I believe the purpose of the asanas is to open up the chakras, promote endurance, flexibility, and strength to prepare the body for long periods of meditation. I was first attracted to what I believe now is fluffy yoga that is designed more to promote presence, strength, endurance and flexibility. The Sivananda style that my instructor teaches lights up my body like a Christmas tree. I offered to explain my routine but nobody expressed interest and I don't want to spend hours doing so if nobody cares to read about it.
The Masters' teachings taught me to look inside. The physique doesn't "exist" unless so perceived. In fact, the senses are factory-built into our body-processors without which we can't know and beyond which we don't know. We have to still that which obstructs knowing - and that is sense-based perception.
I whole heartedly agree, how do we still sense-based perception?
When we talk about khechari mudra, breathlessness, kundalini force, meditative state and related things, we need to examine which are the causes and which the effects. Mudras, for example, are essentially physical but designed to calibrate subtle nadis and force-fields. Breathlessness is a state, an effect of some process that makes it redundant for sustaining life. But it is also a cause of stillness which facilitates the states of meditation and samadhi.
I completely agree.
Stillness particularly is a state but most importantly it is a perceived state. Seen differently, and this is very important, if something is perceived to be 'still', it doesn't matter if it is so, independent of perception. Trying to still the physical body is hence unnecessary. And impossible if we take to the levels of cells, molecules and electrons. It is for a reason that Patanjali mentioned "yoga is cessation of mind's movements" and not body movements.
I most likely went overboard when I took it to a microscopic level, but the slightest movements give life to the mind. I agree that our experience is what we perceive it to be, not what is actually happening. After all, everything we experience in this world with our senses is maya. That said if we don't have the ability to perceive ourselves as still, we must first still ourselves physically. I distinctly remember being in deep meditation and the thought came to me that if I wanted to go deeper I had to completely still my diaphragm. And again this would entail meditating for hours in complete stillness as the waves of air and tissue in my diaphragm slowly subsided. But I physically did not have the ability (sealing off the nasal passage) to still everything and so I could go deeper but not reach the ultimate goal. I keep thinking that if you can seal the nasal passage with the tongue, you can somehow put pressure into the diaphragm to help still it quicker. I don't know the most effective way of doing that because I can't seal the nasal passage yet.
Think of the ramifications of this. It is my belief that a baby is pure consciousness in the womb of its mother. The baby's diaphragm is filled with fluid that stills the tissue in the diaphragm. As soon as it is born, it is given the “gift” of breath and the ego or mind comes alive filling it with thoughts and desires until it is “born again.”
There are several accounts in the bible of fasting such as Elijah, Moses and in particular Jesus (when he went into the desert ) who all fasted for 40 days. I don't think Jesus would've done unnecessary acts. I know the Buddha tried the austerity bit and said this is not the path. That said most people would think that going without breath is an austere measure and speaking from experience I can say that I feel no lack. Does the yogi who has reached kechari stage 4 have the same view about food?
Taken from The Second Coming of Christ starting on page 170:
Through Kriya Yoga meditation, the consciousness is gradually transformed from identification with the inept and often treacherous physical body, with its love of breath and “bread,” to awareness of the inner astral body of self-renewing vibrant life energy, and thence to one's ultimate nature as a soul image of God: ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new Bliss......
Deep samadhi meditation is possible only when all bodily functions are stilled. Proper diet and fasting are helpful in conditioning the body for this state of quiet and interiorization. Jesus acknowledged this principle by fasting to spiritualize his body and free his mind during his forty days in the wilderness.
To meditate when the stomach is empty is a good practice because the energy that runs the nervous system is not then as busy with bodily functions. Meditation after heavy meals sets up a tug-of-war between the body consciousness and the soul's superconsciousness. With a full stomach, the heart, lungs, and digestive and nervous systems are all engaged in digesting food, burning carbon, and maintaining circulation to the lungs to rid the blood of carbon dioxide. This keeps the subconscious mind busy, which in turn injects its restlessness into the conscious mind. Such invasion of the consciousness precludes inner God-communion. But when the inner activities of the body are still, the heart is calm. When the heart is calm, the life current is switched off from the senses, and the mind is freed from restless thoughts to concentrate wholly on God.
People who habitually overeat and never fast harness the life force in their bodies to a relentless activity of burning carbon and cleansing venous blood, overworking the heart and keeping the five sense-telephones constantly active. Fasting in connection with meditation slows the activity in the muscles, heart, circulation, diaphragm, and lungs by denying carbon and chemicals to the blood, thus helping to draw the attention away from the body and its functions. Metaphysically, fasting helps to open the life-giving inner source of Cosmic Consciousness and Cosmic Energy.
Long fasting should never be undertaken without the guidance and direction of a competent preceptor. Long fast (that is, for more than one day a week, or three days once a month or every forty-five days – taking sufficient fluids) is not necessary in order to demonstrate the vital sustenance of Divine Power. Nourish the body and spirit with meditation.
Continuing from page 587:
So long as man's mind and life force are tied to the senses, he is at work. It is when he learns to switch off the life-force currrents in the nerves that connect the mind to the senses that he attains the true inactive state of transcendental Spirit. If “inactivity” is the measure of proper Sabbath observance, therefore, only the yogi who has reached the savikalpa samadhi state, wherein all bodily activity is suspended in the ecstatic trance of God-union, can be truly said to honor that commmandment.
The Gita points out an even higher state: the ulitmate stage of divine communion, nirvikalpa samadhi, in which the yogi retains his conscious oneness with Spirit without necessarily suspending the outer activity
I cannot recommend Yogananda's book The Second Coming of Christ – A revelatory commentary on the original teachings of Jesus enough. Words cannot express how blessed I feel having this great soul's knowledge about the ultimate truth at my fingertips. At my level of understanding, the bible is incomprehensible. It is like a complicated knot full of parables, allegories, metaphors, and similes that I have a hard time unraveling. In addition to this you have to contend with translational issues or mistakes (obviously the bible was not originally written in the English language) and what I believe is purposeful obfuscation. That would entail a conspiracy though and so that can't be true, right? Everyone knows that all conspiracy theories are the ramblings of kooks ;o)
Patanjali has given one process of how to still the mind which has a break through point of pratyahara - non-attachment. When we perceive we unsettle the potential energy of the perceived object and that resonates in our senses to trigger thinking.
Perceive - to become aware of, know, or identify by means of the sense.
When something stimulates us the energy of the stimulus starts us thinking about the stimulus.
When we think we get attached.
This causes us to make a conclusion – hey something is stimulating us
If we learn not to perceive by setting aside the thinking process the mind is made non-attached and our core is still.
If we learn not to be stimulated by the senses by not thinking about what is stimulating us, the mind does not make a conclusion – hey something is stimulating us.
How do you set aside the thinking process?
The objects of the world have life within and life spells movements.
Things in the world are made up of life that moves
By not attaching to it we achieve stillness which works on the primary cause.
By not making conclusions, the mind in not active.
Please dwell on this point of view.
How do you set aside the thinking process? I shut down the mind by stopping my diaphragm. What is your method?
One of the reasons I really like Satyananda's approach is he says let the mind do whatever it wants to do, you do your practice. He doesn't come out and say it in the book (he advises a guru) but the exercises in the book, result in the stoppage of the diaphragm. I was terrible at meditating prior to going breathless. My mind kept saying I don't want to meditate, lets do something else. The only reason I made it to where I am at is because I kept my mind occupied doing pranayama exercises. Now it is the exact opposite. The clutter my mind produces has slowed so much that I would much rather meditate than engage the mind and perform breathing exercises.
I like Eckhart Tolle's metaphor that explains how important the space is between the thoughts. Think of a room with many valuable things in it. But if you were to pick what is the most valuable thing in the room, it is nothing or no thing. Space is the most valuable thing in the room because without the space, the room would have no utility value or wouldn't exist. The space is where the stillness is.