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Eleven Key Questions on Samyama (Audio)
AYP Plus Additions:
317.1 - Loss of
Stillness During Samyama (Audio)
Mar 16, 2009
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
As soon as we begin our daily practice of samyama
150), questions are bound to come up. They
can be on subjects ranging from the basics of the technique to new
experiences that can occur. Here we will review eleven key questions on
samyama practice. This review is for newcomers to samyama, and for those who
may have taken on expanded applications beginning with
for cosmic samyama (advanced yoga nidra), samyama with yoga postures, and
using the principles of samyama in prayer.
Q1: Nothing much seems to be happening during
samyama. Am I ready for this?
A1: You are ready if you
sense some abiding inner silence, feel in your heart you are ready, and if
you can sustain a daily practice. As with deep meditation, we do not measure
the results of samyama by what is happening during the practice itself. The
real measure will be in how we feel during our daily activities, in-between
our sittings. If we feel more peace, creativity and happiness in life, that
will be a good indication of results occurring, even if our samyama sittings
are uneventful. This is true of all yoga practices.
The fruit of yoga is
found not in what happens during the practices themselves, but in how they
affect the quality of our life.
Q2: What is the difference between picking up and
releasing the word, Love, and contemplating Love during samyama?
A2: The sutras we use in
samyama are code words for information that is already embedded deep within
us with language. Picking up the sutra alone and releasing it into our inner
silence will merge the full content of meaning automatically with our
resident pure bliss consciousness, just as speaking a word out loud will
automatically convey its meaning externally to anyone who understands our
language. If we understand our language, so does our inner silence, so we
need not worry about conveying meaning with our sutras.
We do not contemplate during
samyama, as this will keep us engaged in thinking and prevent the absorption
of the sutra in inner silence. Less is more when we are going inward. We
just follow the easy procedure for picking up the sutra at that very faint
and fuzzy level every 15 seconds, and let it go. Very simple.
If we wish to
contemplate the meaning of our sutras outside samyama practice, this is
fine. It is good for us to understand the meaning and intent of our sutras.
It is we who determine that. It does not come from somewhere else. It will
become part of our inner programming, as is the case with all language. This
is why we do the sutras in our own language, so the meaning of the words
will be alive in seed form deep within us. It is not necessary to overdo it
and think about the meaning of our sutras all day. We just easily come to
know what they are and what they mean. That's all. When we sit to do
samyama, we forget all that and just use the sutras as suggested, and the
best results will be there.
There is a story in the
Bible about how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of
heaven, as difficult as a camel going through the eye of a needle. It is
like that with samyama too. If we are "rich" with thinking and meanings,
contemplation, etc. during our samyama, then letting go into inner silence
will be like trying to put a camel through the eye of a needle nearly
impossible. But if we pick up the sutra in that very faint and fuzzy way in
the mind and let it go, then it will go into inner silence easily. The camel
will become very small and indistinct, almost nothing at all, and go right
through the eye of the needle. Then the results will be very good. That is
how samyama works.
Q3: I am having trouble
keeping with the 15-second interval. Any suggestions? And why 15 seconds?
A3: In samyama, timing
is simply a matter of developing a habit. It takes several sittings to do
that. The nervous system actually has a very accurate clock built into it,
and we can access it simply by engaging it repeatedly in our practice. In
deep meditation this is true, and it is true in samyama also. However, there
is a difference.
In deep meditation, most of us will follow the
easy procedure for 20 minutes. Peeking at the clock near the end of the
session is a suitable way of confirming where we are in time.
In samyama, we don't
want to be peeking at the clock to verify every 15-second interval. That
would be too much distraction from the natural process we are engaged in.
Instead, what we do is go through all of our sutras for the two repetitions
each and check our time near the end, or when we are done. Then we will know
if we have been going too fast or too slow, and we can make an adjustment
the next time we sit to practice.
We know that nine sutras
done twice each with a 15-second interval will be about five minutes of
samyama practice. If our session is coming in around five minutes, we will
be on track. If it is significantly shorter or longer, we can make an
adjustment. Over a few days or weeks the approximate 15-second interval can
be achieved in that way.
For extended use of our
last sutra for five minutes (Akasha -
lightness of Air, for
most of us), we can go back to the same method of timing we use for deep
meditation, rather than counting repetitions. So we just go on with the
sutra with the approximate 15-second intervals until five minutes have
passed. Having established the 15-second interval with our other sutras, we
can be reasonably confident that we will remain on track with our last sutra
for the five minutes at the end of the session.
From our own experience,
we will find that 15 seconds is about the right amount of time for a sutra
to be released in inner silence, and enlivened from within to produce its
given effect via the process of moving stillness. Then another repetition of
the same or next sutra will be necessary to continue the process of
cultivating moving stillness. The human mind and nervous system are
pre-wired for this approximate duration of processing in samyama, much as
they are pre-wired for about 20 minutes of deep meditation per session for
If we go significantly
shorter than 15 seconds between sutra repetitions, there will not be enough
time for stillness to fully absorb and move from within the sutra. This is a
common occurrence in samyama practice going through the sutras without
adequate time of letting go in-between repetitions. This happens when the
mind is fully engaged, which we are all prone to have happening in our busy
lives. But this is samyama, where letting go is essential. The thing to do
is develop the habit of letting go and allowing inner silence do its work,
not minding thoughts or other experiences that may come up. In time, we
learn to trust the process. It works!
Think of it this way
each repetition is a fraction of a second of faintly picking up the sutra,
and 15 seconds of letting go. So, what is samyama primarily about? Is it
primarily about the sutras? No, it is about letting go!
The reason we do not
deliberately go much beyond 15 seconds between repetitions is because our
awareness is naturally coming back out into thoughts by then, and is looking
for something to latch on to. Either that, or the mind will be wandering
aimlessly after about 15 seconds. It is the nature of the mind. So we give
it another sutra repetition at that point, and let go. Because samyama is an
enjoyable process, the mind will be happy to go with the sutra into
Sometimes we will lose track of the time and go
way over 15 seconds. It can happen. That is covered next.
Q4: Is getting lost during samyama practice okay?
And once I realize it has happened, what do I do?
A4: Losing track of our
sutras is common, even for advanced practitioners, due to ongoing
purification and opening occurring in the nervous system. It can happen to
anyone at any time, and there is nothing to worry about. When we realize we
have wandered off from our sutra practice, we just easily come back to it,
wherever we left off.
If we find ourselves in
a blizzard of thoughts, we do not hang on to them or try to force them out.
We just easily come back to our samyama practice whenever we realize we have
wandered off into a stream of thoughts, or any other experience.
Of course, wandering off
and coming back to our sutras after some time has passed can mean our
overall time will be longer. That is fine if we have the time. If we run out
of time, then we can end our session as necessary wherever we happen to be
in the sutra sequence and lay down to rest. There will always be other
sessions, so we do not have to fret about an interrupted sequence of sutras.
It has been for a good cause our purification and opening, and for the
ongoing process of our enlightenment. Everyone goes through changing
experiences in samyama. Over the long term, samyama practice tends to become
more steady and stable, as inner purification and opening advance in our
If we get lost during
the five-minute session with our last sutra, we can just lie down and rest
if our time is up, when we realize we have been off somewhere.
It is common for such
variations to occur, and we don't have to be concerned. It is our long term
practice that will make the difference, so any variations that occur we just
take in stride and keep on with our twice-daily practice.
Q5: I have heard that concentration is one of the
key elements in samyama, but you do not mention it. Why?
A5: In the style of
samyama we are doing here, we pick up the object, the sutra, with attention
and let it go. That picking up is called dharana,
the sixth limb of yoga. The letting go is dhyana,
which is the dissolving of the sutra, the meditation component, the seventh
limb of yoga. Absorbing of the released sutra into our inner silence is the samadhi element,
the eighth limb.
It is important to
recognize that when we are picking up the sutra in a very faint and fuzzy
way, then all three limbs of yoga will be coexisting
at the same time. This becomes very natural
and easy as our inner silence becomes steady and stable from our
well-established deep meditation practice and increasing experience in
samyama. So, samyama is all three aspects together, and this is the
essential cause that yields the remarkable effects of samyama.
While it might seem
ironic, the clunky
may experience for a few days or weeks when getting started in samyama
practice is caused by too much fixation of the mind on the surface level of
the sutra. In other words, too much concentration.
Success in samyama comes from touching the sutra faintly with awareness and
letting it go. It is that simple.
The word dharana,
is often translated to mean concentration,
and this is a reflection of how some traditions practice both meditation and
samyama, at least at certain stages, riveting the mind on an object (like a
mantra or sutra) until it wears out and falls into stillness. Hence the word concentration.
But this is not how deep meditation and samyama are practiced in the AYP
approach, so we do not use the word concentration in
relation to practice to avoid confusion with techniques taught elsewhere.
But we do talk aboutconcentration in
Concentration means intense
or complete attention.
As we advance in our practices and experiences, inner silence continues to
rise and stabilize in us, with many benefits. One of those benefits is the
ability to increasingly focus attention like a laser beam on any task or
object for an extended period of time. In other words, over time, yoga
vastly increases our power of concentration. This ability to concentrate is
an effect of
yoga practices, which, in turn, becomes a cause in
all that we undertake in life. An increased ability to concentrate is a
practical benefit coming from yoga one of many.
Like so many things in
spiritual life, the rise of concentration from undifferentiated inner
silence is a seeming paradox. Yet it happens. The more awareness (inner
silence) we have available within ourselves, the more we are able to focus
our attention intensely on external tasks for long periods of time.
When we engage in the
efficient process of samyama on a daily basis, the flow of inner silence
outward takes on a much more active role in our life. In time, it becomes a
vast outpouring of attention, positive energy, intelligence and love that
can lead to remarkable achievements. It is the stuff of miracles!
Q6: I have been doing Buddhist meditation for
years. Can I use this style of samyama with it?
A6: The fuel of samyama
is inner silence. Any meditation technique that cultivates inner silence
(also called the witness) will be a support for samyama practice. So,
Buddhist meditation will work to the extent that it cultivates inner
silence. Typically, the best time for structured samyama practice is right
after meditation, which is the time when the most inner silence is likely to
be present. We always rest for 5-10 minutes after samyama practice (lying
down is good) to facilitate the winding down of inner energy flow and
purification in the nervous system that may be occurring deep inside. If we
get up too quickly, there can be some irritability in daily activity.
Samyama also works
outside sitting practices, and we will find this occurring increasingly in
our everyday activity as we continue with daily sitting practices. Suffice
to say that our genius resides in stillness within us, and to the extent we
are able to entertain our desires in stillness, the likelihood of their
fulfillment will be greatly enhanced. Einstein, Newton, Mozart and many
others stand as testaments to this fact. Where there is inner silence and
the principle of samyama operating, there is genius. It is in all of us.
Q7: Is doing samyama for gaining personal power
wrong? Is it dangerous?
A7: Of all the ways we
can seek to increase our power in the world, samyama is the least dangerous.
This is because true samyama is not projection.
It is not acquiring anything, or manipulating anything in the world. Samyama
is surrender to
the divine within us. There is no harm that can come from this, even if we
are doing it for selfish reasons.
What is not done for
selfish reasons anyway? Everything we do is for our own self, even if we are
making great sacrifices for others. It is merely a matter of what we regard
our self to be. When we become filled with the joy of pure bliss
consciousness, we begin to find our own self in everything and everyone
around us, and act accordingly. This is the direct result of daily practice
of deep meditation and samyama.
So, if we have some
egotistical desire for enlightenment, or for some powers to exercise in the
world, this is fine. Learn deep meditation. Learn samyama, and go for it.
What will happen as we continue with practices and act in the world is, we
will expand from the inside. As we do, our view will expand, as will our
sense of self and the quality of our actions. Then we will be projecting our
personal desires less on others, and surrendering them more into stillness.
What comes out from that will be divine flow, no matter what sort of impure
thoughts we have been letting go inside. It is a natural process of
purification. It is very simple. Samyama is divine
takes all desires and elevates them to divine status, which then manifest as
all love and support for everyone around us. This kind of surrender is not
weakness. It is the greatest strength that can be found in life, nourished
by the infinite residing within us.
So the fear about
samyama being abused and used for wrong purposes is a myth. It is not
possible with right practice. We can say that samyama is morally
self-regulating, meaning that the deeper we
go into it, the more moral strength we will have coming out from within us.
If it is not right practice, not letting go into stillness, it is not
samyama, and the power coming out will be much less.
Samyama is not
projection of personal power. If there is projection involved in a practice,
it is something else. It can be misguided ego, the dark arts, whatever we
want to call it. It isn't samyama. If there is a danger, it is in the
personal projection of power. Many of the worlds ills have come from this.
Samyama is the great undoer of egocentric adventures that have caused so
much misery in the world. Correct practice of samyama is infallible in its
results. And incorrect practice of samyama will not work. It is very safe.
So, let's begin samyama,
and all that our heart craves deep within will be given to us, and much
Q8: I am experiencing
fast breathing and physical movements sometimes during samyama. What is it?
A8: When we
systematically let go of our sutras in samyama practice, inner silence will
begin to move inside us in particular ways that reflect the flavor of the
sutras we are using, giving rise to a variety of sensations, thoughts and
feelings. These will be the result of purification occurring
in our nervous system. The movement of inner silence outward can also be
experienced as energy moving
through us, which can give rise to physical symptoms, such as alterations in
breathing and physical movements.
Sometimes we call
physical symptoms automatic
yoga, since they may resemble yogic
maneuvers and breathing practices. By automatic yoga, we do not mean
practices we must follow when they happen. The way we handle such symptoms
is to neither favor them, nor try and push them out. We just easily favor
the practice we are doing over such experiences. In this case, the easy
procedure of our samyama practice.
It is possible for the
symptoms to become dramatic, such as the body beginning to shake and hop on
our meditation seat during the lightness sutra. If this happens, we should
take necessary precautions to protect ourselves and the furniture, by
avoiding such activity on a fragile bed and having suitable padding
underneath ourselves on a solid surface during our samyama. While our
practice might seem chaotic sometimes, there is a method to it, and a lot of
intelligence manifesting from within along with the energy. Still, it is up
to us to take whatever precautions we feel are necessary to assure our
safety. This is true for all yoga practices, and is an aspect of self-pacing.
Physical movements are
caused by the friction of inner energies moving through our not yet fully
purified nervous system. The further along the path we go, the more
purification and opening we will have, and the less likely extreme physical
movements will be. Then the experiences will be more along the lines of
abiding inner silence, ecstatic bliss and outpouring divine love.
Along the path of
purification and opening, we can have all sorts of things going on. It goes
with the territory, and we deal with things as they come up in ways that
assure our ongoing progress with comfort and safety.
Q9: I am filled with bright light and pleasurable
energy during samyama, and for some time after. Is this the right result?
A9: This is another way
our purification and opening can be experienced. It means we are
experiencing inner energy flow with less friction involved, which can give
rise to experiences of inner light and ecstasy. Such experiences can come
and go along the path of inner purification and opening.
Having this kind of
experience does not mean we have arrived. More than likely we will continue
to have many ups and downs along the way. It is a preview of what our life
will be like permanently in the long term. The main thing is to continue
with daily practices, and favor that over any lovely experiences that might
distract us from doing the very practices that have created the experiences.
There are good things
happening. It is our practice that is causing these experiences, so always
favor the practice.
Q10: Why do I feel edgy
and irritable after my samyama practice sometimes?
A10: Irritability can
result if we are overdoing in our practices, or coming out too fast, not
taking adequate rest at the end of our sittings. One of the most common
causes of irritability in activity is getting up too soon after practices.
So be sure to address that first. It is very important to take at least 5-10
minutes of rest after our samyama practice. If we have a place to lie down
during this time, it is good.
If irritability persists
after practices, even when we are taking good rest before getting up, it can
be overdoing in our practices. In the case of samyama, if two repetitions of
our sutras is leaving us with irritability, then we can drop back to one
repetition for a few sessions and see if that will help. If one repetition
of our sutras is still too much, we can temporarily reduce the time between
our sutra repetitions from 15 seconds to 5-10 seconds. Shortening the time
between sutra repetitions will reduce the energy that is being released in
stillness, as discussed in Question 3 above. If we have forged ahead and are
doing more than two repetitions of our sutras, and are having difficulties
in our daily activity, then we should scale back on the number of
repetitions until things stabilize.
Irritability can also be
caused by overdoing in any of our practices, so it is good to take a broad
view of all the practices we are doing, and consider making adjustments in
the practices that are most likely causing the excess energy flow and
our practices is an important skill to develop as we continue along our
path. Throughout the lessons, we keep returning to the many nuances of
self-pacing again and again.
Q11:What is the ultimate purpose of doing
A11: As mentioned, whatever our purpose may be,
be it for self or others, it will be a good enough reason to be practicing
samyama, assuming we have been cultivating a foundation of inner silence
beforehand. From there, the process of samyama itself will take us steadily
toward our own higher purpose. If we are looking for powers, samyama will
deliver them, but not necessarily in the way we may be expecting. When we
engage in samyama, we may not always get exactly what we want, but we will
always get what we need to advance on our spiritual path.
Ultimately, samyama, in
conjunction with our other yoga practices, will lead us to enlightenment,
which is abiding inner silence, ecstatic bliss and outpouring divine love.
The guru is in you.
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