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 Some questions on meditation
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Alvin Chan

Hong Kong
407 Posts

Posted - Nov 05 2005 :  11:30:21 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Message
Hi all,

I am a newcomer from Hong Kong. Just started meditating(irregularly) for around 2 months and I would like to make it a habit and switch to the system here.

Just got a helpful reply from Yogani. (My e-mail to him is copied below) Still there are more questions before I could make my determination to go on. Maybe my questions are helpful for others as well, so I'd better pose them here. I cannot find the exact answers at least in the first 30 or so lessons in the "main lessons". If these questions have already been answered in the lessons, please let me know.

1.
I am a Chinese speaker, so I cannot really get what the mantra "I AM" should be pronunced. Is it the same as "I am" in English, just like in the sentence "I am a boy"?

2.
When we "think about" the mantra in meditation, are we supposed to pronunce it inside our mind? Or do I just have to "think about" or "remember/aware of" it without thinking about its sound?

3.
If I do have to think about its pronunciation, what is supposed to be the speed? Does it has to coordinate with the breath? At least before I make it automatic....I think "I AM" has two syllable, may I know the exact position of each syllable? (For me, because I use "so-ham" before, I have a tendency to make the mantra follow my breath.....)

4.
Where can I read more about the mantra "I AM"? What is the original language of this phrase? (not English, right?) How long was its history? etc...... I have read something about this in the first few lessons, but don't understand completely... Sorry, just like most scientifically-oriented guy, I am a skeptic. But I must say so far the essential ingredients of yoga make much sense. And this website is the most systematic, rational, trustworthy resources I have found about advanced practises of yoga. My concern is just this mantra. I always prefer following a tradition (or techniques) with a clear history and record, preferably accepted by a large group of people and tried out for a long time.

I hope this question would not offend anyone. But I still think it's good to openly share experiences, in order distill useful techniques and tradition from fake ones. I have tried out some "non-standard" yoga (though by no means unpopular), like "Kundalini yoga by Yoga Bhajan" and "Sahara Yoga". Indeed they contain something, some useful techniques, like meditations. But I found much of them superstitious. What I am looking for are techniques, in a simple way like what Yogani is doing, not religious doctrines, complicated theory but ineffective techniques, fake promises, etc. Their "effects" comes very often from blind and irrational faith about their religions, not their techniques. The "kundalini experience" (cold/hot hands when placed on the head) are not quite consistent with the classical description, and after attending some of their classes, I actually find out how they make use of (may be not on purpose though) some simple physiological and psychological phenomenon to mislead people into believing they have awakened their kundalini. I am not so sure about Bhajan's Yoga --the "physical" part. I still want to access the effectiveness , but I have just one short life, and many of his practices (blended with superstitious comments) simply doesn't make sense, so I stopped after several months of disappointment (compared with their initial promises, of "immediate results")

In contrast, the more commonly known yoga as taught by the well-known masters or yogani, have a clearer tradition and history to follow, with clear old text from which their teachings were drawn. And incidentally, those branches(??) of yoga contains much less nonsense, usually no religious doctrines. (Although most of their teachings are still not scientifically proved) In Yogani's lessons, these good features seems further distilled into an open-minded, user-friendly system. It is only in this direction can yoga be tested and helpful for most people, especially in developed-countries like USA, and my home Hong Kong.

5.
As you could read from my background below, my problem with a consistent practise is not "finding the time", but "finding a quiet place available at a regular time" while still having enough sleep! I have come up with a solution which I don't know whether it make sense or not: waking up at around 6-6:30am and practise, and then go to bed again after that (when my family get up...) to have another 2 hours of sleep.(usually I have to go to bed after 11pm, sometimes later) I know it sounds weird but that's the only way I can have a really regular practice once a day. For the other 20 mins, I still have to find another way,and may be by adding some irregular practise to my once-a-day main practice. What do you think?

A lot more to ask and share, but let's leave it later. This honest and practical website is really a blessing. It is one of the few places I see spirituality NOT being mixed up with superstition and ignorance.

Alvin


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dear Yogani,

Hi. I am a reader from Hong Kong. First of all, I am delighted to find your website, which I find inspiring and trustworthy. But these inspirations would change my life only if I go into the path. Here are my difficulties and doubt which stop me from going further. If you are busy, please ignore my 2nd and 3rd paragraph, which are about my background.

I am 23 years old, studying Mathematics for an M.Phil degree in Hong Kong. Over the past few years, I found my life having less peace than I once was. As a student, I have my responsibility to study, which I did well when I am in my peak performance state. But I have not been in that state in 95% of the time. But be it the reason or the cause, my depression goes along with my disability to focus, either on arranging my life, my study or my relations.

I don't really understand my mind. When I entered the university, I viewed mathematics and physics as a way to look for the truth. I have great ideas occasionally for these subjects, and striked my friends. I think that's the reason why I hoped to be a scientist/mathematician. But life doesn't go that perfect as I wish. As I push myself to study, my mind does not response well. Those great insights no longer appear. And I become quite humiliated and depressed. Even worse: I gave less time to other part of my life, including my girl friend, which I found a great loss later on.

One year ago, I start practising asanas in a local yoga center. I am not sure whether it is an escape or a relieve. Anyway, I got healthier physically . But my mind is still confused most of the time. I don't know what I will do, I don't know what in life is important for me. I no longer have the great desire to be a mathematician (which I found quite meaningless after some thoughts), but I would still like to, have a clear mind, and to be in a peak state most of the time, to get most out of my life.

For me, at least at this moment, I have to better arrange my life before I go on to spiritual path. I badly need something which could help me to clear my mind. That's why I decided to go to meditate. I pick it up for a few months, but I am quite irregular. Here in Hong Kong houses are much smaller than in USA. In my case, 7 people fit into a 600sq feet apartment on the 10-th floor. Of course I have to share a room with my brother. If I want to meditate everyday at the same time undisturbed, I have to finish it off before 7:00am. But that would mean I have to wake up at aroung 5 or 6am while usually I can go to bad ONLY AFTER 11:00pm, again due to the crowded environment. I am not a lazy uy who would like to sleep for 10 hours, but from my experience, sleeping for less than 7 hours a day would make me dull which is opposite to what I want to achieve. I have read that meditation can reduce the need for sleep. How far can this be true?

I have only meditated for around 2 months, with around 2 hours per week. But sometimes I skip it for a whole week, especially when I have other duties. The time of my practice is also irregular, but usually around 10-11am, on the day which I don't have other duties and my family members are out.

Actually, I have much time, since what I mainly have to do is to read articles and think about it, and I am now quite reluctant to do that when I don't have a clear mind. The problem is-- I can't find a regular time and place in this little crowded city.

Do you think I should try waking up at 5 or 6 am to practise? I enjoy meditating very much. It gives me peace, though not yet a clear enough mind and life. I would like to add pranayama (which I read regularly but didn't do much), and other advanced practises slowly, and also some asanas to relax my body before all that. I think that would take up 1.5 hours. From your experience, can this replace 2 to 3 hours of sleep in the long run? Also, I have been following the mantra "so ham" for sometime.(following Swami Rama's book) Should I change my mantra if I want to follow your system now? Will I miss anything if continue to use "so ham"? Also, if I skip some days and put all the pranayama/meditation
practises in one or two days, how much effect could I expect?

I am also practising "yoga nidra" by Satyananda very often, right before I sleep and on my bed (which is not recommended but I have to, again due to lack of quiet space in my house). The effects have been quite dramatic, much more obvious and immediate than meditation. It certainly decreases my need for sleep. I hope I can sleep even less by continuing the practise.

I get excited about the advanced practises you discribed and look forward to study them in detail and regularly-- once I can find a place and time!

Thank you very much!

Regards,
Alvin Chan

Jim and His Karma

2105 Posts

Posted - Nov 05 2005 :  12:26:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
-------
I am a newcomer from Hong Kong.
-------

welcome!


-------
I am a Chinese speaker, so I cannot really get what the mantra "I AM" should be pronunced. Is it the same as "I am" in English, just like in the sentence "I am a boy"?
-------

yes. and don't pay the slightest attention to any "meaning". It's all about the sound.


-------
When we "think about" the mantra in meditation, are we supposed to pronunce it inside our mind? Or do I just have to "think about" or "remember/aware of" it without thinking about its sound?
-------

don't think....just intone. Again, it's about the sound. But maybe that's what you meant by "think about". Once you start mantra, let it go and do what it wants. Don't try to control it in ANY way. The only thing to do is this: if you get distracted (thinking about what to make for dinner, etc), start the mantra again. And don't be annoyed with yourself that you got "off" the mantra. This is the heart of the practice, to gently, patiently put yourself back "on" mantra every time you get distracted from it. When you're "on" mantra, let the mantra lead you. Don't try to lead it. Let go. Let go a lot.

-------
If I do have to think about its pronunciation, what is supposed to be the speed? Does it has to coordinate with the breath? At least before I make it automatic....I think "I AM" has two syllable, may I know the exact position of each syllable? (For me, because I use "so-ham" before, I have a tendency to make the mantra follow my breath.....)
-------

no control. let go. let the mantra work on you, like someone giving you a massage. Don't tie it to breath, don't worry about it becoming "automatic". Just start it and let go. If you get distracted, start it again and let go again.


-------
Where can I read more about the mantra "I AM"? What is the original language of this phrase? (not English, right?) How long was its history? etc...... I have read something about this in the first few lessons, but don't understand completely... Sorry, just like most scientifically-oriented guy, I am a skeptic. But I must say so far the essential ingredients of yoga make much sense. And this website is the most systematic, rational, trustworthy resources I have found about advanced practises of yoga. My concern is just this mantra. I always prefer following a tradition (or techniques) with a clear history and record, preferably accepted by a large group of people and tried out for a long time.
-------

I think this sort of intellectualizing will, at best, be unhelpful, and will, at worst, impede your ability to just let go. Skip it. Do it. Yogani didn't invent it, it's been used for eons. Let it work on you beyond mind. Let go and let it work on you from inside.

"Understanding" the process of mantra is just more mind stuff. You are not your mind. The mind tries to hijack every experience. Don't sweat it, just let the mantra work on you and see how it goes. A number of us will tell you it goes very well indeed. Enjoy!


--------

As you could read from my background below, my problem with a consistent practise is not "finding the time", but "finding a quiet place available at a regular time" while still having enough sleep! I have come up with a solution which I don't know whether it make sense or not: waking up at around 6-6:30am and practise, and then go to bed again after that (when my family get up...) to have another 2 hours of sleep.(usually I have to go to bed after 11pm, sometimes later) I know it sounds weird but that's the only way I can have a really regular practice once a day. For the other 20 mins, I still have to find another way,and may be by adding some irregular practise to my once-a-day main practice. What do you think?
--------

I'd recommend NOT going to sleep after practice. The point of AYP is to bring what you've attained in practice into the world, and that's done by resting a few minutes after practice (not sleeping!) and then plunging right in to social, physical interaction (moving, talking, exercising....ACTING).

I'd also suggest not doing irregular practices. As with eating and sleeping, if you get into a groove, you'll find it much, much easier to keep up the practice because your body will "call" you to practice at the given time. And it's important that this be done every day, like tooth brushing. If you don't settle into that groove, practices get abandoned when extra busy, in crisis, etc. And that creates compound problems, because it's at times like that thta you most need practices to avoid getting more deeply enslaved by fear, desire, etc.

Two thoughts to address the problem, though:
1. you'll find you need less sleep if you practice. and you'll generally be in somewhat better control of desire for things like sleep and food and sex.

2. you don't need things quiet. You just need to not be interrupted. See my postings in this thread:
http://www.aypsite.org/forum/topic....TOPIC_ID=546

If you try to arrange your environment to be conducive for spiritual practice, you'll spend your life scrambling to get everything just right. That's exactly what bankers and playboys do. We're aiming to opt out of that.


-------
But I found much of them superstitious. What I am looking for are techniques, in a simple way
--------

Boy, have you come to the right place!

But while I respect what seem to be (I may be wrong) anti-religious feelings, you'll find that if you don't have some degree of ardor and awe for something bigger, something divine (whether you call it God or The Flow or Cosmic Consciousness or whatever), you'll not get far. You DO have some of this ardor and awe, however, or you wouldn't be here in the first place. Don't think about it too much. The thinking's the problem. Plunge into your practice with feeling, let go, and don't try to analyze. Analysis happens AFTER the experience. Try to exist at the immediate moment of raw experience for a while, ahead of the mind's somewhat delayed post-processing. Your (obvious) intelligence won't wither and atrophy. It will be right there when you need it, if you need it, like a gadget in your pocket.

Edited by - Jim and His Karma on Nov 05 2005 12:34:56 PM
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nearoanoke

USA
525 Posts

Posted - Nov 05 2005 :  1:25:26 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Alvin,

Welcome to the group. If you want a scientific method to yoga sans the religious rigmarole, you are definitely standing in the right place.

I would suggest you follow the I AM mantra instead of doing AYP with other mantras. It is not a good idea to mix practices from different systems, and we have to choose one and BE DEVOTED to it. That devotion is very important. AYP was my first path and I feel lucky to have gotten it. After I come to AYP I looked around casually at other paths but that only confirmed to me what an effective method AYP is. Be assured that you are on the right path.

With any spiritual practice, it will take approximately around 2-3 years to see significant results. So please dont keep expecting results everyday because that will only disappoint you. Your need for sleep will definitely reduce, but that will take time. Start without any expectations and make it a daily practice - just like brushing tooth, takin bath etc...

Everything will come with such a daily practice.

Coming to your background, one of the major reasons that people turn to spirituality is because of the troubles/failures in material world. Your trouble with studies has been a blessing to you in the form of spiritual life. But at the same time remember that spiritual life is no escape from the real world. You should keep your struggle in material life intact to make progress there.

Answers to your questions in the next post....






The reason many people fail in spirituality is that they try but make no attempt - Anonymous
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nearoanoke

USA
525 Posts

Posted - Nov 05 2005 :  1:47:10 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by Alvin Chan

1.
I am a Chinese speaker, so I cannot really get what the mantra "I AM" should be pronunced. Is it the same as "I am" in English, just like in the sentence "I am a boy"?



I AM is similar to the english i am. The pronunciation is also similar to the word AYAM.

quote:
Originally posted by Alvin Chan

2.
When we "think about" the mantra in meditation, are we supposed to pronunce it inside our mind? Or do I just have to "think about" or "remember/aware of" it without thinking about its sound?



We repeat it inside our mind. We avoid making any external or internal sounds, but the effort needs to be there from our side to repeat it mentally. "Remember/aware of" are kind of vague. We need more solid/intentional repetition of the mantra. Ofcourse dont worry that you have to stay on mantra. Thoughts will come. Our goal in meditation is to be repeating mantra as long as (and whenever) we are aware of it.

quote:
Originally posted by Alvin Chan

5.
As you could read from my background below, my problem with a consistent practise is not "finding the time", but "finding a quiet place available at a regular time" while still having enough sleep! I have come up with a solution which I don't know whether it make sense or not: waking up at around 6-6:30am and practise, and then go to bed again after that (when my family get up...) to have another 2 hours of sleep.(usually I have to go to bed after 11pm, sometimes later) I know it sounds weird but that's the only way I can have a really regular practice once a day. For the other 20 mins, I still have to find another way,and may be by adding some irregular practise to my once-a-day main practice. What do you think?




It is NOT recommended to do meditation at night times just before you sleep for the day. But during morning time, if you want to take a nap for 2 hours after your meditation, I hope that would be ok. I am not sure though. It seems from your position there's no other choice than trying to meditate like that, so you can go ahead with it. Other option is if your disturbances after 7 am are just sounds that ppl make, you could try to use ear plugs and meditate after 7.



The reason many people fail in spirituality is that they try but make no attempt - Anonymous
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Richard

United Kingdom
857 Posts

Posted - Nov 05 2005 :  4:28:02 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hello Alvin

Welcome to the forum.

I wont say much it has all been said, just one thing don't make the mistake of trying too hard.

The main problem with this sort of meditation is how easy it is. The mind has difficulty accepting that something that brings results can be so easy so it tries to make it more complicated, its not.

Keep it simple.

Blessings



RICHARD
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Alvin Chan

Hong Kong
407 Posts

Posted - Nov 07 2005 :  01:08:33 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for all the sharing. So, I am now sure about the pronunciation of "I AM": it's like "I am" with 2 syllable, not linked together like "I'm", right? Is the intonation important? Or just giving them any natural intonation is fine?

Actually, I understand that I shouldn't analyze that much in my spirtual practices. But there's a danger of following a path with a blind faith, as in certain religions with extreme behaviour. I found that I have a tendency to be extreme deep in my heart, although I am quite rational in my thinking. Of course there is virtually no religious messages here in AYP, that's what I admire much-- being user friendly without sacrificing spiriluality. When I go on for the spiritual praactices, I will certain put all intellectual questions aside. But right before that, I just want to make sure everything is fine.

I think I can arrange to meditate once a day regularly by getting up a bit earlier, before my family. And then I will add some irregular practices whenever possible.
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Jim and His Karma

2105 Posts

Posted - Nov 07 2005 :  10:42:48 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Start off with just plain "I am" (as in "I am overly analytical"). Then let it speed up, slow down, mush together, get louder, softer....anything it wants. It may be a very audible sound, or it may just be the feeling of a sound. Mantra knows best. Let it go. If it disappears (because, for example, you're thinking about ways to save money on car insurance), bring it back - in the same quality it was in when you last noticed it before it disappeared.

If you are afraid that by letting mantra go, and go deep and unfettered - or letting YOURSELF go - that you are putting yourself at risk, we can all reassure you otherwise, but it's a matter you must resolve for yourself. If you have any severe mental illness (particularly schizophrenia, which is more common than most people realize), there is indeed risk from practice. Aside from that, the problems are all in mind, which is not what we're working on. We're working on spirit, and the spirit is good and empathetic and about love. There is no evil outside of mind.

There should be no impact on behavior, except a bit more empathy, and optimism. The great yogis also talk of cheerfulness. If behavior starts changing radically, the self-pacing AYP constantly refers to needs to be considered. AYP is about moving smoothly in the world. In fact, that's the gauge. If you're getting smoother in the world (not more "extreme"), the practices are going well. If not, you need to pull back on your practices. AYP is like a train, and you, as the conductor, control your journey by slowing down or speeding up. Again, the gauge is behavior in the world. Watch closely, and control your journey accordingly.

As for that elusive second practice session, is there a time of day when you must wait? E.g. during a drive, or waiting on line, or somesuch? That's perfect. Anytime I'm in an airport, I look around and see a surprisingly large number of people quietly meditating (I look at their hands). Use your downtime.
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spsalsm

USA
26 Posts

Posted - Feb 03 2012 :  1:44:27 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Jim and His Karma,

Thanks a lot for this post. I have found it to be just as illuminating and helpful as Yogani's lesson 366.

I often find myself wondering if I'm trying to control the mantra or if it's doing its own thing. The more I practice, though, I realize that it's pretty much doing its own thing most of the time now. Even wondering if I'm doing it right is getting off the mantra and letting mind hijack the experience, right?
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Christi

United Kingdom
3671 Posts

Posted - Feb 04 2012 :  09:58:04 AM  Show Profile  Visit Christi's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Spsalsm,

Yes, wondering if you are doing meditation right during meditation, is another thought. You simply favour the mantra over the thought.
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