Day and night are interconnected in Integral Yoga. The greater equanimity you maintain during the day, the more conscious you become in your dreams at night and conversely, the better you sleep, the more self-aware you are able to become during the day. While this is true in principle, it is quite difficult to put into practice during waking hours. Engrossed in quotidian social activities, we may find it demanding to monitor every thought, emotion or velleity which bubbles up and gets suppressed from moment to moment. We barely notice the passing flicker of pride, the soupçon of jealousy, the concealed embarrassment or the shrinking revulsion that our consciousness instinctively invests in every event or person. Unnoticed, this burden of cathectic bonds builds up day after day in our subconscious eventually turning us into sullen, predictable and listless creatures.
The sudden inflow of energy, the rapture and the sense of release that one feels after a favourable period of meditation is not easy to sustain. The mind mostly misinterprets the experience, the heart seizes and appropriates it, while the physical body feels relieved and exhausted that it has ended. We tend to yawn and eat junk food after a period of meditation because the physical body is tamasic(dull) by nature and not accustomed to the newly attained tranquility. Instead of yawning and dissipating the energy gained during the meditation, the body needs to be molded to become more supple and receptive; the cells of the body have to be made more and more conscious through regular exercise and refined eating habits so that it can sustain longer and greater spiritual experiences. Sri Aurobindo denoted this power of the body as Dharana Shakti or Dharana Samarthya (retention capacity; Samarthya or Shakti = capacity, Dharana = retention).
Napoleon once remarked that a great general must have equilibrium: “The object most desirable is that a man’s judgment should be in equilibrium with his physical character or courage. This is what we may call being well squared both by base and perpendicular. If courage be in the ascendency, a general will rashly undertake that which he can not execute; on the contrary, if his character or courage be inferior to his judgment, he will not venture to carry any measure into effect”.
Many novices to Yoga discover that once you have pacified the restless body and harmonized the breathing process before meditation, you might experience a few minutes of mental silence, but this illusory peace is quickly shattered by the sudden uprush of disturbing images and negative thoughts. These unpleasant ideas come partly from within and partly from outside. Within us, there are repressed parts of the personality which rebel against any imposition of harmony while on the external front, we are constantly bathing in the vibrations of the world and a desultory attempt to cut our mind off from these pervasive vibrations is bound to fail. In an age of rapid technological change where we are being continuously bombarded by powerful and seductive audio-visual content on a wide variety of electronic devices, the frequency of this problem has probably increased rather than decreased. These are some remarks by the Mother on this perennial botheration.
Goraknath was a yogi-philosopher belonging the Nath Path (Brotherhood of the Supreme) who lived around the 9th-10th century. His Guru Matysendranath was the progenitor of this influential brotherhood of ascetics. Gorakhnath authored several works on Yoga including the Goraksha Samhita, the Goraksha Gita, the Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati, the Yoga Martanada, the Yoga Siddhanta Paddhati, the Yoga-Bija, and the Yoga Chintamani. You can read more about him on wikipedia. This article briefly outlines the meditation methods that Gorakhnath first enumerated in his work Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati. The material is condensed from A.K. Banerjea’s Philosophy of Gorakhnath.
It is known that the restless mind cannot immediately enter into a state of thoughtlessness. That is why meditation is practised in stages. A 2005 paper “Meditation and the Neuroscience of Consciousness” by Antoine Lutz and his colleagues contains a very succinct description of this graded process accompanied by a concise table, which we highlight in this post. Continue reading
A particularly intransigent problem in the practice of Yoga is that of retention of power; the fleeting contact that one gains with the Higher Power during meditation seems to dissipate within a few minutes after meditation, after which one finds oneself uncomfortably thrust back into the ugly daily persona – an amalgam of anxiety, impatience, ambition and what not. The way out of this dilemma is to embrace a daily regimen of control over conversation, food, television and computer usage and other activities which “externalize” the consciousness. The exercise discussed in this article “walking with eyes unfocused” can also extend the retention of consciousness.