Advanced Yoga Practices
AYP Plus Additions:
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"
Here's what I've found to be going on with my I AM mantra meditation. Intent Keeping the mantra in the foreground at all costs what this is about to me, is not just focusing on the sound... playing with that has let me feel passive about it. Strong intent on keeping it front and center has had a totally different effect. Not my long accepted notion of meditation as a practice of cultivating calm, or any other emotional state. In actuality, sometimes embracing quite negative states. What I've found is that when I use this mantra and mean it, any thoughts that I interrupt, I now own. The thing I've found about a wandering mind, is that I get lost. I focus on things outside of myself to the point that I forget that I'm the one thinking, that it's an active process. I forfeit control. Become victim to my surroundings. When I step into the middle of any thought process with a deliberate and meaningful I AM suddenly those thoughts are just my thoughts again, not some reality that's bigger than me and I am a part of, contrarily just a part of me.
So what's happening now, all this stuff that used to make me suffer, well I'm becoming very decidedly responsible for it. I'm seeing how it's all been me all along. And there's some ugly stuff in there. Ken Wilber talks about psychoanalysis and the shadow, but it's easier than that. Eckhart Tolle talks about pain bodies, but it's easier than that. It's just what I AM. And there's power in owning even the ugly stuff. The ugly stuff causes suffering because I'd rather not own it, so I project it on the outside world by getting lost in my thoughts and forgetting that I'm the one thinking them. Owning them gives me back that part of myself.
So I'm thinking that karma is essentially the workings of the parts of ourselves which we deny. Moments in time that we forget to be present so as to avoid confronting some of our uglier elements. And I'm planning that by taking back ownership and responsibility for those ugly parts that I'll learn to love them in such a way that my karma "burns off" or more honestly, aligns with what it is I am meant to be.
A1: Thanks for sharing your experience. Just a reminder that picking up the mantra is an easy favoring, and not an "at all costs" kind of thing. When we realize we are off into thoughts, including thoughts about what is happening or supposed to be happening in meditation, we just ease back to the inner mental sound of the mantra at whatever level of clarity or fuzziness we happen to be at in the mind. From there, we will lose the mantra again, and once we notice, we can ease back to it again at that level of vibration, and so on. By this procedure we go steadily deeper during our session. So the mantra is a very flexible vehicle for our attention to go from clear mental pronunciation to very faint and fuzzy barely noticed vibration. In this way, the mantra and the specific procedure for using it take us deep into our inner silence, which is pure bliss consciousness beyond all thinking.
Also, we do not meditate on the meaning of the English words, I AM. We use the sound only. It can be as though we are using a different spelling, AYAM, where there is no meaning.
It is fine to analyze after meditation, but analysis during meditation is to be regarded as just another stream of thoughts, and then ease back to the mantra again. It is a very simple procedure. If we stick with it twice daily, within a few weeks or months, we may notice some changes in our daily life more inner stillness, peace, creativity, and energy. This "abiding inner silence" we are cultivating is the foundation of enlightenment, and everything else we discuss in the AYP lessons flows from that.
In the beginning, it is common to think of the mantra as being a kind of battering ram for knocking down the wall between us and our enlightenment, for furthering our mental strategies, whatever they may be. This is what we sometimes call "the clunky stage." Like many things in life we are doing for the first time, meditation can take some getting used to, and then the practice will refine naturally as we settle in. The truth is, we do not knock down the wall. With deep meditation, we become like a very fine vapor and go right through it. So there really isn't anything we have to own our karma, or anything else. As we move forward from deep meditation with the addition of practices like samyama and self-inquiry, our independence from karma, our thinking, and ego, becomes increasingly clear. This is the rise of the witness. Then we can naturally penetrate thoughts, feelings and energy obstructions in a way that neither pushes them away nor requires us to "own" them.
In time, the wall (our inner obstructions) is dissolved from the inside, and pure bliss consciousness blooms forth naturally, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. We are That.
Q2 (2nd practitioner): The mantra disappears during practice for sure, but it is the refining of the mantra that I think I may be lacking. Is the refining a process of clear mental pronunciation to a more subtle sound? Is it like going from a low note to a high note?
A2: Yes, during deep meditation the mantra naturally goes from clear pronunciation to subtle sound in the mind. It is not a matter of pitch (high or low), but degree of clarity. Pitch can be anything, whether the mantra is clear or fuzzy. This is not something we can regulate. We can only allow it. "Letting" versus "controlling." Then this creeps out into our daily living, making life more harmonious and fluid. We may or may not notice effects in our daily life right away, but they are there. Not to fret much over it. Just let it happen. The more we are able to allow that natural refinement during deep meditation, the more we will be able to allow it in daily living. It is the habit of rising inner silence. There is a direct relationship.
In deep meditation practice, disappearing mantra is good. Then when we realize we have gone off the mantra, we ease back to it. We may be experiencing thoughts very clearly in the mind. In that case, the mantra will be a clear pronunciation. Or we may be very floaty and fuzzy. In that case, we ease back to the mantra in that mode of floaty fuzziness. Or we may be in stillness, barely aware we have gone off the mantra. In that case we favor the mantra as stillness itself. That last one may seem to be a paradox -- favoring something in nothing. But that is what it is. This is all we have to do come back to the mantra wherever we are, rather than forcing pronunciation to be somewhere else, either clearer or fuzzier. Letting it go will usually lead to more fuzziness, but not always. Purification occurring in the nervous system can lead anywhere. We just allow whatever happens, and ride it wherever it goes, easing back to the mantra wherever we find ourselves. Nothing more for us to do.
Q3 (3rd practitioner): The mantra is really doing me in at the moment it's like a pot of honey attracting flies and wasps, busy, insistent, complex thoughts/daydreams but this has happened before and I'm expecting it to pass. The question well, I suppose two questions.
Does the mantra act like a psychic magnet, sucking all this junk out of my subconscious?
Second and more relevant question: I've given up all the other practices except samyama while this phase continues. I was doing spinal breathing pranayama, chin pump, yoni mudra kumbhaka and cosmic samyama, and doing fine with them. But do you think spinal breathing should, if at all possible, be done as a necessary adjunct to deep meditation?
A3: It sounds like you are getting some delayed reaction from using a "full boat" of practices earlier. It can seem fine, but underneath a lot is being loosened and then one day the dam breaks. This is why we add practices carefully one at a time, and give them plenty of time to stabilize before adding more (months at least, not days or weeks), so we will know what the effects of each practice will be over a longer period of time, and can navigate accordingly.
It will take a little while to settle down, but it will. Be sure to continue self-pacing and grounding as needed. Also keep in mind that bhakti and any other spiritual activities we are engaged in can aggravate an overload. So self-pacing reaches beyond the AYP practices alone.
As for the mantra being a "psychic magnet," I don't think that analogy holds, since we are repeatedly going beyond the mantra and all thinking during deep meditation. So there is no mantra or external (psychic) function we are cultivating. The mantra is only a vehicle into stillness a very effective one. Rather, it is the resulting rise of inner silence that loosens everything up.
Obviously, we'd like to be releasing our inner obstructions, but the pace we do it at is important, as too much at once can cause delays while we stabilize excessive energy flows. Keeping a balance between our practices and normal daily life is the key. When the two are kept in balance, spiritual progress can be very fast if we are fully active in the world.
If it is still too much release at the present duration of deep meditation, it is okay to back off more on practice time until things settle down.
Spinal Breathing can provide stabilization in some cases. You will not know for sure until you try a bit of it before deep meditation. See Lesson 69 for more discussion on this.
The guru is in you.
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