What is Meditation ?

Discussion in 'Spiritual Forum' started by Ignorant, May 9, 2015.

  1. Ignorant

    Ignorant New Member

    What is Meditation by Mataji devi
    Everyone is capable of meditation.

    Without this faculty, it would not be possible to perform even the most fundamental tasks of life: working, studying, solving practical problems, making choices.
    Meditation is the ability to concentrate on a subject, consider it, channel energy into it, and bring it from the subtle platform (non-manifested) to the visible and perceivable platform (manifested).
    The practical applications of meditation are innumerable.

    Although meditation is an instinctive process, like breathing, moving, walking, talking, eating etc, we can learn its science and art, and use it in the best possible way to transform our lives and attain success in all enterprises.
    In other words, we can either do things without the proper attention and get a bad result, or put our full attention and intelligence in whatever we do and obtain the best result possible, in all spheres of life.

    The benefits of controlling one's mind go from overcoming stress and fatigue to learning how to relax and enjoy life in a healthy and simple way, to improving one's character and developing good qualities, to improving one's physical health and immune system, counteracting bad influences, better managing of time and effort, establishing priorities in life etc.

    Like any muscle, the mind must be trained properly and exercised with intelligence and regularity, so that it can become able to perform its intended work.

    Those who do not exercise their minds in meditation cannot progress in life - either materially or spiritually - and their existence is not better than the animals' existence.

    Training in meditation should start early in life: the parents can help their child by stimulating his/her intelligence and mind power through attention, affection, good example, good instructions and proper environment. School teachers also have a great responsibility towards the mental development of their students, and they should fulfill their duty in the best way.

    However, it is never too late for one who decides to develop his/her personal potential: this book will explain how the ancient knowledge of yoga can be utilized for the full development of human potential, at all levels.

    Meditation simply means "concentrating the mind in a particular direction or on a particular object", either positively or negatively, that is either on its presence or absence.

    In other words, it is the basic knowledge on how to use the mind properly.

    Due to the absence of this basic training, people become confused and stressed, and generally they unconsciously follow whatever their mind is dictating, which in turn is often dictated by the establishment through various methods of mind control.

    Dealing with your own mind is just like with dealing with a child, so the basics of meditation are extremely simple:

    1. you become aware you have a mind that needs some training and control to become more quiet
    2. you focus your attention inwards and become aware of what actually goes through your mind
    3. you make the deliberate choice and effort to drop all the thoughts, emotions, etc, that are not beneficial
    4. you practice focusing ("centering") your mind on something that is beneficial - there are plenty of good exercises to do this
    5. you learn how to drive your mind consciously, to take care of its real needs, to become good friends and engage it beneficially for your life; this creates a relaxed feeling because your mind is not working AGAINST YOU any more.

    This is what most "modern" methods of "meditation" are about.
    You do not need to become a disciple of some cult of "big guru" to achieve this result; you can do it on your own, preferably with a little personal guidance and help from some expert person.
    There is nothing "mystic" about this, and those who try to make it appear as it were mystic are generally cheaters, especially if in return they demand your ALLEGIANCE (official affiliation, emotional dependence, worship etc) TO THEIR ORGANIZATION.

    The ancient tradition of Yoga is the best - most scientific, complete, precise and effective - method for meditation. In fact, many "meditation teachers" exploit the name of Yoga to sell their product, counting on the fact that most people are not sufficiently informed about genuine Yoga.

    The best text about Yoga is Bhagavad gita. It is the most famous text of the ancient hindu/vedic tradition, and it has been translated and commented by innumerable people; however, direct study of the original text is always recommended. As you know, in the last months I have been working precisely on this project.

    According to Bhagavad gita, the first point in the Yoga meditation is realizing that we are not the body or the mind
    The first and foremost cause for stress and confusion is the incorrect identification of the self.

    Who are you? What are you?
    If you believe you are your body, you will be constantly trying to please your body and senses and satisfy their demands, even to the detriment of your personal relationships, social interactions, peace of mind, financial security, and health.

    Therefore since childhood we are trained to "control ourselves", which basically means controlling our body and senses.

    However, in mainstream culture there is a lot of confusion about the actual identification of the Self; people tend to believe they are material bodies who own a spiritual soul, rather than understanding the fact that they are spiritual souls who own a material body.

    Since the body is directly perceivable, and the soul is not, when the Self is identified with the body, the concept of soul remains extremely vague and is often confused with the mind; for example we speak (for example) of the "western spirit" when we should more appropriately say "the western mind", and so on.

    In the ancient world (until the concept of reincarnation was made illegal and prosecuted by the law) people had clearer ideas, and knew that the individual is a spiritual soul that takes birth again and again in different bodies.

    Philosophy and religion offered ontological, cosmological and ethical explanations and guidance for a better life, based on the respect and harmonious cooperation towards the forces of nature, generally personified in the forms of Gods and Goddesses. Thus people were naturally and normally free from stress and could easily focus or center on the really important things of life - a decent livelihood, good family relationships, rewarding social interactions, healthy opportunities for entertainment.

    Indian/Vedic culture offered even more than this, because of a more scientific approach to the knowledge of the Self (atma vidya), and therefore in ancient times many western scholars, philosophers and scientists traveled to India to study and learn Yoga. They called it "gymnosophy".

    Yoga (as expressed in Bhagavad gita as well in Patanjali's famous Yoga sutras) teaches that the Self is not material but spiritual, and gives a scientific definition of "spiritual" as sat-cit-ananda: eternally existing, divine in nature, consisting in pure awareness and original knowledge, and full of inner happiness.

    This Self (technically called Atman) is an atomic particle in the "All", the Total Reality, or the Supreme Self (technically called Brahman), therefore all living entities are connected at a very deep level.

    By realizing one's inner Self, one automatically finds perfect happiness, awareness and knowledge, and a permanent existence that is not interrupted by death.

    The Self is covered by a number of material layers (called koshas), beginning with the mind or the mental body. The mind is made of material substance, that is subtle in nature rather than gross like the external body made of flesh and bones.

    Since the mind pervades the entire body, in order to control the mind one should first start by controlling the body. The proper steps to control the body (and the senses that are the extensions of the body) are:

    a) following some simple lifestyle rules and develop good clean healthy habits
    b) setting the body in physical positions that can facilitate meditation
    c) learning to control breathing, which is an important tool in dealing with emotions and thoughts
    d) detaching one's attention from external attractions and focus/ center on the mind within
    e) dropping all unnecessary and non-beneficial thoughts and emotions, and cleaning the mind to concentrate on one beneficial object of meditation
    f) practicing the constant awareness on the beneficial object of meditation for longer periods and in various circumstances, until it becomes the natural way of life

    The most beneficial object of meditation is naturally the Self, or Atman.
    The Vedic scriptures contain an immense wealth of information on this subject.
  2. Ignorant

    Ignorant New Member

    For a beginner who does not have the background to study such Vedic scriptures, these are the basic exercises:
    Witness meditation
    The first step in actual meditation is to become aware of the mind's activities.
    The mind is like a radio, broadcasting constantly, 24 hours a day, and most people are used to its chattering but not aware of what is going on there because they do not really listen to it, therefore they react instead of acting, or they act without awareness, or based on mental patterns which are more or less automatic.
    How many steps do you take every day? You don't know, because you are not consciously counting them. How many breathing cycles do you take every day? How many thoughts do you have every hour? You don't know, because you are not aware of them.
    A simple exercise to train the mind in the Witness Meditation consists in noticing the passing of time, which is clearly visible in the cycle of day and night, and performing some simple actions, like offering respect to the sun at dawn, midday and sunset, offering respect to the food before eating, and taking a moment to become aware of yourself when you wake up in the morning and before you go to sleep at night:

    Another simple exercise consists in writing a diary. Writing helps us to become conscious of our mental processes, and to objectivize processes which otherwise seem subjective. In other words: most people identify themselves with the mind and say "I think", "I believe", "I want", when it is actually the mind that thinks, believes and wants.
    When we write a diary, the objects of our thoughts become clearer and more definite, more conscious, because we separate from them and observe them from outside. In this way we become more able to deal with emotions, fears, defects, hopes, planning and failures, by observing them in a more detached way.

    For example: when you wear some clothes, it is more difficult to be aware of their conditions. We do not see easily if they are dirty, properly ironed, properly stitched, ripped or worn out. However, when we take off the clothes and observe them separately from our body, we can easily notice all these conditions and we can modify them.

    Writing a diary is therefore a system to deal with our mind in the same way we speak with a different person; we become more objective and also more detached.

    Silence meditation

    A more advanced exercise in Witness Meditation is observing silence (mauna).
    We consciously decide to observe full silence for a specific time, preferably in a regular way -- one day a week, one hour a day, one or two days a month -- and we train our awareness and will power to complete our vow even if some difficulties arise. If we need to communicate, we can write or communicate with gestures, but we keep strict silence or we simply utter some mantra or transcendental sound. This practice helps us to become detached from the mind and its urges.

    It also controls the other senses, because the tongue is the main sense. By observing silence and control of diet, we can scientifically control all other senses.

    It is better to start with some easy practice -- for example, one hour a day or a week, in a proper time, when we can relax and not be disturbed by others. We can sit in meditation posture and simply keep silent, or we can do some suitable work (like creative work). This will also help our family and friends to take our practice seriously, so that they will not disturb us in more complex meditation practices in the future.

    In some particular cases, it might be possible to observe the Silence Meditation for longer periods, but in this case one should be particularly careful about diet, life habits, occupations, and personal hygiene: one should eat once a day, and only strictly vegetarian sattvik food, wash one's mouth properly at least 3 times a day, bathe 2 or 3 times a day, and engage the mind in some sattvik activity, like studying or listening to mantras or devotional music, besides executing normal duties and work.

    Void meditation

    The next step in Mind Training is Void Meditation.
    After training the body to keep the discipline of silence, we can teach the same discipline to the mind.
    Starting with 5 to 10 minutes every day, one should try to keep his/her mind free from useless chattering and from the unlimited demands, thoughts, ideas, likes and dislikes, etc.
    Sitting in meditation posture, one should carefully observe the mind, and whenever some thought comes, we should have a good look at it in a detached way, and then let it go, because this is not the proper time to entertain it. In this way we make a conscious choice and an effort to control the activity of our mind.
    As soon we drop a thought, we experience silence and peace, before the next thought comes in.
    After some practice, it will be possible to experience longer periods of mental peace, a state of mind when silence is growing like a calm lake in the night. This is because the mind is losing her fear of nothingness and silence, and enjoys the peace and relaxation.
    The best result is attained also with the help of breath control (pranayama).
    This Void Meditation exercise is very useful to further distinguish our real self from the mind: WE control the mind, and it takes some work and effort.
    However, this stage of mental silence is only temporary, and is used to clean the mind from negative or useless thoughts. It is not possible or advisable to maintain it for very long periods of time, because peace and relaxation, when not properly directed in the spiritual orientation, can cause drowsiness and sleep.

    Power meditation
    The next step, when the mind has been cleaned of its clutter -- useless and negative thoughts and feelings -- is to concentrate the awareness on a positive meditation.
    A very good exercise consists in meditating on something we want to attain or obtain or repeating positive affirmations, like:
    - I can love myself
    - I love life and the universe and I allow myself to be loved
    - I have existed before, I exist now, I will continue to exist eternally
    - I can develop my own personal power, prosperity, mind control, intelligence, efficiency
    - I want to be happy and healthy
    - I want to have good relationships with others
    - life is good and the universe is able to provide unlimited prosperity
    - I can choose how I want to be, live, behave and feel
    - I can let bad things, wounds, unhappiness, anxiety, go away
    - the universe if full of love, beauty, power and knowledge
    - I do not need to create suffering for myself or others

    You can also make a list with the personal inner assets and blessings you have received, good qualities, successes and advantages your good karma has provided you.
    You can make a list o short, medium and long term goals.
    You can make a list of the bad qualities or habits you want to eliminate, problems you want to solve, things to do. All these lists must remain strictly personal, and you should keep them in a safe place. If there is a possibility that other people will read them, you will not write the lists in a relaxed and open state of mind.

  3. Ignorant

    Ignorant New Member

    An experienced yogi can meditate in any place, but for beginners a proper quiet and sattvik place is necessary. However, even experienced yogis take great care in choosing the environment in which they live and meditate, because bad vibrations from places, objects and people can seriously disturb meditation and even health.

    Vedic knowledge and specifically the science of Vastu sastra gives detailed suggestions on how to plan and organize one's environment in order to have the best influences. Usually one is recommended to face east or north; there should be no obstructions in those directions (trees, mountains, buildings, etc) so we should be able to see the sun or an expanse of land nice enough to soothe the mind.

    Bhagavad Gita recommends that one should live alone in a secluded place (6.10, 18.52), but if this is not possible, at least one should have a room where s/he will not be disturbed.
    The place should be as sacred as possible, free from bad people, criminal records and bad activities, free from insects and other animals, from pollution of any kind (garbage, sewage, bad smells, sound, electric and/or magnetic fields etc). It is better if the same place is used repeatedly and regularly, because places and objects accumulate vibrations and energy.

    The sitting place is also important. One should not sit on the naked earth or floor, because this can create a disturbance (cold, insects, etc), so it is recommended to utilize at least a straw mat, or possibly a folded woolen blanket.

    It is better to use natural materials (wool, cotton, grass, straw) and not synthetic materials.


    The time for meditation is usually chosen to fit our normal schedules of duties, but there are specific times that are extremely effective: the junctions of day and night. In this periods, our body and mind, and the environment are particularly conducive to meditation and energy utilization.
    A simple proof is our breathing. Usually we do not utilize both nostrils in normal breathing -- we alternate according to the activity, time of the day, temperature of the environment, as the left nostril cools the body (moon influence) and the right one heats it (sun influence). Each nostril is also connected with one of the two hemispheres of the brain -- the left hemisphere being influenced by the sun and the right by the moon.
    In normal life, only in short periods the two nostrils are working at the same time -- exactly when both the hemispheres of the brain are working together. In more advanced yogis this happens naturally for longer durations of time, while in untrained people these happen in emergencies, and in specific times of the day (dawn, noon, sunset). Midnight is also another powerful moment, as the earth's energy is strongest.

    Therefore these three periods of time are very recommended for meditation and yoga practice.

    Special sessions of meditation or first attempts at a specific practice will be more successful during specific lunar times, like full moon, black moon, eleventh day, eight day, eclipse or auspicious astrological positions.

    Another important consideration pertaining to time is the biological function clock. One should not sit to meditate after eating a meal, or before emptying bladder and intestine, because this will hamper the meditation with physical distractions.

    It is also better to meditate when we are nicely rested, otherwise it is very likely that our meditation will simply become a sleeping opportunity; sleeping or dozing might be relaxing, but it is better to sleep properly in one's bed.

    Therefore the best schedule for meditation is getting up early in the morning, about two hours before sunrise (brahma muhurta), attend to bodily needs and then sit to meditate until half an hour after the sunrise. This period is also very quiet because those who do not practice meditation and yoga are still engrossed in sleep, and no materialistic activities are going on at that time, so the atmosphere is very peaceful and pure.

    The duration of the meditation for beginners can vary according to practice and convenience.

    If one has one hour, it can be divided into 15 minutes bodily exercise (asana), 10 minutes breathing (pranayama), and 35 minutes pure meditation (dhyana). According to needs, time can be varied.

    It is better to keep a clock nearby, so that we can calculate time properly, but if one is sensitive to natural cycles (which is always better), the growing light of dawn can function as a perfect time calculator.

    Another very important consideration is regularity: we should choose a time frame for our meditation practice which we can keep regularly every day (same time). Without regular practice, the results will be very poor: it is better to practice regularly every day for one month, than to practice irregularly for one year.


    Food is the most important item for health, energy and mental development. Eating the wrong food creates imbalances, disease, unhappiness and loss of memory and intelligence.
    Yogis carefully choose sattvik foods -- fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, sprouts, fresh milk and milk products, freshly cooked and clean preparations made from natural grains and the other vegetarian ingredients. Honey and jaggery are especially recommended.

    Spices, fried foods, oils, onion and garlic, excess salt and condiments, artificial flavors, white sugar, refined flour and refined rice are not favourable for health and meditation.

    Meat, fish, eggs, wine and alcohol, coffee, tea (as well as drugs of all kinds) are very detrimental to health and meditation and should be carefully avoided.

    According to special considerations (particular health conditions etc) a proper diet should be organized for best results both in normal life and for personal growth and cultivation of self realization.



    The literal meaning of ahimsa is "absence of hatred". Non violence is a general rendition, but it is important to understand the wider meaning. Hostility and hatred cause more harm in the hater than in the hated, because negative feelings disrupt the flow of prana, disperse energy and concentration and create bad influences and karma. On the other hand, abstaining from cruelty and violence creates good karma, accumulate good energy, creates peaceful situation in the mind and senses, and attracts good people and events in our lives.

    Baudhika ahimsa (non violence of the intellect) means training oneself to consider all living entities with benevolence, like brothers and sisters, and to avoid confrontation as much as possible.

    Vacika ahimsa (non violence of speech) means abstaining from insulting and giving bad advice to others, while instead practicing soft and kind speech, and loving expressions. It also means avoiding offensive expressions and remarks, mocking, jeering, picking at someone or creating suffering to others in any way through one's words.

    Saririk ahimsa (non violence of body) is obviously abstaining from hurting, beating or killing any living entity, including animals and plants. Of course, in this world it is practically impossible to completely avoid all violence to other living entities (even by walking we may crush little insects, or by eating vegetables we have to cut plants) but all our actions should be trained in compassion, awareness and friendship to all living entities. We must anticipate all the consequences of our actions so that we can evaluate if they should be performed or not. Also allowing violence to go on unchecked is a form of violence. In this case, using force to stop violence is the correct course of action, especially when violence is directed towards innocent and helpless living entities, people or animals or plants.


    Truthfulness is a basic principle for anyone who wishes to progress in life. Consistency in precept and behavior is the main and most fundamental aspect of truthfulness.

    Baudhika satya (truthfulness of the intellect) means being honest with oneself, and searching true knowledge and reality.

    Vacika satya (truthfulness of speech) obviously means abstaining from telling lies and things which can harm other people. Another important aspect of truthfulness is keeping promises and vows in spite of personal difficulties.

    Saririk satya (truthfulness of body) means truthfulness in action, acting out our realizations, distributing real knowledge and helping other people to progress in life and self-realization. It also means abstaining from manipulating others and creating difficult situations for others.
  4. Ignorant

    Ignorant New Member


    "Non stealing" does not simply mean abstaining from stealing money from someone else's pockets or his car or bicycle.
    Baudhika asteya (honesty of the intellect) means not approving a cheating mentality and values based on exploitation of others, of nature and of knowledge. Bluffing, carving out excessive profit from business, making money without working, gambling, borrowing things or money without giving them back, avoiding to pay one's dues, are all symptoms of a cheating mentality.
    Vacika asteya (honesty of speech) means abstaining from getting the credit for things we did not do. It also means abstaining from diminishing other people's dignity, merits, happiness, glory or heritage.
    Saririk asteya (honesty of body) means taking things which do not belong to us and for which we did not work, including resources of the world. It also means maintaining one's needs to a healthy minimum without amassing excessive money or goods we do not need for our decent maintenance.


    The meaning of brahmacharya is something more than simply controlling or abstaining from sex life. It means acting on the level of Brahman, the position of transcendental spiritual realization, where all living entities are seen equally as eternal spirit souls, and we understand that their bodies are simply an outer temporary covering. Brahmacharya means being able to see persons instead of men or women.

    Baudhika brahmacharya (celibacy of the intellect) is a way of thinking and seeing people, considering them and treating them according to the transcendental Brahman realization. A person who is situated on the level of Brahman realization also understands that matter (including bodies) is a product of Brahman, energy of the Supreme Lord and therefore sacred. The Lord resides in the heart of all living entities, and this makes every body a temple of the Divine.

    Vacika brahmacarya (celibacy of speech) means abstaining from vulgar or sexual expressions, sexual stories etc.

    Success in saririk brahmacarya (celibacy of body) and control of sexual energy and desire is helped by avoiding to eat foods prepared or cooked by people who are engrossed in sex life or negative thinking or behavior, avoiding rajasic or tamasic foods (i.e. spices, excess sugar, stimulants, onion, garlic etc) avoiding the company of materialistic people, bathing regularly, wearing clean clothes, and some yoga asana, pranayama and bandha.


    Simplicity means freedom from greed and avarice. It also means detachment from material pleasure and possessions.
    Baudhika aparigraha (simplicity of the intellect) entails considering the priorities in one's life, and understanding that the limited time allotted to each of us must be used in the best way to ensure real happiness. Sense gratification and possession of material objects are not able to give real happiness, rather one always wants more and more, because the satisfaction is only temporary and incomplete.
    Simplicity of the intellect also means renouncing the pride for becoming a great personality -- a great yogi, a great scholar, a great religionist etc.
    Vacika aparigraha (simplicity of speech) mainly is avoiding unnecessary talking (prajalpa), gossiping, criticizing, or expecting glorification of oneself and one's work. The practice of Silent Meditation is very helpful in this regard.
    Saririk aparigraha (simplicity of body) means avoiding excesses in bodily needs -- extravagant and costly clothing, foods, lyfe habits etc. Every individual has specific needs regarding food, clothing, housing etc, but we should always be careful not to try to accumulate more than what we actually need



    The first of the practices in a yogic lifestyle is cleanliness -- which is said to be next to godliness.

    Baudhika sauca (cleanliness of the intellect) is internal cleanliness, showing in our way of life, aspirations, interests and values. It means always trying to purify one's life, mind and intentions.

    Vacika sauca (cleanliness of speech) means speaking truthfully and simply, and also clearing the voice through practices like loud singing, chanting of hymns and prayers, and pranayama.

    Saririk sauca (cleanliness of body) obviously means bathing regularly, brushing teeth and hair, keeping all our personal items clean and neat, regularly washing clothes, shoes, bedding, rooms, articles etc. External cleanliness can be helped by specific preparations and applications, like clay, triphala, ubtan, etc.

    Keeping hair and nail trimmed and clean, shaving regularly, removing unwanted hair are also parts of the cleanliness practice. Also keeping our residence or quarters or working places clean and purified by air and light, and avoiding bad habits like unnecessarily putting objects and fingers in the mouth, throwing garbage, spitting everywhere, etc.

    Internally speaking, cleanliness means eating clean food and periodically cleansing the system in various ways, starting from fasting and detoxification, and sometimes including the famous six kriyas (cleaning the stomach, the intestine, the nose and sinus, the eyes, the head etc)


    Baudhika santosa (satisfaction of the intellect) means accepting God's will in a positive way, by searching the positive aspects of all events and trusting the goodness and love of the universe. It means being open to changes and to remain in the same situation with patience and gratefulness, being ready to give up what is not necessary or suitable for progress in life, and considering with detachment profit and loss, honor and disonor, success or failure, etc, as recommended in Bhagavad Gita.

    Vacika santosa (satisfaction of speech) is also connected with simplicity of speech and with cleanliness of speech, but specifically means cultivating the habit of just saying what is essential and avoiding controversies. This is helped by the practice of trying to see things from different perspectives, i.e. putting oneself in someone else's place and observing facts and situation from their perspective.

    Saririk santosa (satisfaction of body) means actually enjoying what has been allotted to us by the grace of God, appreciating it and being grateful for all our blessings.


    Austerity or discipline means being able to tolerate hunger, thirst, heat, cold and other difficulties we all have to face in life, without losing our patience.

    Baudhika tapas (austerity of the intellect) means developing the courage and strength to face life and its difficulties, by continuing to behave in a proper way according to truthfulness. It also means practicing meditation and executing one's duties with patience, determination and enthusiasm. Whenever we fall, we should stand up and resume walking, whenever we fail, we should summon courage and strength and try again. On the contrary those austerities which are motivated by pride and egotism, not recommended by the Scriptures and intended to please one's lust and attachment, by torturing the body and the material elements (17.5-6) are demoniac and false austerities.

    Bhagavad Gita (17.16) also recommends as austerity the regular effort of developing peacefulness, simplicity, gravity, self control and purification of one's existence.

    Vacika tapas (austerity of speech) is described in Gita (17.15) as practicing truthfulness, speaking in pleasing way, speaking for the benefit of people, regular recitation of vedic knowledge and hymns; it also means the practice of silence and simplicity of speech.

    Saririk tapas (austerity of body) is described in Gita (17.14) as worship of the Supreme, of the brahmanas, the teachers and elders, and the constant effort to maintain cleanliness, simplicity, celibacy and nonviolence.


    Studying the scriptures and the transcendental knowledge received from the teachers is necessary in order to improve one's understanding and efficiency in development of human potential.

    Baudhika svadhyaya (cultivation of the intellect) means developing a mental attitude of learning and study.

    Vacika svadhyaya (cultivation of speech) means reciting one's lessons, mantras, hymns, writing and commenting on sacred texts, translating and preparing summary studies, articles and study guides.

    Saririk svadhyaya (cultivation of body) entails taking proper care of one's books and papers, and physically practicing study, with exercises according to the need.


    It means dedicating all one's energies and life to the service of the Divine. The ultimate purpose of yoga and meditation is actually reaching the platform of transcendental union with the Supreme Self. This does not mean that we have to give up our jobs, families and normal activities, but simply that we can relate everyone and everything in our life to the transcendental and Divine presence and love.

    This part of the foundation of yoga and meditation is connected with the section Devotional Meditation, Samadhi, etc. Baudhika isvara-pranidhana is the devotion of the intellect, or general divine contemplation of life, vacika isvara-pranidhana is devotion of speech and glorification of the Supreme, saririk isvara-pranidhana is the devotion of body and therefore action in the transcendental service.
  5. Ignorant

    Ignorant New Member

    What is breathing

    Breathing is a unique mechanism which connects and harmonizes the different aspects of our physical being, mind, feelings, energy and spirit. It can be unconscious and uncontrolled, or controlled in many ways. One who can perfectly control breathing can also come to control all other unconscious functions of the body (the movements of the various airs within the body, the five pranas as we will see later on), including movements of digestive systems, movements of the heart and blood circulation.

    Changing the breath at the first sign of any physical or mental disturbance prevents worsening of symptoms and promotes rapid recovery. Breathing is also extremely important during pregnancy and child delivery.

    Control of breathing is very effective in controlling the mind, thoughts and emotions, and is also spontaneously used in this way -- when we are angry we breath anxiously, noisily and/or in a shallow way, when we are excited we breath in a very fast way, when we are calm and relaxed we breath in deep, long and slow breaths. In the same way, we can influence these states of mind by consciously altering our breathing pattern: deep, long and slow breathing will bring about relaxation, while fast and shallow breathing will cause excitement and fast flowing energy, releasing hormones and endorphines in the blood. Fast and deep breathing will iperventilate the brain breaking energetic blocks and creating deep changes in personality, therefore the techniques of pranayama which utilize this kind of breathing must be practiced with great care and preferably under the guidance of an experienced teacher.

    Another important function of breathing is carrying nutrients and expelling waste throughout the body. With every inhalation, air carries oxygen into the lungs, then in the bloodstream, and to every cell of our system, while exhalation carries out waste substances, mainly carbon dioxide from the oxidation of nutrients in the blood (burning the calories).

    Breathing is a natural clock of the body, and measures the passing of hours, days and months.

    Not only that: due to heating and cooling properties respectively of the right and left nostrils, all bodily functions are maintaned regularly. For this reason, it is recommended to breathe only through nostrils and never through the mouth (except for exhalation, in some exercises).

    Normally, breathing switches from one nostril every hour or so, but it can be changed by laying down on the side of the operating nostril (with a pillow under the rib cage); change occurs within 3 to 10 minutes.

    When right nostril operates, the stomach produces more gastric acid and more inner heat is produced (for this reason, lying down for 15 minutes on one's left side after meals greatly helps digestion), while left nostril breathing, body chemistry becomes mostly alkaline (as opposed to acid) and cools the system.

    Traditionally, one should start activities in the period of operation of the proper nostril:

    - left for starting new business or charity, dancing, curing depression, meeting loved ones or friends, talking to elders, gardening, playing music, depositing money, taking sannyas, buying and wearing jewelry, reading or writing poetry, learning to read, making short journeys, and all long terms peaceful activities not performed to get immediate benefit,

    - right for hard physical labor and fast jobs, bathing, eating, warfare, wood cutting, etc.

    As we have already mentioned, during some times of the day (dawn, noon, sunset) and about once every hour, both nostrils operate together; practice of pranayama allows to increase the duration of this situation: this is the best time for meditating, yoga and chanting mantras. During this time it is better not to disturb the balance of breathing and brain hemisphere, so one should not eat or drink, use the toilet, bathe or perform activities which modify the breath pattern (runnnig, performing strong physical exercise etc).

    Basic breathing

    Generally we tend to take short breaths (15 cycles/minute), especially if we are living in stressful conditions or polluted environment. Short, fast breathing is stimulating the body to react to stress. If we want to relieve stress and properly oxigenate the cells (including the brain), we need to take longer, deeper breaths, fully utilizing our potential breathing capacity.

    a) Easy version

    - Sit (or lie) comfortably in meditation posture.

    - Exhale fully, then immediately start inhaling by filling the abdominal area, the chest, and the shoulder area (bottom, middle and top of lungs). When you think lungs are full, pull in some more air.

    - When lungs are REALLY full, exhale again slowly and fully, starting from the top of the lungs, then emptying the middle part and then the bottom.

    - Continue for at least 10 cycles, then return to natural breathing. Practice every day.

    b) Stronger version

    - Sit erect in meditation posture or pranayama posture

    - Inhale while lifting your arms and hands above your head, as high as possible

    - Exhale while bringing arms down

    - Repeat at least 10 times, then return to natural breathing.

    Healing breathing

    Imagine/visualize a golden brilliant cloud entering your body when you inhale, pervading your entire body while holding the breath, and becoming a black thick cloud of smoke when you exhale.

    You will notice that after a cycle of 10 breaths (inhale/exhale) the black smoke will spontaneously become thinner and clearer. DO NOT force your visualization to "make it" blacker. Let your subconscious mind see your subtle body as it is, not as you want it to be, or as you mentally believe it should be.

    Another technique is executed standing, hands resting on hips. Turn head to left, open mouth and exhale forecefully, expelling all bad things. Bring head on straight position again, inhale very deeply and slowly through nose, filling your body completely with air. Then contract all the muscles in the body, until they slightly tremble, then relax and exhale through your mouth, without turning your head, with two short and fast exhalations.

    There are many variations of this basic healing breathing, used by most mystical cultures in the world (derived from yoga practice). You can use the movement of arms (see illustration) to help the process:

    a) keep hands joined in anjali mudra on the chest, open hands and arms while inhaling,

    b) bring back arms and hands while exhaling

    Keep the time for inhalation and exhalation of the same duration; try to gradually increase the length without strain, by slowing the cycle.

    Alternate breathing

    This breathing favours balance in breathing and generally two-nostril breathing, which is very effective in meditation as it balances the functions of both brain hemispheres.

    For the physical procedure and the position of fingers to block nostrils (Siva mudra), please see illustrations. Keep Siva mudra with right hand, keep cin mudra with right hand, resting on knee.

    Sit comfortably erect and relax.

    Close left nostril, inhale with right nostril for 5 seconds

    Close both nostrils for 5 seconds, then exhale from left nostril for 10 seconds

    Inhale from left nostril for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, exhale from right for 10 seconds

    This is a complete cycle; execute 7 cycles daily. Every week increase 2 to 5 cycles, until you practice 32-40 cycles daily, then when you can easily keep this practice, increase the length of the breathing passages in this way:

    Close left nostril, inhale with right nostril for 5 seconds

    Close both nostrils for 7.5 seconds, then exhale from left nostril for 10 seconds

    Inhale from left nostril for 5 seconds, hold for 7.5 seconds, exhale from right for 10 seconds

    Then from the ratio 5/5/10 and 5/7.5/10, increase to 5/10/10, then to 5/12.5/10, to 5/15/10, to 5/17.5/10 and finally qith 5/20/10; every time you increase the breath length start with 7 cycles daily only, with increasing patterns of 2 to 5 cyles, until practicing 32-40 cycles easily.

    Balanced breathing

    This technique allows to attain a state when both nostrils function at the same time; this is particularly useful in meditation; it is simpler than the previous practice. Keep Siva mudra with right hand.

    Sit comfortably erect and relax, close right nostril, inhale for one time unit.

    Hold breath for 4 time units.

    Exhale for 2 time units through left nostril.

    Reverse the procedure:

    Close left nostril, inhale for one time unit

    Hold breath for 4 time units

    Exhale for 2 time units through right nostril.

    Maintain until you reach both nostrils breathing.

    Continuous breathing or circular breathing

    A very popular and efficient pranayama practice, allows to release emotional blocks and helps free flow to energy in all energy channels and chakras. Expect emotional imbalance during or shortly after the practice, but do not worry: it is like the toxin expulsion which happens to the physical body during and after a fasting.

    1. Sit comfortably erect and relax.

    Inhale deeply and slowly, then exhale immediately, deeply and slowly, then inhale again and continue with the cycle without interruptions. Gradually speed up the breathing but keep it deep.

    When you feel light headed or dizzy, slow down again and gradually return to normal breathing. Relax.

    Purification with circular breathing

    Execute the circular breathing for about one minute, then hold your breath as long as possible.
    Visualize prana soaking in your whole body, remain sitting perfectly still, head and back straight.
    When you need to exhale, do so with force from the mouth, "spitting out" breath. Keep head and back straight and relaxed, eyes closed.
  6. Ignorant

    Ignorant New Member

    Dynamic breathing

    This breathing technique utilizes the motion of the head to increase the flow of energy in and out.

    a) Absorbing energy

    - Sit comfortably erect, close eyes and relax. Breathe through the nose only.

    - Start with face forward, and while exhaling, turn your head to the right.

    - Then while inhaling, turn your head to the left.

    - Finally, bring your head again forward, exhaling.

    b) Clear waste energy

    - Sit comfortably erect, close eyes and relax. Breathe through the nose only.

    - Start with face forward, inhale and hold your breath in for 5 seconds and turn your head to the left.

    - Then while exhaling, turn your head to the left.

    - Finally, bring your head again forward, holding your lungs empty.

    c) Fast cycle

    - Sit comfortably erect, close eyes and relax. Breathe through the nose only.

    - Start with your head turned to the right, then turn head to left by inhaling

    - Return to right side by exhaling

    d) Deep stimulation

    - Sit comfortably erect, close eyes and relax.

    - Start with your head turned forward, inhale while bending forward and turning to the right,

    then lift head upwards and to the left

    - rotate head from left to right by moving downward, exhaling through the mouth.

    Memory breathing (Ujjaya)

    Sit in meditation posture, practice stomach contraction (uddiyana bandha) and exhale fully through nostrils.

    Slowly inhale, partially closing the throat passage for speaking: this will produce a light "s-a-a-a" sound resonating within the head and on the palate. Do not inflate the abdomen, keep stomach muscles contracted, because the prana should not descend lower than heart region (nose/throat/heart).

    When lungs are full, contract throat (jalamdhara bandha) without strain, then exhale slowly and deeply from both nostrils: the light sound produced is "ha-a-a".

    Repeat for 3 times, gradually increasing as per system described above.

    The effect of this exercise is useful to remember past lives, astral travelling, controlled dreaming, etc.

    When performing this kind of meditation, close your eyes, and in your mind try to see events and people like photos in a tunnel, while you move quickly through it.

    You can start the exercise by remembering what happened today or yesterday, then going back in time.

    After sufficient exercise, you can perform this exercise with your house and neighborhood: keeping your eyes closed, visualize the room you are in, then visualize the rest of the house, the outside of the house, the neighborhood, as if your mental body was travelling out. Try to see things from above, by visualizing your mental body that raises up and goes out of the room through a window, door or roof, then travels in the air.

    1. you become aware you have a mind that needs some training and control to become more quiet
    2. you focus your attention inwards and become aware of what actually goes through your mind
    3. you make the deliberate choice and effort to drop all the thoughts, emotions, etc, that are not beneficial
    4. you practice focusing ("centering") your mind on something that is beneficial - there are plenty of good exercises to do this
    5. you learn how to drive your mind consciously, to take care of its real needs, to become good friends and engage it beneficially for your life; this creates a relaxed feeling because your mind is not working AGAINST YOU any more.
  7. Meditation is the activity of using the mind to reflect deeply and continuously on spiritual matters. This is the process to focus our attention on the Supreme by chanting a mantra (sacred sound or name of the Supreme).
    This has the effect of helping us to cope better with stress and thus improve our physical and mental well-being. It also helps to provide insights into the workings of the mind and emotions and it further helps us develop clarity and wisdom, gaining a greater understanding of life. Most importantly we can experience a deep inner peace and lasting happiness by reawakening our natural spiritual consciousness and becoming self-realized.

    Mantra meditation is a wonderfully uplifting experience which becomes more and more attractive the more we do it. It is a very simple process of hearing and repeating the sacred Mantra.

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