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Sat1176

Advanced Stages Of Mantra Meditation

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Beautifully explained, gave some motivation to mind.

A question to practitioners, is mental repetition of Waheguru mantra fine in initial stages ? I do not like to do loud japa, because I dont want others in house to think that I am super religious or spiritual. I feel it jinxes me if others can hear me.

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The reason I ask the above question is because I seem to have gotten no where with mental repetition.

Maybe I am lacking in my rehit or something, or it is going to take ages for my dirt to clean up.

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Ragmaala,

You might also find the following information useful:

We should meditate by chanting the gurmantra (wahe-guru) while walking, sitting and standing, with our attention on our voice. By doing that the imbalance of the air gets corrected. Then our thoughts stop and our mind enter Sehaj (intuitive peace).

In the initial stages of meditation, we have to separate our mind from air and have to get absorbed in Sunn. Our mind should go into Sunn again and again by meditating to balance the air. Then we move to the next stage.

As per gurbani.

khatt naem kar kotharree baandhhee basath anoop beech paaee ||
The house of the mind is made of six rings, and placed within it the incomparable thing (Naam) inside it..

kunjee kulaf praan kar raakhae karathae baar n laaee
The lock and the key to the door of our mind’s home are made of air (the breath) and the Creator did this at no time at all.
SGGS 339

Let me point out that that balancing the air. i.e. both nostrils are open at the same time is no easy task to achieve. I've been practicing this for quite some time and I still can't get it to open on demand.

I will also say that one should not rush straight into internal simran if you cannot focus and hear your jaap externally and internally. The primary objective of doing swas-giras simran (out aloud) is to 1) learn to hear the jaap coming out of your mouth which in turn will help stop the thoughts of the mind because it is focused on the gurmantar. 2) To help balance the air in your left & right passages. If you rush in straight to internal simran with out doing sass-giras (out aloud) or sass sass (madhma -wisper) then your air won't balance on its own unless your meditating at the time your body naturally shifts from one side breathing to the other.

Another important fact I only recently learned was that sass-sass simran should not be done with short breaths. Quite often we rush our mantra and indirectly our breathing. Sass - sass should be done slowly and naturally. Both inhale and exhale should be the same length and "Wahe" part of gurmantar should be the same length and the "Guru". Sometimes we can say Wahe fast be elongate the "Guru" or vice versa. This is not balance.

This is also useful information:

If we fail to stay introverted (i.e. eyes closed looking inward) , the mind cannot look inside, and cannot unite with Waheguru. We also fail to open the door to the castle of our mind and the Naam of God does not appear inside of us. This is why it’s important to close our eyes in meditation and keep the mind introverted. We will only progress in the introverted state. When we are extroverted (i.e. looking out with the eyes), we should look at things with our impartial vision. This means to look at both forms of Waheguru– things with form and the formless. Form is known as Sargunn and the formless is known as Nirgunn. While introverted we can’t see outside and only the formless (nirgunn) remains.

Nirgunn: The empty space all around us. All the planets are in Nirgunn. It is the subtle form of God.

Sometimes I felt I could not always close my eyes yet inside I had the yearning to do simran. So I took this concept on board and put my dhyaan in the empty space between objects. i.e. the air in front of me. If you start appreciating this fact that Waheguru is in the space all around you then everywhere you look you see that empty mirror like space i.e. Waheguru. It gives your mind a reference point at which to focus your dhyaan and you feel your jaap has a direction. You don't want to be moving the eyes around looking all over. Just look straight ahead but don't look at an object. Look at the empty space. Slowly your eyes want to close by themselves.

Ideally one should definitely close the eyes when doing simran as per the instruction:

Those who close off the nine gates, and restrain the wandering mind,
nao dar thaakay Dhaavat rahaa-ay.

come to dwell in the Home of the Tenth Gate.
dasvai nij ghar vaasaa paa-ay.

There, the Unstruck Melody of the Shabad vibrates day and night. Through the Guru`s Teachings, the Shabad is heard.
othai anhad sabad vajeh din raatee gurmatee sabad sunaavni-aa.
SGGS 124

WaheGuru

Edited by Sat1176

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Meditation Is Not What You Think!

You want to attain a state of happiness that is free from all pains and miseries. Yet you constantly live with fears, concerns, strain, and struggle. Why? Because you do not live in the moment, you are not fully present and aware. Your inner and outer conflicts prevent you from dealing with the situations that come before you and living in harmony with those who are close to you. These conflicts keep you from accomplishing the tasks that you have placed before yourself.

Meditation is not what you think, for it is beyond thinking.

Meditation is a definite process for resolving conflicts. It is the simple and exact process of becoming aware of who you are. It is learning to know yourself as you really are. Meditation is a practice of gently freeing yourself from the worries that gnaw at you, so that you can be free and respond to the needs of the moment, and experience the joy of being fully present. Meditation is not what you think, for it is beyond thinking. You do not meditate on your problems in order to solve them, but through meditation you see through the problems you have set up for yourself.

The World Within
Meditation is a practical means for calming yourself, for letting go of your biases and seeing what is, openly and clearly. It is a way of training the mind so that you are not distracted and caught up in its endless churning. Meditation teaches you to systematically explore your inner dimensions. It is a system of commitment, not commandment. You are committing to yourself, to your path, and to the goal of knowing yourself.

Meditation is not a ritual belonging to any particular religion, culture, or group. It is a method of knowing the one reality from which all religions spring. For example, the Bible clearly says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Learning how to be still is the method of meditation. And if you meditate regularly you will find that you have become more calm, yet alert to what is needed in the present moment.

Most people associate calmness with passivity, but the peace that meditation brings releases energy. Worry and preoccupation dissipate your strength. Meditation frees the energy that has been bound in your mental discord so that you can apply yourself one-pointedly to whatever you decide to do. Meditation will lead your mind to become more concentrated, so that you can fully focus on whatever you choose. Because of this, those who meditate will learn almost anything more easily and more quickly.

From childhood onward, you are taught to examine and understand things in the external world, but nobody teaches you to look within and understand the mind and its various states. All of your training has been to know the outer world, and to become skillful at manipulating the external world for your own benefit. But unless you learn to know yourself, whatever you do in the external world will not produce the results you want. If a tire is out of balance, no matter how wonderfully it was designed in other respects, it will not function properly. Unless you achieve inner balance, no matter how much you know about performing in the outer world, you will fall short of your goals. Meditation is the means of achieving this inner balance.

Those who have examined the objects of the external world understand their transitory nature and know that life has more to give. Then they start searching within themselves and conducting “inner research.” Meditation is a systematic technique of inner research. It is like a ladder with many rungs which finally leads to the roof, and from there one can see the vast horizon all around.

Meditation will lead you to a state of inner joy. You think that pleasure comes from your contact with the objects of the world, but there is an inner and finer joy that you have not yet tasted. Those who have been researchers in the external world, who have examined its pleasures and joys, discover that the highest of all joys is meditation, and this joy leads to that eternal joy called samadhi. Such great ones like to keep their eyes partially closed, looking into the innermost light that shines within this frame of life.

Meditation will give you a tranquil mind. Meditation will make you aware of the reality deep within. Meditation will make you fearless; meditation will make you calm; meditation will make you gentle; meditation will make you loving; meditation will give you freedom from fear; meditation will lead you to the state of inner joy. If you understand these goals and want to meditate, then it will help you, but if you are expecting to become rich through meditation, then don’t do it.

Full Attention
Meditation is not a difficult task that you must force upon yourself; once you experience that inner joy you will spontaneously want to meditate as much as you now look forward to outer pleasures. Nevertheless, it is very helpful to establish a routine to your meditative practice. Just as you eat at certain times of the day, and look forward to eating as those times approach, so too, by developing the habit of meditating at the same time each day your whole being—your body, breath, and mind—will look forward to meditating at that time. You should sit down every day at exactly the same time. Establish a specific time for your practice and do your practice every day at that time.

The first thing you have to learn is to be still.

The first thing you have to learn is to be still. This process begins with physical stillness. According to the tradition that we follow, the asana, or meditative posture, is carefully selected according to your nature and capacity, and you are guided by a competent teacher to keep your head, neck, and trunk straight. After choosing a sitting posture, good students learn to become accomplished in it.

After accomplishing stillness with the help of the meditative posture, you will become aware of obstacles arising from muscle twitching, tremors occurring in various parts of the body, shaking, and itching. These obstacles arise because the body has never been trained to be still. We are trained to move in the external world faster and faster, but nobody trains us to remain still. To learn this stillness, you should form a regular habit, and to form this habit you should learn to be regular and punctual, practicing the same posture at the same time and at the same place every day until the body stops rebelling against the discipline given to it. This step, though basic, is important and should not be ignored. Otherwise, you will not be able to reap the fruits of meditation and your efforts will be wasted.

You should find a simple, uncluttered, quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Sit on the floor with a cushion under you or in a firm chair, with your back straight and your eyes closed. Then bring your awareness slowly down through your body, allowing all of the muscles to relax except those that are supporting your head, neck, and back. Take your time and enjoy the process of letting go of the tension in your body. Meditation is the art and science of letting go, and this letting go begins with the body and then progresses to thoughts.

Once the body is relaxed and at peace, bring your awareness to your breath. Notice which part of your lungs are being exercised as you breathe. If you are breathing primarily with your chest you will not be able to relax. Let your breathing come primarily through the movement of the diaphragm. Continue to observe your breath without trying to control it. At first the breath may be irregular, but gradually it will become smooth and even, without pauses and jerks.

Meditation is a process of giving your full attention to whatever object you have chosen. In this case you are choosing to be aware of the breath. Allow yourself to experience your breathing in an open and accepting way. Do not judge or attempt to control or change it. Open yourself so fully that eventually there is no distinction between you and the breathing. In this process many thoughts will arise in your mind: “Am I doing this right? When will this be over? My nostril is clogged—should I get up and blow my nose before I continue? Perhaps I should have closed the window. I forgot to make an important call. My neck hurts.” Hundreds of thoughts may come before you and each thought will call forth some further response: a judgment, an action, an interest in pursuing the thought further, an attempt to get rid of the thought.

At this point, if you simply remain aware of this process instead of reacting to the thought, you will become aware of how restless your mind is. It tosses and turns like you do on a night when you cannot fall asleep. But that is only a problem when you identify with the mind and react to the various thoughts it throws at you. If you do, you will be caught in a never-ending whirlwind of restless activity. But if you simply attend to those thoughts when they arise, without reacting, or if you react and attend to the reaction, then they cannot really disturb you. Remember—it is not the thoughts that disturb you, but your reaction to them. It is not a sound that disturbs your meditation, but your reaction to it.

Meditation is very simple. It is simply attending. You can begin by attending to your breath, and then if a thought comes, attend to it, notice it, be open to it—and it will pass. Then you can come back to the breath. Your normal response is to react to all your thoughts, and this keeps you ever busy in a sea of confusion. Meditation teaches you to attend to what is taking place within without reacting, and this makes all the difference. It brings you freedom from the mind and its meandering. And in this freedom you begin to experience who you are, distinct from your mental turmoil. You experience inner joy and contentment, you experience relief and inner relaxation, and you find a respite from the tumult of your life. You have given yourself an inner vacation.

The Foundation for Peace
This inner vacation is not a retreat from the world but the foundation for finding inner peace. You must also learn to apply the principle of attending in your worldly activities so that you can apply yourself in the world more effectively. Through practicing meditation you can learn to be open to what comes before you in the world and give it your full attention.

Ordinarily, you react to the experiences that come before you in the world in much the same way that you react to your thoughts. If someone says something negative to you, you become upset or depressed. If you lose something, you react emotionally. Your mood depends on what comes before you and, as a result, your life is like a roller coaster ride. You react before you have fully experienced what you are reacting to; what you see or hear immediately pushes a button. You interpret that according to your expectations, fears, prejudices, or resistances. You short-circuit the experience, and thus you limit yourself to one or two conditioned responses. You give up your ability to respond to a situation openly and creatively.

But if you apply the principle of meditation to experiences that come before you, you can fully attend to what is taking place. You can attend to your initial reaction without reacting to your reaction: “Oh, look at how threatened I feel by that.” You need not deny your reaction. Let yourself be open to experiencing it and it will move through you and allow other spontaneous responses to also come forward, so that you can select the one that is most helpful in that particular situation.

In this way meditation is very therapeutic. It not only leads to inner balance and stability, it also exposes your inner complexes, your immaturities, your unproductive reflexes and habits. Instead of living in these and acting them out, they are brought to your awareness and you can give them your full attention. Only then will they be cleared.

Patient Practice
Competent teachers instruct students in how to be free from external influences and how to follow the primary steps, so that the body, senses, and mind are prepared for meditative experiences. If the preliminaries are ignored, then students may waste years and years hallucinating and fantasizing, simply feeding their egos and not attaining any deeper experiences.

But there is one serious problem. Modern students are like children who plant seeds in the evening and early the next morning wake up and start digging up the seeds to see what has happened. Of course, nothing has happened; the seeds are still there so the child covers them up again and pours water on them. Then, in the afternoon, the child wants to examine the seeds again. Let the seeds of your practice grow; give your practice some time to develop.

It takes time to see results; be gentle with yourself.

Have patience and do your practice systematically. Every action has a reaction. It is not possible for you to do meditation and not receive benefits. You may not notice those benefits now, but slowly and gradually you are storing the samskaras (impressions) in the unconscious mind that will help you later. If you sow a seed today, you don’t reap the fruit tomorrow, but eventually you will. It takes time to see results; be gentle with yourself.

Meditation means gently fathoming all the levels of yourself, one level after another. Be honest with yourself. Don’t care what others say about their experiences—keep your mind focused on your goal. It is your own mind that does not allow you to meditate, and your untrained mind is like a garbage disposal. To work with your mind, you’ll have to be patient, you’ll have to work gradually with yourself.

I sometimes hear students say, “I have not attained anything; I have been doing meditation for thirteen years!” Are you sure that you have been doing meditation? Or did you sit and sleep or dream or think? For thirteen years you have been thinking about many other things in the name of meditation; you think about your work and your boyfriend or girlfriend. You sat for all those years in meditation but you did not really meditate, and then you complain that nothing has happened to you. Do not give your mind space to wander when you meditate, but go step by step in the process. Train yourself. First, pay attention to your posture. Learn to sit correctly. Do your practice systematically. Then work to eliminate the mental and emotional obstacles.

If meditators probe the inner levels of their being, exploring the unknown dimensions of interior life, and if they have learned a systematic and scientific method that can lead them to the next state of experience, then they can go beyond all the levels of their unconscious mind and establish themselves in their essential nature.

Soundless Sound
During deep meditation, the ancient sages heard certain sounds called mantras. In the Bible, it is said that those who have an ear to hear will hear. When the mind becomes attuned, it is capable of hearing the voice of the unknown. The sounds that are heard in such a state do not belong to any particular language, religion, or tradition. According to our tradition, which is a meditative tradition more than five thousand years old, mantra and meditation are inseparable, like the two sides of a coin.

All the existing spiritual traditions of the world use a syllable, a sound, a word or set of words, called a mantra, as a bridge for crossing the mire of delusion and reaching the other shore of life. Mantra setu is that practice which helps the meditator make the mind one-pointed and inward, and then finally leads to the center of consciousness, the deep recesses of eternal silence where peace, happiness, and bliss reside.

There are sounds that are created by the external world and heard by the ears, and sounds heard in deep meditation. The latter is called anahata nada, the unstruck sound. Inner sounds, which are heard in deep meditation by the sages, do not vibrate in exactly the same way as sound vibrates in the external world. They have a leading quality. They lead the meditator toward the center of silence within. The following simile can help in understanding this: Imagine that you are standing on the bank of a river and you hear the current as it flows. If you follow the river upstream, you will come to its origin. There, you will find that there is no sound. In the same way, a mantra leads the mind to the silence within. That state is called “soundless sound.”

The mantra imparted by a teacher to a student is like a prescription given to a patient. There are innumerable sounds, each with a different effect. The teacher must understand which best suits a particular student, according to his or her attitudes, emotions, desires, and habits.

A mantra has four bodies or koshas (sheaths). First, as a word, it has a meaning; another more subtle form is its feeling; still more subtle is a presence, a deep intense and constant awareness of it; and the fourth or most subtle level of the mantra is soundless sound.

Many students continue repeating or muttering their mantra throughout their entire life, but never attain a state of ajapa japa—that state of constant awareness without any effort. These students strengthen their awareness, but meditate on the gross level only.

Those who go beyond this stage use special mantras that do not obstruct and disturb the flow of breath, but help regulate the breath and lead to a state in which the breath flows through both nostrils equally. In this state the breath and mind function in complete harmony and create a joyous state of mind. When students attain this state, the mind is voluntarily disconnected from the dissipation of the senses. Then they have to deal with the thoughts coming forward from the unconscious mind, that vast reservoir in which we have stored all the impressions of our lifetime. The mantra helps one to go beyond this process, creating a new groove in the mind, and the mind then begins to spontaneously flow into the groove created by the mantra. Finally, when the mind becomes concentrated, one-pointed, and inward, it peers into the latent part of the unconscious, and there, sooner or later, it finds a glittering light. Mantra is the means. Meditation is the method.

In my own practice I sit down and observe my whole being listening to the mantra. I do not remember the mantra or repeat the mantra mentally. Instead I make my whole being an ear to hear the mantra, and the mantra is coming from everywhere. This will not happen to you immediately in meditation, but when you have attained or accomplished something, it will. Then, even if you do not want to do your mantra, it is not possible to avoid it. Even if you decide that you do not want to remember the mantra, it will not be possible. Finally, even the mantra does not exist; only the purpose for which you repeat the mantra is there; you are there. The mantra might still be there, but it exists as an experience that overwhelms your whole being, and is not separate from you.

The mantra might still be there, but it exists as an experience that overwhelms your whole being, and is not separate from you.
The most important role mantra plays is during the transition period that every human being will experience. A dying person’s senses do not function properly. He gradually loses the sense of sight, the tongue mumbles words that cannot be understood by others, and he is unable to express the mind’s thoughts in speech or actions. This painful and pitiable situation frightens the mind of a non-meditator. But if one remembers the mantra for a long time in such a state of loneliness, the mantra begins to lead him, and this miserable period of loneliness and agony is over. The mantra becomes his leader. Only one thought pattern is strengthened by remembering the mantra, and when it is firmly established it leads the individual to his abode of peace, happiness, and bliss.

The Art of Joyful Living
So never give up! Accept meditation as a part of your life, just as you eat, sleep, and do other things; make it your goal to have a calm mind, to have a one-pointed mind, to have a tranquil mind. Do not give that up. Meditation leaves a clear indication on your heart, which is reflected on your face. When people speak to me, I can easily tell whether or not they meditate or are even capable of meditation. Their face is the index of their heart.

You can attain the highest state of samadhi through meditation. Then you are here, yet there; you live in the world, yet above; you include all, and exclude none. When the day arrives that every man, woman, and child practices meditation, we will all attain the next step of civilization and realize the unity in all. Liberation can be attained here and now, and that experience is the ultimate goal of human life.

Edited by Sat1176

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The Science of Mantra Meditation

Those who meditate are seeking to explore their interior life, the unknown inner levels of their being, for the goal of meditation is to become aware of the center of consciousness within. In order to attain this goal, meditators need to pursue a systematic and methodical technique in order to achieve deeper and deeper levels of inner experience.

In such an approach, meditators must first quiet and balance the functioning of their physical body. Next, they must make the breath serene. And then they begin the process of making the mind tranquil. Eventually, they seek to go beyond all the levels of the conscious and even the unconscious mind and establish themselves in their essential nature.

This inward exploration is not like the way we look at the external world, when we examine the things around us. We have all been taught to explore and study the objects of this world by our parents and in schools, but the techniques we have learned will not help us to explore the inner world. For this, we must use the precise and exact science of meditation or we will merely waste our time and never attain our goal.

The practice of meditation is an exact and precise technique for fathoming all the levels of ourselves and finally experiencing the center of consciousness within.

The word “meditation” has come to be used loosely and inaccurately in the modern world. It is not daydreaming, fantasizing, or letting the mind wander and indulge itself or travel into its past grooves or habit patterns. The practice of meditation is an exact and precise technique for fathoming all the levels of ourselves and finally experiencing the center of consciousness within. It is not a part of any religion; it is a science, which means that this process follows a particular order, has definite principles, and produces results that can be verified. Meditation, or dhyana, is a one-pointed state of internal focus which is effortlessly maintained for some time.

The goal of meditation is to experience a state beyond the mind’s levels of thinking, feeling, and analyzing. To achieve this, we must create a state that is still and one-pointed so that the mind becomes silent. When the mind is silent and no longer distracts us, then meditation deepens, and finally we attain samadhi, the awareness of the highest state of consciousness.

In the ancient tradition of meditation, the science of mantra is a precise and technical process that meditators follow in order to attain their goal. Without the benefit of a mantra, it would not be possible for them to make this inner pilgrimage to the deepest level of their being. That is why mantra is described as either a raft or a bridge on which meditators cross over the river of life and eventually reach the other shore—the state of highest consciousness. Without the help of this powerful technique, our journey would be futile because we would be unable to penetrate and fathom the various levels of the mind and finally reach our goal.

The path of meditation is distinct and different from the paths of prayer and contemplation. In prayer, seekers establish a dialogue with the Divine Force and thereby purify the way of the soul. In contemplation, seekers use the conscious mind to examine and consider some principle or concept such as peace, truth, or happiness. Then they allow their minds to assimilate this principle by considering how they can apply it to daily life. Serious students can use all three techniques. There is no conflict between these paths; they are simply different processes.

In meditation, the goal is to go beyond the mind and experience our essential nature—which is described as peace, happiness, and bliss. But as anyone who has tried to meditate has experienced, the mind itself is the biggest obstacle standing between ourselves and this awareness. This is why using a mantra becomes so important. Without its assistance, students can meditate sincerely and faithfully without fully experiencing its benefits or even making much progress despite their efforts. The mind is undisciplined and unruly, and it resists any attempts to discipline it or to guide it on a particular path. Thus, many sit for meditation and experience only fantasies, daydreams, or hallucinations. They never attain the stillness that distinguishes the genuine experience of deep meditation.

From Silence to Silence
A mantra is a word, phrase, sound, or set of words that seekers use, according to precise guidelines, when they practice meditation.

A mantra is a word, phrase, sound, or set of words that seekers use, according to precise guidelines, when they practice meditation. This science is both subtle and profound. It leads to a state in which the meditator allows the mantra to repeat itself internally in the deepest and most subtle way possible. The goal is to give the mind an internal focus, or point of concentration, so that it does not continue its normal, scattered pattern of mental activity. If followed properly, this technique allows the mind to quiet itself and become still.

In the ancient tradition of meditation, it was said that mantra and meditation are like two sides of the same coin. Certainly there are some techniques that do not use mantra as a way of deepening the meditative state, but these are generally limited to breath awareness—and such techniques can take students only so far. They cannot help them to attain the highest state. But when students meditate on a particular mantra and make a conscious effort to focus the mind on that mantra, this finally leads the mind to silence. All sounds proceed from silence; the mantra leads the student back to that silence which is called samadhi, nirvana, or the state of tranquility. Thus, among all the methods of meditation, mantra is the most profound and advanced.

Students often wonder whether any word or sound can be a mantra, and if they can select a mantra for themselves from a book or by using a word or phrase to which they are attracted, such as the words “peace” or “love.” Actually, the authentic mantras were not invented or developed by any person; they are sounds that were received and experienced by the great sages in states of deep meditation. They are not part of any particular language or religion; they are profound, precise sounds that are eternal and universal. When the sages came back from their deep states of meditation, they conveyed the sounds they had received to those students who were prepared to hear them, and it is these revealed mantras that helped the aspirants to attain the highest levels of deep meditation.

The power and significance of a mantra does not result from its literal meaning, but from the power of its subtle vibrations.

The power and significance of a mantra does not result from its literal meaning, but from the power of its subtle vibrations. (It is actually the subtle vibrations of the mantras that have the power to encourage and facilitate deeper experiences of consciousness.) But this process cannot be explained or really understood until it is experienced personally at some level. For modern students, this is probably the aspect of the science of mantra and meditation that is most difficult to comprehend.

Unfortunately, in the modern world we have become dependent on knowing and experiencing things only through the analytical aspects of the conscious mind. But the conscious mind learns through the external senses alone and thus thinks and “knows” in a very limited and superficial way. This is why modern students often assume that the power of their mantra is due to its literal meaning, and they sometimes maintain their sensitivity to the mantra on this level alone.

But actually, there are four levels, or koshas, of a mantra. Its literal meaning is only the most primary and external level at which it can be perceived. The feeling of the mantra is the next, more subtle level; it is followed by its deep presence, or internal awareness. Finally, and most profoundly, the mantra is experienced as soundless sound. The goal of the meditator is to let the mantra deepen to this level. And that is why a personal mantra is not uttered aloud or chanted.

Soundless Sound
No person “gives” another a mantra, but a mantra may be imparted on behalf of a larger spiritual tradition by an experienced and competent teacher to a sincere student who is prepared to receive it. This process is never a part of any business or economic transaction between the student and the teacher, and if the teacher is authentic, there is no taint of personal gain, ego, or selfishness in it. Receiving a mantra is only one part of a special and unique relationship between teacher and student. It exists wholly on a spiritual level. Unlike the other relationships we experience in our lives, it has no mundane, personal purpose. Those who study texts and scriptures can certainly find mantras listed in books, but only an authentic and appropriate mantra, given to a prepared student by a qualified teacher, can help that student attain the goal that he or she is seeking. In many ways, the role of the teacher who imparts a mantra is much like the role of a physician who knows a patient’s diagnosis and the appropriate medication for that condition. But even though a mantra may be authentic, if it is given to a student for whom it is not appropriate, it may be of no benefit, or may even cause problems for the student. Thus, those who are serious and sincere in their desire to meditate are advised not to experiment with practices found in books. They should prepare themselves to receive such a teaching by working to purify their body, senses, and mind through preliminary practices.

Eventually, it is said, sincere students will find a qualified teacher who has practiced and experienced what is being taught. The superficial teachers so common in the modern world do a disservice to the tradition of meditation by disillusioning many students and making them wonder if there is any authentic living tradition. Qualified teachers still exist; if students have a strong desire to progress, they will eventually find what they are seeking.

To be beneficial, a mantra must be appropriate to the student’s level of attainment, personality, desires, and attitudes, and when it is imparted it must be used in a precise and specific way. Mantras are not spoken or muttered on the gross physical level, with the mouth, tongue, and voice box. Instead, they are first heard mentally and then allowed to become increasingly subtle and fine. The goal is to eventually achieve a state of constant, effortless awareness called ajapa japa.

There are two types of sounds: those which are created by the external world and heard by the ears, and those inner sounds which are called anahata nada, unstruck sounds. These do not vibrate in quite the same way that sound vibrates in the external world, and they have a guiding or leading quality which carries the meditator to the center of silence within.

Mantras that are used in meditation do not obstruct or interfere with the flow of the breath; instead they help to balance and refine the breath. This leads to a unique and special state in which the sushumna nadi, or subtle channel, is active and the breath flows freely and equally through both nostrils simultaneously. This is different from the normal functioning of body, breath, and mind when either the left nadi (ida) or the right nadi (pingala) is active and the breath is dominant in one or the other of the nostrils. When students succeed in activating sushumna, and the breath flows evenly through both nostrils, breath and mind function in complete harmony. This special state is ideally suited for meditation, for when it is achieved the mind becomes completely inward in its focus.

As the mind becomes inward, it disconnects from the external senses, and then meditators will experience a flow of thoughts, impressions, and emotions coming forward from the unconscious mind. This is the storehouse of all the impressions of our lifetime, and they have created deep grooves in the unconscious mind that can be disturbing. The purpose of mantra is to help us to go beyond these grooves and create new, beneficial channels. The mind then begins to flow spontaneously in the new grooves created by the mantra and becomes concentrated, one-pointed, and inward. As the mind centers on the mantra, the other impressions, memories, thoughts, and emotions of both the conscious and unconscious mind become still.

Once students have received a mantra, they should practice meditation with it for some time and bring it to increasingly subtle levels of experience. Sometimes, however, modern students become impatient after practicing the mantra for only a few weeks or months, and feel that they are making no progress because they cannot see any dramatic or immediate external changes as a result of this practice. Some conclude that their mantra is not the “right” mantra, and seek other practices. Others simply discontinue their practice, discouraged by what they see as lack of progress. This is like the impatience of small children who plant tulip bulbs in September, and then want to dig them up two days later because they have not yet seen any signs of a flower.

You should work with the mantra with full dedication and deep feeling for some time.

Patience is essential in the practice of meditation. You should work with the mantra with full dedication and deep feeling for some time. Eventually, it becomes like a loyal friend who will never abandon you and is always there to help you. That is why teachers sometimes tell their students that dependence on any external person or object will always disappoint them at some time, but seeking solace and comfort from the mantra will always be helpful—especially during those times in every human life when loneliness and doubt exist.

When you begin the practice of meditation on a mantra, you are systematically working to make the more remote levels of your own inner experience successively deeper. This process has two aspects: It refines and purifies the existing impressions of the mind, and at the same time, it cultivates and deepens the experience of the mantra. Because most people have not yet acquired much awareness of the deeper levels of themselves, it is not easy for them to observe and appreciate the changes that are taking place during this process. But as you continue to practice meditation on the mantra, the internal process that is taking place will eventually reveal itself. As it does, you will begin to know yourself as you really are.

Edited by Sat1176

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Keeping the Zzzz Out of Meditation.


Have you ever reached a quiet moment in your meditation only to find yourself falling asleep? Virtually all of us have dozed off during our practice at some point. The boundary between sleep and meditation is easy to cross—and once traversed, heads bob, spines wobble, and minds wander through personal wonderlands.

Handling the sleepiness in our heads can be a challenging task—made more difficult by the hold that sleep has over us. Sleep’s power is that it satisfies our need for genuine mental downtime. It helps us forget ourselves and leaves us refreshed. “Oh sleep! It is a gentle thing, / Beloved from pole to pole,” writes Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Nonetheless, sleep is the meditative distraction par excellence. It steals us away just as the most tranquil moments of meditation are unfolding. How do experienced meditators manage it?

Swami Rama, the meditation teacher who founded the Himalayan Institute, often reminded students that when a fool falls asleep, he wakes up a fool; but when a fool reaches the heights of meditation, he is transformed. Swami Rama’s point was that meditation is an elevation of consciousness, not a diminution of it. He wanted students to be clear that the intention of meditation is self-transformation, not sleep.

While most of us know that sleeping is not meditation, that doesn’t seem to prevent us from drifting off when the urge arises. Once triggered, the compulsion to sleep can be extraordinarily powerful. What’s more, a wide range of factors influences it. A full stomach, congested bowels, lack of movement, lack of fresh air, sleep deprivation, and periods of emotional stress all can contribute to feelings of drowsiness. Managing sleepiness, it turns out, requires our full attention.

Developing a Meditative Perspective
Meditation allows us to explore the encounter with sleep in detail. In meditation we observe the subtle shifting of consciousness. More important, according to the sage Patanjali, we gain a measure of control over it. The aspiration of every meditator is to gain mastery over the fluctuations of the mind. This is accomplished through relaxed concentration—the conscious settling of the mind in a resting place—and by gaining inner distance and detachment from the passing activities and objects of experience.

The great problem with sleepiness is that it makes it difficult or even impossible to concentrate. It is, itself, one of those objects of experience passing through the mind. Just as the mind is about to rest and focus, sleepiness slides in. It magically erases the object of concentration (most often the breath or a mantra) and replaces it first with some rather strange and dreamlike images (hypnagogic imagery) and then with a vague feeling of nothingness. Dreamless sleep doesn’t completely shut operations down, but it comes close. It immobilizes the body and involuntarily rests the senses and mind.

If we follow Patanjali’s advice, we’ll need to treat dreamless sleep as a vritti, one of the operations of the mind that must be controlled.

If we follow Patanjali’s advice, we’ll need to treat dreamless sleep as a vritti, one of the operations of the mind that must be controlled. That means recognizing the symptoms of sleep and choosing not to let them overwhelm us.

In sleep, the mind abandons all other conscious functions and dwells on the experience of nothingness. The qualities of dullness, stupor, and inertness (collectively known as tamasic qualities in Sanskrit) dominate us during sleep. As they approach, the mind perceives them and, like the memory of other pleasures, resorts to experiencing them again. For a time, the body/mind embodies tamas.

Llike other operations of the mind, sleep is a distraction during meditation. Difficult as it is, our job as meditators is to recognize and observe our sleepiness, but not to embrace it.
But like other operations of the mind, sleep is a distraction during meditation. Difficult as it is, our job as meditators is to recognize and observe our sleepiness, but not to embrace it. If we treat it like other distracting thoughts, the mind will let it go and gradually return to an alert, concentrated state. Sleepiness, like other thoughts, feelings, and sensations, is a passing wave. In meditation we are learning to ride that wave without letting it crash over us. This is the fundamental strategy for working with sleep in meditation.

Pre-Meditation Tips
The power of sleep, unfortunately, is real, and easily magnified. The commitment to step back from the brink of slumber requires the ability to recognize and manage factors that foster sleepiness. For example, if you have just eaten before sitting down to meditate you can count on at least 45 minutes of lethargy. That doesn’t mean that you can’t meditate during that time, but you won’t be anywhere near your sharpest while your energy is being funneled into digestion rather than concentration. This explains why meditation manuals advise waiting two to four hours after a full meal before meditating.

The way you select and prepare food also dramatically affects the clarity of your consciousness. Food requires heat for digestion, and if you have not supplied that heat through a cooking process, you will have to draw it from your own body. Although individual constitutions vary enormously, too much raw food, particularly high-fiber greens, raw nuts and seeds, and dried fruits with an abundance of concentrated sugars, can sap energy rather than supplying it. Fatty foods require extra time to digest as well. Inadequately cooked foods are yet another problem, as are foods that are stale, heavy, overcooked, or loaded with sugar. The outcome of overindulging in these foods will be an overwhelming sense of lethargy and a fuzzy mind.

Food is not the only factor that thickens the mantle of sleepiness. Lack of sleep is a major contributor, too. The trick is to get to bed early enough to provide adequate rest. Bedtime is generally under our control, but rising times often are not. It makes sense, then, to work on getting to bed on time, because a sleep-deprived mind will inevitably look for opportunities to catch some zzzz’s during the day. And since meditation is undoubtedly the best moment it will find, if you do not manage your bedtime you can anticipate trouble ahead when you sit.

There are many other factors that increase the urge to sleep. To manage them, we need to wring out the tamas in our systems in one way or another. That can mean purposefully getting more exercise, bringing order to the clutter that surrounds us in our meditation room, opening a window to let in some fresh air, or cutting back on stimulants, such as coffee, that rebound when their effects wear off.

The Hub of Concentration
Sleeping in meditation is a powerful sign of lethargy and fatigue. It signals that we need to watch the way we are handling our energy levels. Tamasic impulses need to be managed over the long run, and when fatigue or lethargy alerts us to an imbalance, it’s important to give it our attention.

In the end, sometimes the best way to manage sleepiness is simply to sleep. A 10-minute nap after lunch, or an occasional early bedtime, may be just what your meditation needs. It can soothe the otherwise irresistible pressure to nod off.

Finally, you can take the edge off the tamas while you meditate—not by resisting it but by cautiously approaching and accepting it. During meditation, a deep sense of stillness combined with relaxed breathing will partially satisfy your need for sleep. That doesn’t mean using meditation as a recurrent chance to doze. The key to feeling more refreshed is to make your breath the hub of concentration. Breath awareness—focused attention on the flow of the breath—makes it possible to meditate while simultaneously resting. Using breath awareness, you can deeply relax your body, nervous system, and mind.

One of the most powerful and pleasant methods for doing that is to combine the rhythms of breathing with the mantra soham (pronounced so-hum). As you feel the movements of your breathing, inhale as you mentally say the sound so, and exhale as you mentally say the sound hum. Let the sounds flow smoothly and easily in your mind, merged with the natural pace of your breathing.

Swami Rama sometimes said that like the glowing ember of a fire that is concealed by layers of ashes, a sleeper—your own being—waits within. As you recite the sounds so and hum in your mind, he said, imagine that they are ever so lightly blowing away the ashes of tamas and little by little uncovering this Spirit in you. As you continue, be patient with the urge to sleep and allow time for it to pass. Let the so-hum mantra fill you, giving your body and mind a thorough rest. Remain in the quiet center of your awareness, and, without raising your inner voice, let the presence of the mantra gradually dispel your fatigue. But if your head starts bobbing, then put “restoration of energy” at the top of your to-do list. Bedtime is fast approaching.

Edited by Sat1176

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Sometimes, however, modern students become impatient after practicing the mantra for only a few weeks or months, and feel that they are making no progress because they cannot see any dramatic or immediate external changes as a result of this practice.

story of my life .lol.

miles to go...

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Mantra for Your Mind

An ancient yogic text, the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, likens the process of reciting a mantra (mantra japa in Sanskrit) to uncovering the inner essence of something. Much like pressing sesame seeds yields sesame oil, churning milk produces butter, or digging a well exposes water, the sages say, the power of repeating a mantra reveals something deeper within each of us than what we see on the surface.

According to this Upanishad, mantra japa is akin to lighting a fire with fire sticks. When two sticks, aranis, are vigorously rubbed together, they ignite—a metaphor for inner awakening.

Making one’s body/mind the lower arani and the mantra Om the upper one, practice meditation as if you are rubbing two fire sticks together, and in the process unveil the inner Self which is hidden within you. (1.14)

Thus, says the text, reciting a mantra uncovers the experience of Being.

What Is a Mantra?

Using mantra meditation to uncover our essential being sounds great, but what exactly is a mantra? A mantra is a sound that has, as the ancient sages say, one foot in this world and one foot in a world that transcends ordinary sensory and psychological experience. The foot located in this world resides in the mind, where the mantra is first recited and then gradually internalized—like the words and melody of a favorite song. The other foot of the mantra is para, or beyond.

Mantras are not simply mysterious formulae nor are they meaningless or alien sets of sounds. Each mantra collects the energies of inner life—your motivations, aims, and desires—and elevates them to a new level. Eventually the practice of mantra leads to a fusion between the mind of the practitioner and the transcendental reality the mantra embodies.

A devotional experience as well as a conceptual one, every mantra contains an element of reverence for the Infinite. This can be found in phrases such as “we worship,” “we revere,” “we bow to,” and “we cherish” found in many mantras. Mantras also contain within them the name of the Infinite as a way of expressing one or more aspects of the Divine’s presence. As in most spiritual traditions, a variety of names embody the concept of the Infinite—Father, Mother, Lord, or Source of Healing. But in mantra japa, none of these terms is meant to externalize God or to replace a meditator’s religious affiliation. Instead, each name points to an aspect of the Indescribable as a vehicle through which a meditator can realize his or her own essential nature.

In addition to the name of the Infinite, many mantras incorporate a “seed sound,” a bija mantra, that captures in very concentrated form aspects of potential spiritual energy. These sounds are woven into mantras and add to their potency. They are, it is said, devices for linking the mind to such qualities as strength, health, peace, and happiness. With practice, these qualities emerge in the mind to guide and protect a meditator.

The Lower Stick

The first step in mantra meditation grooms the body and the mind to receive the mantra. This “lower stick” preparation comprises a series of steps, each assisting in the process of collecting and focusing mental energy.

1. Your body. Select a posture you find both comfortable and steady. Classically, only a few postures are considered appropriate for meditation, but if you’re just learning—or have any injuries—you may need to find a more comfortable alternative. You can, for example, sit against a wall or in a chair to help you relax your physical effort and focus on what is occurring in your mind.

2. Your breath. Once you rest your body, focus on your breathing. By smoothing and softening the breath, you can reduce emotional tensions. In the process, see if you can find the pace of breathing that is natural and just right for you. Then your breath can become the relaxed focus of your attention.

3. Your mind. Finally, as a prelude to engaging with a mantra, feel the breath continuously flowing in and out of your nostrils. By training your mind to rest in this single sensation, other senses relax and turn inward, helping you gather together mental energies that are otherwise easily dissipated.

Thus, by resting your body, deepening your breath, and centering your attention on the breath in the nostrils, you prepare the way for mantra meditation and establish a solid foundation—a stable lower stick—for practice.

The Upper Stick

Once the body and the mind are primed, you’re ready for the “upper stick,” the actual sound of the mantra, which will protect, nourish, and guide your mind. Because a mantra focuses attention within the mind itself, it offers a simple alternative to distracting thoughts and emotions and creates a sense of inner distance, acting as an alambana, a meditative support for the mind.

A common mantra to start with is the so’ham mantra, which is associated with the flow of the breath. To practice this mantra, recite the sound so with the inhalation and the sound ham (pronounced “hum”) with the exhalation, letting the mantra sounds flow through the entire length of the breath. These sounds magnify the cleansing and nourishing qualities of each breath and soon become a deep source of nurturance. A literal translation of so’ham is “I am who I am” or “I am That.”

Breathing and the so’ham mantra are profoundly linked in meditation, but that doesn’t mean you should alter your breathing pattern to link it to the mantra. In fact, you should maintain the natural pace of your breath when you practice; otherwise the mantra will disturb your breathing, and your nervous system will no longer remain relaxed. Preserve the natural flow of your breathing, and you will find that you can rest in the sound of the mantra far more easily.

Refining the Mantra Flow

While the so’ham mantra coordinates with your breathing pattern, most mantras do not. Mantras such as the Gayatri mantra, the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra, or any of the initiation mantras given for personal practice soon separate themselves from the breath and find their own pace, creating a strong mental focus with little awareness of body or breath. That’s when the mantra becomes the upper fire stick—repetitively rubbing against the lower stick of the body/mind.

The pace of a mantra changes with practice. It may start slowly, gradually increase in speed until it seems to flow effortlessly, and finally pulse so quickly that you are no longer articulating the sounds of the mantra clearly. This change in pace is one of the ways in which a mantra “leads.” When the sound of the mantra flows smoothly in the mind, the process is termed japa, mental repetition. When it begins to flow even more rapidly as a kind of effortless pulsing, it is known ajapa-japa.

For all mantras—with the exception of the so’ham mantra—using a mala (a string of beads) is a useful adjunct to practice. A mala serves two primary purposes—it measures your practice (one mala marks 100 repetitions) and it helps maintain the focus of your attention. When your mind wanders, your fingers on the mala serve as a gentle reminder to return to your inner focus.

An Essence Emerges

Parroting a mantra is not the goal of mantra practice. While the pace of your mantra recitation may vary from slow to fast, remember to do it with full attention. The key element of practice is to let your mind rest in the sound of the mantra. When you meditate, use the early stages of practice to relax and anchor your body and breath. Then refine your focus, let the sound of the mantra arise, and rest in it.

It is true that a mantra confines the mind—that is part of the discipline of meditation. By centering your mind in a mantra and allowing the mantra sound to fill the space of your mind, you can set other thoughts and mental processes aside and stabilize your attention. Although the journey is gradual, you will sense that little by little the effort to confine the mind in this way actually produces quite the opposite effect.

During periods of mantra japa, despite the fact that the mind remains occupied by the repetitive sound of the mantra, a deep inner silence is awakened. You will begin to sense that you are, in essence, something more than your mind’s activities, something more than your mind. You are a silent witness, an enduring presence, and a fountainhead of joy. At that point, your mantra will be more than a simple resting place for your mind. It will provide the strength to support you over the winding meditative journey ahead.

Edited by Sat1176

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Good Q&A

Q. I have read that it is best to receive a personal mantra from a teacher rather than choosing one for oneself. Is this true?

A. Receiving a personal mantra from a teacher simply means receiving direct guidance from that teacher. It saves you time and it keeps you free from doubts regarding the validity of the mantra. But if you have some doubt about the teacher, then receiving a mantra from that teacher is worse than choosing one from a book.

Most seekers have very little knowledge of mantras. All they know is that a mantra is a potent sacred sound and that it has the power to guide the mind inward. With this much knowledge, people decide to find a mantra. In my interactions with students, I have learned that a large number of such seekers are not very sure about what they believe about mantra. They come to me for a mantra. I give them the one I think best, then they verify that mantra by reading books, surfing the Web, or talking to other teachers. Then they come back to me to share their discoveries: “I’m confused,” they say. “I met a teacher from India who told me I should practice some other mantra and I don’t know who I should listen to,” or “The meaning you told me for my mantra is not the same as the meaning I found in a dictionary,” or “I came across a mantra that I really like. Can I practice with that one instead of with the one you gave me?” In such situations, I hear quite clearly what that person is really asking—he’s asking, “Can I trust you?”

What that student doesn’t understand is that he doesn’t have trust in his own knowledge. His discovery regarding mantras and the teacher is still demanding verification. The vacuum can be filled only by gaining a deeper understanding of the dynamics of mantra, the illuminating energy it contains, its source, the process of transmission, the prerequisites for receiving and retaining a mantra, and the proper method of imbibing it. For every science there is a definite course curriculum and methodology for studying it. And the study of every science demands perseverance, patience, and discipline. But in relation to mantra science and its practice, we don’t feel that sustained perseverance or discipline is really necessary.

So it is necessary that you receive a mantra from a competent, honest, and disciplined teacher. A true teacher will ensure that you cultivate perseverance and discipline, for without it the mere practice of mantra will not bear the desired fruit. If you don’t believe in the value of perseverance and self-discipline, then choose a mantra from a book or simply log on to the Internet.

Q. But what if an authentic teacher is not available?

A. Don’t worry about finding an authentic teacher. Start with anybody who seems to be honest and sensitive. Your own desire to learn more about yourself, and the mantra’s role in this exploration, will help you discover the next level of teacher. Practice is the key to your personal growth. Prepare yourself, and you will always find what you need. Without that preparation, even if you happen to meet an advanced master, the two of you will not be able to communicate. Despite your best efforts you could not convince a university professor to come and teach you graduate-level courses when your mind is ready only to learn through the poems of Dr. Seuss. And even if you did, either he would have to come down to your level and teach only that which you can comprehend, or he would have to wait until you grow much nearer to his level so you can study with him the subject he is so well qualified to teach. Your own growth will guide you to the right kind of institutions, traditions, teachers, and adepts.

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Sushumna Awakening

According to the yogic scriptures, there are 72,000 nadis, or energy channels. Among them, ida, pingala, and sushumna are the most important. As long as the mind is outward, only ida and pingala remain active. But when the mind is calm and tranquil, sushumna, the central channel, is awakened. The joy derived from the mind traveling through the sushumna channel is unique; it cannot be compared with any sensory pleasure. Because of that inner joy, the mind loses its taste for worldly pleasures.

Sushumna application is the most important factor in spiritual practice. The moment sushumna is awakened, the mind longs to enter the inner world. When the flow of ida and pingala is di¬rected toward sushumna, and distractions are thereby removed, meditation flows by itself.

According to our school of meditation breath awareness is an important step for the awakening of sushumna. Although the word sushumna cannot be adequately translated into English, it signifies the state of an undisturbed and joyous mind. When the breath starts flowing freely and smoothly through both nostrils, the mind attains this state of joy and calmness. Such a mental condition is necessary for the mind to travel into deeper levels of consciousness, for if the mind is not brought to a state of joy it cannot remain steady, and an unsteady mind is not fit for meditation. The process of awakening the sushumna is possible only when a student starts enjoying being still by keeping the head, neck, and trunk straight. This means that the student does not allow any uneasiness to occur in the three cords along the spinal column—the central, sympathetic, and para¬sym¬pa¬thetic ganglionated cords.

The sushumna nadi is centrally located and travels along the spinal canal. At the level of the larynx it divides into an anterior portion and a posterior portion, both of which terminate in the brahmarandra, or cavity of Brahma, which corresponds to the ventricular cavity in the physical body. The ida and pingala nadis also travel upwards along the spinal column, but they crisscross each other and the sushumna before terminating in the left and right nostrils, respectively. The junctions of ida, pingala, and sushumna along the spinal column are called chakras, or wheels, and just as the spokes of a wheel radiate outward from the central hub, so do the other nadis radiate outward from the chakras to other parts of the body. In other words, the chakras are junctions of other nadis with the three main nadis: sushumna, ida and pingala.

Ida and pingala, situated on each side of the spinal column, are joined at a point opposite the forehead, between the eyebrows at the ajna chakra, where one finds a small but significant ganglion called the ganglion of Ribes. Ida goes around this ganglion to the right and terminates in the left nostril. Pingala goes around it on the left side and ends in the right nostril. In passing along the posterior side of the spinal cord, these two channels change their positions several times, alternating left and right, and meet again below at the ganglion impar located in front of the coccyx which corresponds to the muladhara chakra. These channels communicate repeatedly with sushumna throughout its course.

There are only two or three techniques for applying sushumna:

1) concentrating on the bridge between the two nostrils,

2) doing pranayama breathing practices and applying jalandhara bandha (the chin lock) and

3) meditating on the chakra system.

Breathing practices to awaken sushumna may include nadi shodhanam and kumbhaka.

Also, use of mantra helps to awaken sushumna.

It should be understood that sushumna application is the only methodical way of preventing the dissipation of the mind. When sushumna flows, the occasion is unsuitable for external actions, and only meditation and contemplation should be done. When the breath is in sushumna, intuitive knowledge is received well.

The application of sushumna is very important: without it, deep meditation is not possible, and without deep meditation, samadhi cannot be accomplished. To apply sushumna, the accomplished yogis concentrate on the bridge between the two nostrils above the lip and allow both nostrils to flow freely. Such advanced yogis do not use any external pressures on any part of the body to change the flow of breath. The aspirant who has learned the correct method of meditation and who has control over the wandering of his mind can easily apply sushumna willfully through concentration on the flow of breath, and can attain the deepest state of meditation—samadhi. At this stage, such aspirants no longer need to use the fingers. The knowledge of turiya is easily accessible by applying sushumna. Sushumna application and the awakening of kundalini are two main aims of yoga science. Without knowing the method of awakening sushumna the joy of meditation cannot be experienced. Pranayama is important in gaining control over the mind, and the application of sushumna is important for deepening meditation.

The first step in sushumna application is learning to change the flow of breath with your mental ability, according to your wish and desire. There are many mechanical methods described in books by which you can do this, but they are not actually helpful; they are not really recommended. To really accomplish this process, you must learn to create a relaxed focus on the right or left nostril. If the nostril is blocked, but not due to some condition like sinusitis, then when the mind focuses on it, that nostril will become active because of the focus of the mind. When you have learned to change the flow of the nostrils with your mind, then after some time, a time comes when both nostrils begin flowing evenly. This may take some months or perhaps a year, depending on your capacity and the burning desire within you. When the nostrils flow evenly, the mind cannot worry, because it is disconnected from the senses. Mind does not know how to worry then. It attains a state of joy called sukhamana, the joyous mind. That state of mind is conducive to deep meditation. This is an accurate and effective procedure for you to follow, and it is important not to rush or be impatient.

To begin the process of sushumna awakening, the meditator is prepared to focus the mind on the breath as it is felt between the two nostrils. The goal is to focus awareness on the flow of the breath, where it can be perceived at the nostrils on inhalation and exhalation. When you focus the mind on the center between the nostrils, you will soon discover that both nostrils are flowing freely.

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When both nostrils flow freely, that is called sandhya, the wedding of the sun and the moon, or between pingala and ida. Once this experience can be maintained for five minutes, the student has crossed a great barrier, and the mind has attained some one-pointedness. Then the mind becomes focused inward.

For meditation, the finest of all breathing exercises is sushumna application. When you learn how to apply sushumna, there is no way for your mind to go anywhere but into the inner journey. According to the ancient yoga manuals and the science of yoga, there are three important points in the inward journey. The cream of the yoga science is to learn first to apply sushumna; next to awaken kundalini and lead her to the highest dimension; and then to attain the knowledge of the Absolute. This is the entire purpose of the yoga system.

Application of sushumna and awakening of kundalini are the two most important aspects of yogic practice before union between jiva and Shiva is accomplished. When sushumna is applied, the yogi feels a sensation of fire going to the brain as if a hot current of air is being blown through a tube from its lower end to its upper end. With the force of pranic energy, the muladhara and swadisthana chakras vibrate, and the primal force is fully awakened.

When the students of meditation learn to apply sushumna, then they really start practicing meditation, and meditation becomes a joyful experience. The student can notice when his breath starts flowing freely through both nostrils, and this symptom is an indication of sushumna awakening. In samaya, which is the highest of all yoga paths and tantra, sushumna awakening after bhuta shuddhi (internal and external purification) is the first requisite. Then kundalini is awakened, and in the third step it is led to sahasrara and not allowed to flow again to the lower levels of consciousness.

The science of breath actually ends with sushumna application. It is the method by which you establish harmony between the two aspects of breath. During that time, both nostrils flow freely. Without sushumna application, meditation, the inward journey, becomes difficult, so you should learn the method of sushumna application. When you attempt sushumna application, ask your mind to focus at the nose bridge. Let your thoughts come and do not be afraid. You are trying to discipline your conscious mind, which is only a small part of the whole mind.

In the Kathopanishad, the King of Death says, “There are innumerable nerves and veins in the physical system, and among them the most important is that which goes upward through the spine. That one is called sushumna. It travels through the spinal column and leads to the highest heaven as conceived by the yogis. One who can enter sushumna at the time of death can attain Brahman, the highest goal of life. All other paths are paths of rebirth. From sushumna, the yogi ultimately reaches the highest consciousness of the Supreme Lord. By yogic practice, the yogi can commune with Parama Shiva, seated on the sacred throne of the thousand-petalled-lotus. Sushumna is the key point of liberation. From the sahasrara or crown chakra, he rises finally to the realm of the absolute Brahman.”

Edited by Sat1176

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Good stuff !

You guys should try and check your airflow before, during and after simran.

See if you notice if it becomes easier and better doing simran when airflow is central ?

I'm a firm believer in this and have always noticed an imbalance at times when I have difficulty getting into simran.

I also believe that this balance is a prerequisite if you want to get to ajapa jap and rom rom.

In yoga classes, I have also learned that when having difficulty in trying to use mind for stabilizing sukhmana, then start off by doing root chakra(moolldhara) activations and moving upwards.

Edited by Lucky

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I've been trying diaphragm breathing over the last few days. It takes quite a bit getting used to but once you do get the hang of it does feel much more smoother and more relaxing. You also have much more control and can try and slow the breathing right down, But it is taking my dhyaan away from the Gurmantar as I try and continue to breath like this.

Sushsumna breathing is much more difficult to achieve. My root of the nose feels very cold if I do get it going, as if that area is beginning to freeze up there. But not sure if I'm loosing connection to my senses as described. Maybe I'm not going deep enough or it's not exactly 50/50 yet.

Edited by Sat1176

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Just to clarify for those reading this thread and what gurbani says about this stuff. Here are some quotes.

Ang 327

Such is the spiritual wisdom which the Lord has imparted.

aisaa gi-aan kathai banvaaree.

O mind, hold your breath steady within the central channel of the Sushmanaa. Pause
man ray pavan darirh sukhman naaree. rahaa-o.

Adopt such a Guru (Shabad Guru Surat Dhun Chella), that you shall not have to adopt another again.
so gur karahu je bahur na karnaa.

Dwell in such a state, that you shall never have to dwell in any other.

so pad ravhu je bahur na ravnaa.

Embrace such a meditation, that you shall never have to embrace any other.
so Dhi-aan Dharahu je bahur na Dharnaa.

Die in such a way, that you shall never have to die again.

aisay marahu je bahur na marnaa.

Turn your breath away from the left channel, and away from the right channel, and unite them in the central channel of the Sushmanaa.

ultee gangaa jamun milaava-o.

At their confluence within your mind, take your bath there without water. (Trikuti)

bin jal sangam man meh nHaava-o.

Ang 969

I have made the fourteen worlds the furnace, and I have burnt my body with the fire of God.

bhavan chatur das bhaathee keenHee barahm agan tan jaaree ray.

My mudra - my hand-gesture, is the pipe; tuning into the celestial sound current within, the Shushmanaa - the central spinal channel, is my cooling pad.

mudraa madak sahj Dhun laagee sukhman pochanhaaree ray.

Make spiritual wisdom the molasses, meditation the flowers, and the Fear of God the fire enshrined in your mind.

gurh kar gi-aan Dhi-aan kar mahoo-aa bha-o bhaathee man Dhaaraa.

The Shushmanaa, the central spinal channel, is intuitively balanced, and the drinker drinks in this wine.

sukhman naaree sahj samaanee peevai peevanhaaraa.

Edited by Sat1176

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The ultimate purpose of japa is to go into supreme silence. One first absorbs the articulate level of speech (vaikhari) into the mental level (madhyama). Then one silences even that and enters the realm of pashyanti, the vibration of revelation, such that oneself may become the channel for revelation. From there one goes into the supreme absorption in the para, the transcendent, which is knowledge as it exists in the Divine Principle. A preceptor trained in the Himalayan tradition leads the students into further and further refinements through nine major stages of mantra practice as taught in the tantric systems.

Some of the variations of japa practice are as follows:
(a) Practising the mantra with the awareness of the breath flow.

( B) Practising the mantra while performing daily tasks such as cooking or reading or writing.

© Listening to ones mantra in the mind or in the anahata chakra.

(d) Practising the mantra with the sumeru breathing.

(e) Merging the mantra into the dot of the bija of a given chakra, and then observing it emerge from there again.

(f) Taking the mantra into the minds chamber of silence, and observing it emerge again from that silence.

(g) Merging the mantra into the interior sound in the Cave of the Bees, bhramara guha, again experiencing its re-emergence.

(h) Using the mantra in the mental worship in the interior temples (manasa-puja).

(i) Contemplating the meaning of ones mantra, and unifying that contemplation with
(i) manana, or the Vedantic contemplation of the maha-vakyas, and
(ii) internal dialogue, a special process of self-purification.

(j) Using the mantra as a bhakti experience, of devotion and silent prayer, thus merging the path of bhakti-yoga, japa-yoga and dhyana-yoga.

There are many other methods of using the mantra which need to be taught by an experienced preceptor who not only teaches the method but also leads the disciples mind and energies through his own power, that is, he initiates him into the practice.

Edited by Sat1176

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Dhyana

Dhyana or meditation proper. All the methods described above are integral parts of the approach to meditation, but meditation proper begins at the level of manomaya kosha. One may enter that kosha in many ways, such as through:

(a) refining the art of japa,

(B) subtler steps in breath awareness,

© concentrations,

(d) initiation, or

(e) in the case of a more advanced disciple a guru may simply pull the disciples mind into a higher degree of meditation. How high one may go through such a conferring of grace depends on the degree of the preceptors own advancement. If one has guided the student as far as one himself has reached, he passes the student on to the higher preceptor.

Edited by Sat1176

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Signs of Progress

The unbroken flow of sound created by weaving one mantra repetition into the next is a prelude to ajapa japa. With regular practice, the pace of repetitions will increase. Concentration will deepen. Repetition of the mantra will occur with an effortless momentum in your mind. The mantra will reverberate more rapidly than usual and will seem to continue in the background, even when other distractions occupy your mind. During this phase of practice the mantra whispers incessantly.

The mantra arises, stays for a time, and then moves on, much like a passing encounter with a friend on the street.

Another sign that you’re progressing toward ajapa japa is when your mantra begins to surface in your mind at unexpected times. The mantra may come to you while you are washing the dishes or driving. It happens without any real effort. The mantra arises, stays for a time, and then moves on, much like a passing encounter with a friend on the street.

Eventually, a time comes when you can hear the mantra sound whenever you like, simply by closing your eyes and relaxing. Ajapa japa becomes a deep source of peace and calmness—a center of well-being.

Dear Sanggatji

is this ajapa jap when simran of waheguru starts automatically without my awareness, that is, I am in my thoughts unrelated to simraan eg working, driving etc. It is fast simraan. Does not follow the flow of breath or others rituals. But once i focus on the simraanI will stay for short while listening then I am off to my thoughts. I feel the simraan is coming from the above my throat. Sometimes when I swallowed my saliva I realized that Simraan is ongoing and I remembered Sat1176ji mentioned previously about sweet saliva during simraan. It is not saliva but more like phlegm (coming from above the throat). Sometimes if do with mouth open (breathing through mouth) the simraan is very rapid.

note: the Simraan sometimes come at unexpected time and place eg when one is doing toileting. I have to stop the simraan as I was told it is not clean. Sometimes right after sex, very rapid.

Thus my question is, is the example above 'ajapa jap"? if it is what I am suppose to do next when the simraan start? What is next level to do. please help.

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Dear Sanggatji

my question is, is the example above 'ajapa jap"? if it is what I am suppose to do next when the simraan start?

What is next level to do. please help.

Dear gdskler,

what is there to fear about?

If He has blessed you with ajaapa jap, then stay there as much time as possible in that state.... Havent´you seen or read of rishis staying in that state for days, even months?

You see, when you stay in that state, one is like a baby in His arms. No hunger, no thirst, no pain, no sufferings, no karmas, mind or kal can interfere in those moments...what else do you want man? It is the most blissful state.

From your post I perceive, you are like a child learning to walk in spirituality.

Do not fear, with His Simran, you are holding His hand, now your next step should be to make yourself stronger in this field, so that in due time, you will not only walk or run fast, but even fly within, in the subtle spiritual planes, without you noticing it..

Once there, pray to Him sincerely, so that He may give you His Darshan, and guide you further until His Dham Sach Khand.

In my opinion, that is all you have to do, nothing more. But at the same time thank Him with your heart, for being so Dayal.

And once in His sharnagatee, through ajaapa jap, He takes care of all our affairs, whether swarthee or parmarathee.

So now you tell us, what else if anything left that you think you have got to do?

Do not attempt to do anything, that would be manmat, just leave yourself in His Mauj, and see how beautifully He makes you like Himself, that is His beant wadeeayee.

Sat Sree Akal.

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Maybe these documented instructions from Sant Baba Isher Singh will help guide you. If ajapa jaap is becoming pargat in you one would think you need to spend more and more time in this state like Harsharan has suggested. You have already stated yourself that your thoughts come back after a while. Try and merge in the jaap so you can stay in that state for longer. The more still your mind becomes the more you will give the opportunity for the naam, anhad shabad to sprout.

Hope your not hyperventilating when doing this jaap at such pace.

post-1682-0-09996000-1421997920_thumb.jp

Also read this post by Truthseeker

Edited by Sat1176

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Dear gdskler ji

If it is ajaapa jap, then you should be able to feel it in all parts of your body.

You may feel it more prominent in any of the areas from navel upwards,....but you should very easily be able to direct attention from there to any part of the body.

I may be able to give some further suggestions(based on my personal opinion only),.depending on whether you can hear naad or not, and If you could be a little more specific about whereabout in the throat area.

The next overlapping stage is for wahe-guru jap to be in rom rom.......I'm not sure if you've tried this or not.

Just continue doing his sift salaah,singing his praises all day long

Waheguru bless

Edited by Lucky

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If it is ajaapa jap, then you should be able to feel it in all parts of your body.

I hope it is ajapa jaap . As Sat article above on Sant Baba Isher jee, it did mention that ajapa japa is 'when the breath and the simraan separate'. Thus I hope it is ajapa japa

You may feel it more prominent in any of the areas from navel upwards,....but you should very easily be able to direct attention from there to any part of the body.

I may be able to give some further suggestions(based on my personal opinion only),.depending on whether you can hear naad or not, and If you could be a little more specific about whereabout in the throat area.

Lucky jee I can't pinpoint exactly. The simraan is not exactly at the throat but slightly above. If I closed my eye and see inside it seems the simraan is "floating". The simraan is soft, I do not make effort at all to repeat but it repeat itself, no stress on the syllables waheguru. it just fast and continuous like a chain. So if I direct with breathing I feel like it comedown and joint with the breath and merge but no longer fast and continuous as now "I am" controlling it. If I direct to heart , then my right palm will be place on the heart the simraan start but the heart become "heavy '. As Harsharan state above if I just follow the Simraan without doing anything you feel you are running with it and fly with it. ( Mauj )

No I have not heard naad yet.... Any sign to look for?

The next overlapping stage is for wahe-guru jap to be in rom rom.......I'm not sure if you've tried this or not.

perhaps not yet. as still can't distinguish with rom-rom and ajapa japa yet.

Just continue doing his sift salaah,singing his praises all day long

Love too but commitment to work, family, taking care oneself eg. health etc will break the bonding.

Waheguru bless

To Harsharanjee

what is there to fear about?

it is not the fear but my question was what if, it is ajapa jap, what is next to expect ( sign, etc to look for) or that I must do as the naam is repeating on its own. Do I have to "tap" it.

If He has blessed you with ajaapa jap, then stay there as much time as possible in that state.... Havent´you seen or read of rishis staying in that state for days, even months?

You see, when you stay in that state, one is like a baby in His arms. No hunger, no thirst, no pain, no sufferings, no karmas, mind or kal can interfere in those moments...what else do you want man? It is the most blissful state.

From your post I perceive, you are like a child learning to walk in spirituality.

Do not fear, with His Simran, you are holding His hand, now your next step should be to make yourself stronger in this field, so that in due time, you will not only walk or run fast, but even fly within, in the subtle spiritual planes, without you noticing it..

Once there, pray to Him sincerely, so that He may give you His Darshan, and guide you further until His Dham Sach Khand.

In my opinion, that is all you have to do, nothing more. But at the same time thank Him with your heart, for being so Dayal.

So now you tell us, what else if anything left that you think you have got to do?

Thanks for the advice especially to be in His mauj, I'll practice on it.

Sat Sree Akal.

Thank youjee for the nasihat.

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