With food, is not only meant the meals that are taken in through the mouth. Rather, food refers to everything that is taken in through the senses, whether it are the eyes, ears, mouth or skin. What we are eating, reading, listening to, watching and everything that we absorb with our senses, is of influence of our state of being. When one reads negative news, watches violent movies or listens to sad music, one’s state of being will be effected as well. Thus, one must be conscious about what the senses are absorbing.
What one eats is of great influence on one’s state of being. The body and the mind are interconnected and of direct influence on each other. Food creates prana shakti: life-force. As we know, prana shakti (vital energy) and manas shakti (mental energy) are interrelated and of great influence on each other. When the body is full of toxins, the mind will be negative as well. Simultaneously, when the mind is negative, it has a negative effect on the body and results in physical tension.
Thus, one’s mind will be effected differently by either organic or processed foods As we know, every action has its reaction. In the same way, everything we put inside our body has its reaction as well. When the body is full of toxins, prana shakti cannot flow. Because of toxins and waste material, there is an increase in inflammatory cells, which are the main cause for disease. Simultaneously, the mind is distracted and full of fluctuations. Thus, the first step in Hatha yoga is shatkarma; cleansing of the internal bodily systems.
Not only is our state of being effected by the food itself, but also by the vibrations that are generated during the cooking of the food. The state of mind with which the food is cooked is as influence as well. When food is cooked with a distracted mind, it can create confusion in the mind. Thus, one must be immersed in the activity and cook the food with true bhava (intention), presence and joy. When it is unknown who cooked the food, one can purify the food beforehand. Purification can be done through the mantras and mudras of pancha prana. In this way, the food which is taken in gross from, transfers into subtle prana, having a positive influence on the body and the mind.
Once the food is prepared, it is important to eat the food with awareness and presence. Food is a form of worship in which one offers the food (a form of Brahma) to one’s inner presence of Brahma. The doer behind the action is also Brahma. Thus the mantra is repeated beforehand:
Brahmārpañam Brahma Havir BrahmāgnauBrahmañāhutaṃ,
Brahmaiva Tena Gantavyam BrahmakarmāSamādhinah.
The act of offering is God. The oblation is God. By God it is offered into the Fire of God. God is That which is to be attained by him who performs action pertaining to God.
One must make food into a meditation. When one is eating but the mind is elsewhere, one will not be satisfied and more likely to take more and overeat. One must be fully aware at the moment of eating. Aware the structure of the food, the colors, the taste. Eating with the hands increases the connection and awareness as well. In this way, eating becomes a sadhana by itself.
‘Man’ means ‘mind’ and ‘tra’ means ‘liberation’. Thus, mantra is to liberate the mind from its bondage through sound vibration.
The very first subtle manifestation, after consciousness and energy interacted with each other, was sound. Sound is the manifestation of consciousness and energy in their purest form. However, the sound that we hear through the ears is gross, material noise. Subtle sound is spandan, vibration, which is the first evolute.
Shiva Charitra describes the emergence of the world. It is described that Shiva manifests in the world in the form of sound vibration. This vibratory layer is called shabda sharir, in which ‘shabda’ means sound and ‘sharir’ means body.
In the beginning, a nada, primal sound manifested, like the sound of an explosion. This sound is called as God’s shabda sharir. After, there emerged the jyotirlingam, with neither a beginning nor an end. This is called as the prakashmaya sharir of God, the body of light. This light body has been called as linga sharir, as it is visualized in the form of a lingam, which is symbolic for the formless, transcendental God.
The entire universe is moving, vibrating and pulsating. Pulsation indicates expansion and contraction. The universe expands, and one day it will return to out of which it arose. The universe is not only pulsating externally, but also internally. In our own atomic structure there is expansion and contraction as well, and each and every atom is vibrating in its own frequency. This vibration is caused by movement. Without movement, there would be stillness. This movement gives rise to vibration, which is the very first act of consciousness and energy. Whatever vibrations are found in the external cosmos, is found within as well, since the micro cosmos is part of the macro cosmos. These vibrations, or antar nadas (inner sounds) are realized by yogis in deep meditations.
We can only hear frequencies within a certain range of decibels. Our hearing capacity is limited and anything above or below this range is not perceived. However, as one exceeds the limits of the senses, in the causal state of consciousness, one discovers that there is a lot more to be experienced than the gross level.
Thus, sound is a form of energy that has frequency, pitch, volume and tone, as well as subtle qualities. Sound is a vibration at a certain frequency and is able to make physical changes in living organism. When mantras are chanted, their sound waves are able to realign and reorganize energy patterns in both the body as well as the mind.
The most effective time for meditation is brahma muhurta. Brahma muhurta starts 1 hour and 36 minutes before sunrise. It lasts for 48 minutes and thus ends 48 minutes before sunrise. There is no specific time for brahma muhurta as it differs per location and season. If meditation is not possible at this time; in the morning before breakfast, in the afternoon at dusk, in the evening before bed or at midnight are beneficial times as well.
To best time to meditate is determined due to the flow of ida and pingala nadi, the subtle energy channes, located in the psychic body. Ida nadi is connected to the left nostril and pingala to the right. Ida is the conductor of manas shakti, mental energy, and pingala is the conductor of prana shakti, vital energy. The major part of the day, one of the two nostrils is more open and its respective nadi will be predominant; either there is more mental or vital energy. When ida is dominant, it is time for mental work (mental energy), whereas when pingala is dominant, it is time for physical work (vital energy). At some particular times of the day, both ida and pingala, the left and the right nostril, are equally opened. Neither there is more mental, nor vital energy, and both nadis are in balance. This happens naturally during dusk and dawn. When ida and pingala are in balance; the sushumna nadi, the central nadi, opens. The sushumna is the conductor of spiritual energy. This is the channel through which kundalini rises once it is awakened. Thus, when ida and pingala nadi are balanced, the body and mind are prepared for meditation. To balance the nadis, one can perform at least three rounds of nadi sodhana pranayama before meditation.
3/21/2023 0 Comments
Yoga is nothing separate from one’s daily life and job. This is the path of karma sannyasa; renunciation through karma; work. As karma sannyasa, one lives in the external world from total harmony, making a sadhana from daily life. One does not need to escape what he is doing, but increase his awareness and develop one’s state of being while he is performing his duties. A karma sannyasa may have a family, regular job, but is not attached to either of them. In all situations, he remains in balance.
The path of karma sannyasa is explained in the fifth chapter of the Bagavad Gita, in which Krishna explains the renunciation through action. There is no harm in action, the danger lies in attachment and dependence on the fruits of the actions performed. This is essentially the concept of karma sannyasa; live life fully, participate in all events externally, but internally maintain an attitude of non-doership.
Thus, one should not think that yoga and meditation are practiced outside the office hours. Rather, they are incorporated into each activity. To at all times feel present, with remembrance of the higher essence in the background and non-affected by what happens in the foreground.
To have the mind on the higher consciousness, serve and love is one of the highest sadhanas. For those who are established on this, no other austerities are needed.
Even with a busy lifestyle, there is always time to do something. Yoga and meditation do not have to last for two hours, but ten minutes of conscious breathing is enough if there is no more time. One can find what one feels most connected with and perform at least a few mantras, asanas or pranayama. Similarly, before bed one can take ten minutes for nadi sodhana pranayama or tratak to calm the mind.
The term sadhana comes from the Sanskrit root, sadhu, meaning “go straight to a goal”. The term ‘sadhana’ refers to a disciplined and dedicated practice or learning. In this context, it refers to dedicated (daily) spiritual practice, in which the practitioner uses tools like asana, pranayama, meditation and mantra to purify oneself and reach the goal of life.
Sadhana can be practiced in a group as well as individual. When developing one’s own sadhana, it is important to choose practices that work for oneself, with which one feels most connected. Sadhana is a discipline which must be continued over a long time for its effect to deepen, and thus one must find the connected tools to accomplish this.
Anything that is practiced with awareness, discipline and the intention of spiritual growth can be considered as sadhana. Thus, even daily activities, when the mind is fixed on the higher consciousness in the background, can be considered as a sadhana. All tools that help to establish meditation, harmony and union at all times are part of it. It is all about the result rather than the practice itself.
Practitioners of sadhana are called sadhakas.
If a yogi is the one who lives in a cottage at the bank of a river, then why cannot a turtle be a great yogi, who always lives at the bank of a river? If a yogi is the one who only eats plants and very little quantity, then why cannot a deer be a great yogi? These are not the things that make one a yogi.
Yoga is related to renunciation and non-attachment. What is understood as renunciation is to leave one’s house, give away all possessions and continue life with just a few amount of things. Renunciation means that one has no attachment. However, non-attachment is not measured in the more or less one has, but rather about one’s state of being. One can have a house, car and possessions while at the same time being totally non-attached. One does not have to escape the external world. Real renunciation is when one uses and enjoys material, but simultaneously accept their impermanence. There is no intense liking or disliking, and one remains non-attached.
Escaping the world and being in the most quiet environment, one will still fluctuate between joy and sorrow, because it is all within oneself. However, finding the state of yoga, one participates in the world from a state of liberation.
“I am in the world but not concerned with the world. I am going through the marketplace, but not as a purchaser." - Kabir
The yogi is the one who is always in harmony. The yogi is always non-affected by anything that happens around. There is no excessive enthousiasm, neither disappointed, the state of being always remains in balance.
One lives in the world but is not of the world, rather one is internally always connected with the higher consciousness.
Hanuman is the son of Vayu, the wind. He is an incarnation of Rudra, the transformative form of Shiva and is the greatest devotee of Rama. He has a big chin as he had mastered jalandhara bandha, which gives master over vayu tattva, air. This is why he can fly and take big leaps. He is one of the ashta cheeranjevees, meaning that he is one of the eight Gods that are alive in all four yugas.
He is brahmacharya as he conquered all his senses. All energy and input that come through his senses transfer into spiritual light. He is very brave, honest, truthful and established on his duty. He performs his duty without any distraction. All his energy is in service of the higher consciousness, without ever being worried about Himself.
Through japa and meditation of Hanuman, any disease can be cured and any obstacle can be overcome. All that matters is one’s bhakti, devotion. Devotion can destroy any external effect. Any obstacle can be overcome by the remembrance of Hanuman. Hanuman is still alive as one of the cheeranjevees. Whenever his chants are recited, He is always present to listen to His stories and adventures.
The existence of Hanuman is an abidance to the divine will. He has complete acceptance and surrender to the higher consciousness.
Hanuman is the true tantrik as he remains in his inner bhava of surrender without any bias for anyone and anything except the self ( Shree Ram) He is the yogi of a great order as he remains seated in the atma alone, never waivering from this location. Hanumana is also the greatest jnani as he sees everything in the Advaita bhava (Shivoham, I am shiva). Everywhere He looks, he sees only Rama. And indeed he is the greatest Bhakta too as his devotion is selfless and pure to Shree Ram.
Through meditation on Hanuman, we may become even a fraction of Hanuman consciousness and not stop short at worshipping him only as a deity, but rather become the tantrik, Yogi, jnani and bhakta that he embodies.
“Lord Ram gave Hanuman a quizzical look and said, "What are you, a monkey or a man?" Hanuman bowed his head reverently, folded his hands and said, "When I do not know who I am, I serve You and when I do know who I am, You and I are One.” - Tulsidas
"To whom shall I speak about it? For there is no one who will understand. The reality about the chord of love that binds you and me, is known to my soul alone; and my soul ever abides with you. Know this to be the essence of my love." - Hanuman, Sunderkand, Ramayana
Kirtan is part of mantra yoga as well as bhakti yoga. Kirtan is joyful chanting in which the name of God is repeated. Kirtan is most powerful when it is done in a group. Together, a powerful vibration is generated in which the separation between individuals disappears. One turns towards God through dance, music and chants. Kirtan is a practice of devotion.
Kirtan is the first step of mantra as it is a tool of pratyahara (sense withdrawal), introverting the mind through external practice. When the mind and senses are still externalized, it is difficult to concentrate during mantra japa, and thus at the beginning kirtan is the most powerful practice.
However, it does not matter how far one is on the path of yoga, kirtan remains powerful as it is a tool to open the heart and connect with the higher consciousness. In kirtan, it does not matter whether one is a great singer or not. All what matters is the devotion to the Supreme. Bhakti is by itself a complete practice that can lead one to higher experience.
"Kumbhak ( Retention of breath) can be attained through Bhakti also. When the emotion reaches climax, the breath stops and the mind becomes fixed" – Neem Karoli Baba
Yoga is a lifestyle, in which should establish one’s yoga experience in daily life. Yoga does not only happen in the moments of asana, pranayama and meditation. One must not only feel oneness with the higher consciousness in one’s sadhana, but rather carry the same feeling with oneself in every daily activity. To do what you do in the foreground, whereas the mind is fixed on the higher consciousness in the background. In this way, one establishes purity in mind, speech and action, in which everything is dedicated towards the higher consciousness.
Yoga happens in every activity. It is how one deals with the outside world and difficult situations. Humanity does not suffer because they don’t have asana, pranayama and meditation. Humanity suffers because of the outside world and relationships. Thus, yoga is to be in balance with the outside world.
There is yoga as a practice and yoga as a result. Some are in the state of yoga without ever having practiced yoga, whereas others have practiced yoga their whole lives without ever attaining the state of yoga. When the state of yoga is established, the world and situations are experienced beyond the dualities of good and bad, right or wrong, but rather situations simply ‘are’. One is completely non-affected and the outside world is experienced as nothing more than ripples on the surface of the ocean, in which one always resides in the stillness of the ocean.
Wisdom is the result of iccha shakti, willpower and kriya shakti, action power. One needs the will, the action without distraction) and its result will lead to wisdom.
In the tantric scriptures, five ways are mentioned to get this jnana shakti. The five methods that obtain jnana are as follows:
There is not one specific tradition that one should follow to obtain this wisdom. Not even the practice of yoga. There are two different types of yoga: yoga as practice and yoga as result. There are those in the state of yoga who have never practiced. And those who have practiced their whole life but never reach the state of yoga. It is nothing external, but all internal. Some have obtained the same wisdom through a different way.