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Advanced Yoga Practices
Main Lessons
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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 397 - Deep Meditation and Analysis Paralysis  (Audio)

AYP Plus Additions:
397.1 - Hanging on to Experiences During Deep Meditation  (Audio)
397.2 - The Pros and Cons of Discussing Spiritual Experiences
  (Audio)

397.3 - Can Sharing Experiences Hurt Spiritual Progress?

From: Yogani
Date: May 3, 2010

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?"


Q: In my case, meditation is usually an exciting ride with all sorts of lights and inner dimensions revealing themselves. I often find it difficult, not even desirable, to come back and focus on the mantra, which is not nearly as interesting. It may be flat and seem counter-productive. With so much else going on in meditation, it is more than enough for me to assess and understand these unusual and fascinating experiences. At least, that is the rationale that occurs during meditation. A strong tendency toward analysis is a long-time habit of mine. It is what I do all day in my job. What would you advise?

A: I would advise developing the habit of always gently favoring the procedure over the experiences that come up during deep meditation, no matter how glorious or fascinating they may be. Deep meditation is not supposed to be entertainment, or produce particular experiences. Neither is it a time for content analysis. It is a cleansing procedure, which is known to bring substantial practical benefits into our daily life. The process is driven by the procedure of favoring the mantra, not by the experiences that may occur.

Whatever the experiences may be in deep meditation, they will not be unique in terms of what they can bring to our growth. Dramatic experiences are not necessarily unusual, and they are not causative. They are a result of purification and opening occurring in our subtle nervous system, caused by the simple procedure of picking up the mantra whenever we realize we are off it, and letting it refine naturally.

If we have a tendency to analyze experiences during our practice, this may seem natural for us because of a long-time mental habit. But during that 20 minutes of deep meditation twice each day, we are culturing the habit of doing something else - easily favoring the inner sound of the mantra. If we are consciously favoring analysis instead, it can become an obstruction to our progress. Therefore, when interesting experiences and analysis come in deep meditation, we just ease back to the mantra. That's all that is necessary. It is not a focusing or a hanging on to the mantra. It is a gentle favoring when we notice we are off into something else. It does not matter what that something else is.

All of the traditions have evolved "maps" that attempt to tell us where we are with experiences in the overall scheme of things. Such assessments undertaken during practice will be at the expense of our progress. Figuring out where we are in the inner realms has absolutely nothing to do with our practice, and, in fact, can arrest our unfoldment in "analysis paralysis." Much better to practice according to the procedure and go out and live fully. If we are inclined to analyze outside our practice, that is fine. But even then it can be a distraction. Which is of greater value, analyzing life, or actually living it fully in the divine flow that is emerging from within us as a result of effective daily practice?

Spiritual practitioners in the know, regardless of the tradition they come from, will tell you the same thing: Keep practicing with consistency, favoring the procedure of your practice over the scenery along the way. This is not a guarantee of consistent experiences of any kind during practice. It does, however, guarantee your spiritual progress.

Anything can happen in practice, with thoughts, visions, lights, sounds, or nothing at all. The mantra can be big, small, loud, soft, flat, shimmering, clear, faint, fuzzy, irritating, ecstatic, anything. Wherever the mantra happens to be is where we easily pick it up, with no strain or fuss about what we'd like it to be. The mantra and our experiences can go on in a particular mode for days, weeks, or months, until purification and opening lead us into more realms of inner stuff that are purifying and opening. None of the particulars of experience matter in relation to the procedure of deep meditation.

What matters is how we are feeling during the day. Are we more relaxed, energetic, creative, loving, finding more synergies occurring naturally in our life's journey? These are the things that indicate that our practice is working. This is where practices pay off, not in what happens while we are sitting in meditation.

The only reason to discuss experiences that occur in meditation is to coax practitioners back to application of the procedure, and to boost confidence to proceed with consistency. Other than that, there isn't much reason to discuss the scenery. It is yours. You can notice it with enjoyment (or not) whenever it comes along, and then ease back to the mantra. Whatever is there is there until it isn't anymore, and there is no benefit in being concerned about anything being there or not being there, or in analyzing what it might be.

It is suggested to continue developing the habit of the procedure of deep meditation and see what is happening outside practice in ordinary living. As you gradually let go of the need to be analyzing the internals of your meditation, and go out and live fully, the results will be there. That is the payoff. It is not about labeling the content of our meditation, or our life. It is about living it.

Practice wisely, and enjoy!

The guru is in you.

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Note: For detailed instructions on deep meditation, see the AYP Deep Meditation book, and AYP Plus.

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