Cosmic Samyama - Advanced Yoga Nidra (Audio)
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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?"
With a good foundation of daily deep meditation and "core samyama" practice in place, well stabilized within our overall routine of practices for some time, we will find ourselves in a position to consider further applications of samyama. Indeed, it is natural to desire more, building on the practice routine we have prudently established. Fortunately we can do this in ways that do not overwhelm our schedule and busy life. We seek a good balance between our practices and daily living. We need both to assure our spiritual progress.
In this lesson, and upcoming ones, we will explore expanded applications of samyama that can provide increased practical benefits in our daily life and for all whom we serve, without greatly increasing our time in practices each day.
The additional applications of samyama we will discuss are decidedly more quantitative, designed to enhance the flow of pure bliss consciousness through us on the physical plane. None of these should be considered to be a replacement for our primary samyama practice as discussed in Lesson 150 and follow-up lessons. Rather, these are logical expansions in practice that bring many additional benefits.
Sooner or later we will find ourselves moving naturally into the areas we will now be discussing. Perhaps you are already. All of yoga will be percolating within us as we continue to advance along our path of daily practice.COSMIC SAMYAMA AND YOGA NIDRA
It has been said that the entire cosmos is contained within each of us. Perhaps that is what is meant by the phrase, "Humanity is created in God's image." Regardless of what has been postulated by mystics, theologians and philosophers, it is a fact that most everyone at one time or other in this life has felt a kinship with the whole of creation. As we undertake deep meditation, spinal breathing pranayama, samyama and other yoga practices, this feeling of Oneness gradually increases, in time becoming a full time experience.
Somewhere along the way, we might ask, "Is there a way to accelerate this rising sense of unity I am feeling?"
If we continue our practices, it will most certainly continue to grow, for it is only ourselves we are discovering. Whatever That is, we will come to know it by direct experience. No one else's word has to be taken as gospel. Direct experience will tell the tale. So let's move on to that.
There is an additional procedure of samyama we can utilize that can enhance two aspects of our unfoldment.
First is aiding in the perception of our cosmic dimensions. This is applying samyama in a way that is quantitative, meaning we are addressing and integrating the furthest reaches of our physical dimensions in samyama practice.
Second is enhancing our experience of yoga nidra, which means yogic sleep. Yoga nidra is not primarily about sleep really. It is about further stabilizing our inner silence, the witness, which is known to coexist with our other states of consciousness - waking state, dreaming sleep state, and deep dreamless sleep state. When we are awake, we tend to call inner silence the witness, among other things. In sleep, inner silence is also called yoga nidra, or yogic sleep. It is the same thing.
Inner silence is also called turiya, which means the fourth state, which can be present during any of the other three states - waking, dreaming sleep or deep sleep. The further we go along the path of yoga, the more inner silence we will have present all the time, twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week (24/7).
The new procedure of samyama we are introducing here bears some resemblance to so-called guided meditation methods that are used to promote yoga nidra. So, some might say, "Oh, this is a yoga nidra practice. AYP is finally offering a yoga nidra practice!"
But, it isn't really, because this is not an externally guided meditation practice. It is self-directed and can be done anywhere without external assistance, recordings or other props. Only your nervous system is needed. It involves the systematic use of samyama, which is another major difference from the multitude of externally guided meditation practices out there.
We call it cosmic samyama. It is an advanced form of yoga nidra.
Cosmic samyama expands our sense of physical presence within and beyond our body. This is an expansion of our awareness in a way that transcends the physical, while cultivating the yoga nidra (stillness) effect. The more cosmic we become, the more we become infinite awareness, not bound by any physical dimensions. As we expand our awareness to encompass all that is physical, the physical evaporates into the vastness of our inner space. It is one of those paradoxes we find in yoga. The paradox is resolved by direct experience, so let's get into it.
First, it is recommended that cosmic samyama not be undertaken until our regular sitting samyama practice (Lesson 150) is well-established and stable for at least several months, preferably longer. Each new practice we add brings new layers of purification and opening in our nervous system. This is a good thing. But if we do not stabilize each practice before taking on the next one, there can be excessive energy flow, discomfort, and the necessity to discontinue some or all of our practices for a time. Obviously, this does not foster progress. So, the best course in taking on new practices is a measured one. Keep in mind that the full effects of inner purification and opening with any new practice will take months to be realized - sometimes years. So, please do step carefully and always remember to self-pace. The more advanced we become, the more important prudent self-pacing becomes.
Cosmic samyama is a practice we will do while lying on our back, relaxed with eyes closed. It is similar to the corpse pose utilized at the end of our yoga asana routine, except we elevate our head on a pillow or two and rest our hands easily on our solar plexus, the area between the navel and the bottom of the ribs. Our legs can lie flat and easy. This can be done on the bed, if desired. If we are not in a place where we are able to lie down, then we just lean back in whatever place we happen to be sitting. The key thing is to be comfortable.
Cosmic samyama can be performed at the end of our sitting practices, using a predetermined series of sutras. It then becomes the first part of our rest period after all of our sitting practices are finished. We also have the option to do it right before we go to sleep at night.
The practice is similar to our regular sitting samyama routine, with an additional element - the physical location of our awareness with the sutras. We use a specific sequence of sutras for cosmic samyama and use them in the same way every time we practice. We go through them once, with one repetition of each sutra. When we pick up each sutra, we let our awareness naturally go to the location the sutra is associated with. When we let go of the sutra for the 15-second interval, we do it from the designated location of the sutra, allowing our attention to release from that location. The result will be an expansion of awareness from that location.
For example, the first sutra we use in cosmic samyama is Feet. When we lie down at the end of our sitting practices, we relax for a minute or two, and then pick up the first sutra, Feet. At the same time we pick up the location of our feet. As soon as we have picked up the sutra at the designated location, we let it go. As with sitting samyama, picking up the sutra (and location in this case) is faint and fuzzy. We let it go at the location of our awareness, at the feet. From there it is in the hands of our inner silence. We may feel some expansion occurring in the area of our feet. Or maybe not. Whatever happens will be taken care of by our inner silence. When about 15 seconds have passed, we go on to the next sutra, and so on all the way through, with one repetition of each sutra at the designated location, and letting go.
We have 16 sutras for cosmic samyama. When we have completed the series, in about five minutes or so, we rest for at least another five minutes to allow the effects of our samyama to stabilize before we get up. If we feel some irritability after we are out of practices for a while, it will be a possible sign of not taking enough rest before getting up.
Let's list all of the sutras now, along with indications of their corresponding locations, as applicable. For those whose first language is not English, these sutras may be translated as desired for easiest recognition. The sutras are:
Feet - both feet
Knees - both knees
Root - perineum/anus
Sex - center of pelvic region
Navel - navel/solar plexus area
Heart - center of chest behind the breastbone
Throat - hollow of throat
Eye - center brow, extending back to center of head and down into the brain stem
Crown - a point one hand's width (five fingers) above the top of head
Unbounded AwarenessWhen using these sutras, we do not repeat the location description mentally, only the sutra itself. So when picking up the word Feet, we do not think "both feet." We just let our attention embrace both feet, and then let go of both sutra and physical location of attention from there. All of this very faint and fuzzy. Likewise, when we pick up the word Knees, we do not think "both knees." We pick up the sutra at the location of both knees and let go. And so on...
No doubt it is noticed that no location is given for the sutras from Earth onward. So where is Earth? Is it the Earth we are on, teeming with life, or is it the lovely blue ball seen from a distance in vast empty space both outside and inside us. It is all of these, so we don't specify a location. Earth is Earth, and we use the sutra only. The word contains all that Earth is, including its location. The same goes for Moon, Sun, Solar System, Galaxy and Cosmos. Where are all of these things? They are in us and around us in the vastness of infinite inner and outer space. So we use them as sutra words only. Deep in inner silence, we know them intimately.
And where is Unbounded Awareness? Well, it is the same as Cosmos, yes? Everywhere within us and around us. So we just pick up the outer space/inner space sutras for what they are, using our normal samyama technique, and we will have the result.
While it takes millions of years for light to traverse the physical universe, we can instantly encompass and manifest everything from within our pure bliss consciousness with the simple technique of cosmic samyama. Our mind dissolved in stillness can travel infinitely faster than the speed of light. In time, this will lead to a redefinition of physical laws as we currently understand them. But that is another subject.
Recall that cosmic samyama is for integrating our inner and outer physical dimensions in consciousness. Inner and outer are the same. Even though we are infinite both inside and outside, there is no distance or time. Our awareness contains all of space and time. On the level of our samyama practice, the now of pure bliss consciousness is everything, and everything pours out from That.
The expansion of awareness utilizing the cosmic samyama sutras is by orders of magnitude to the infinite, both within us and outside us. Our wondrous Earth is but a speck in our solar system. Our sun is one of billions in our galaxy. And our galaxy is infinitesimally small in the vast cosmos. Yet, it is all contained within us - within our unbounded awareness. The cosmos is us, and we are the cosmos.
By engaging in cosmic samyama, we are dissolving the yogic paradox, finding that the entire cosmos and all of eternity are consciously contained within this tiny human form, this human being. We come to know that this consciousness of ours is synonymous with the cosmos. Cosmic samyama is for advancing our direct experience of That.
A noticeable effect of this inner and outer cosmic merging is the stabilization of unbounded awareness. So much so that we may find ourselves becoming absorbed in it during practice, and more aware of it as abiding with us outside practice in everyday living. This is normal. It is the quality of yoga nidra. Once we complete our rest period and get up from our cosmic samyama, the deep silence and sense of cosmic universality we have gained will be carried out into our daily activity, and influence our actions accordingly. It is important that we keep up normal activity to stabilize the experience. Cosmic samyama and yoga nidra are not a departure from this world. Rather, through cosmic samyama and the yoga nidra effect, the infinite is brought into this world through us, and into all of our actions. Our life becomes a constant outpouring of divine love, which we also call "stillness in action."
If we find ourselves wandering off during cosmic samyama practice, we just easily pick up where we left off. If we do wander off, it can be into a state of unbounded awareness. We might feel that we are asleep, but fully awake inside at the same time. This is yoga nidra - yogic sleep. It is a common experience in cosmic samyama. We are, after all, the infinite pure bliss consciousness behind it all. If we have wandered off and time has run out by the time we realize we have not completed our sutras, it is okay to discontinue our sutras, take some rest and get up. Or, if we have time, we can continue to the end of our sutras, no matter how long it takes.
It is also common to become absorbed in yoga nidra for some time during rest after our cosmic samyama practice. If we drift off into yoga nidra after our morning or afternoon practice, we will get up feeling extra refreshed. If we have practiced at bedtime, it can be a good way to go to sleep. We may be watching ourselves restfully sleeping all night. It's a good thing. However, cosmic samyama is not recommended to be used in combination with so-called lucid dreaming practices. This can cause imbalances in the nervous system leading to sleep deprivation, which is not beneficial for our health and wellbeing. If sleep deprivation is occurring in relation to cosmic samyama, then self-pacing of the practice should be applied, such as doing it only after sitting practices and not before going to sleep at night until we can do so without disrupting our sleep. We need our sleep!
Cosmic samyama gradually cultivates an enhanced foundation of inner silence during our daily activities, and a much greater sense of unity in all that we undertake. This is a big boost to all of our other yoga practices as well, including our sitting core samyama practice.
If we experience excess energy flow occurring as a result of our cosmic samyama, we self-pace accordingly, like we do with any of our practices. Because we are using one repetition for each sutra and location, self-pacing of cosmic samyama would mean reducing the number of sessions in a day. So, if we are doing cosmic samyama after both of our sitting practice routines, and again at bedtime, and are having too much purification occurring during the day (usually in the form of irritability) or at night (as sleeplessness), then we can reduce the number of sessions for a while until there is stabilization.
We may find that cosmic samyama offers additional balance, reducing energy imbalances within the body related to overdoing in other yoga practices. Cosmic samyama expands and balances the flow of our energies between inner and outer expression, reducing the congestion that can occur within the nervous system. This balancing effect is delicate, and depends largely on the degree of purification we have achieved previously at the crown with our other practices. This is why it is preferable to have a stable routine of sitting practices well established prior to undertaking cosmic samyama. From there, we can proceed with our expanded opening, reaching far within and beyond the physical body. Then we may find that cosmic samyama serves as a stabilizing factor for everything else that is going on inside us.
The sutras we are using in cosmic samyama are universal points of awareness that unfold our infinite dimensions, inside and outside our body. As we move ahead, we will find both to be aspects of the same reality, all manifesting from the same infinite sea of our unbounded silent awareness, like waves on the great ocean. We are that ocean.
The guru is in you.
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