The purpose of a teacher, or a tool, is to guide us. While Yoga and it’s different systems are perfectly structured, misinterpretations have elevated either the teacher or the practice/tool, instead of the Self.
What is the Self, with a capital S?
Our outer state of ever-changing experiences includes the things, the friends, the family in our external world. Our inner state of ever-changing experiences includes our interpretations of the outer world, our thoughts, and our physiological responses. The inner state experiences life through ego, intellect, mind, senses, and breath, all contributing to subjective life experiences.
Underneath both of these lies our inner Self. It is not just in some of us. It is in all of Us.
Yoga is a path to this inner Self, the unmanifest, unified aspect of who we are that remains unchanged by the process of manifestation. It is the pathway to connect our outer experiences to the deep inner content where man can “find their God within themselves “ (Maharishi, 2011). Experiencing Self, is the experience of Samadhi, one of the 8 limbs of Yoga.
Yoga translates to “Union” of mind and body, of awareness and physiology. Hatha Yoga is the physical Asana practice we are most familiar with and focuses on the physical practice to increase purities in the body and refine the breath through FORCE. This practice serves a purpose, but without Samadhi, it does little more than act as a “routine”.
There are 8 limbs of Yoga. The limbs are not steps, but different aspects that grow simultaneously allowing the practitioner to develop the purest state of mind. By directly experiencing this most subtle state of awareness, we align with a pure level of consciousness, experience no mental activity, just blissful awareness of “Self”. This can be known as a transcendent experience. The practice of Yoga, all 8 limbs developing simultaneously, develop this transcendental consciousness and the awareness that it is present at all times.
The distinction between the practice of Yoga includes specific techniques where the state of Yoga is a state of consciousness, a direct experience that allows the practitioner to connect with the always present Self by accessing thought from the gross level of the mind to the subtle state of thoughts to arrive at the source of all thought. By directly experiencing the subtle state of awareness, we align with pure consciousness, experiencing no mental activity, just blissful awareness of what Maharishi Mahesh Yogi calls Being, a momentary Samadhi, the brief union of body, breath, and mind. In Samadhi, the mind is only full of pure awareness, losing boundaries with inner and outer self experiences, expanding beyond all boundaries. Momentary Samadhi is practiced again and again, expanding and returning.
Preparing the physiology through movement and breath, cultures the body and mind but is not always Yoga. Other popular techniques today include meditation styles that include focused attention and open monitoring techniques. Focused attention like Buddhist meta practice increases beta/gamma activity in the brain, with associated increased activity in the brain and do not support quieting or stillness of the mind. Open monitoring techniques mindfulness produces theta activity and activates the left frontal cortex, associated with activity and evaluation. Both practices are beneficial but neither produce coherent alpha waves that are markers of transcendence. Additional markers of deep rest include activity in the front and back of the brain, while the thalamus is less active, also supporting the feelings of deep rest while actively alert during meditation. By beginning with Samadhi, we prepare the mind and body, allowing momentary Samadhi to grow toward the union of awareness, mind, body, and breath for longer periods of time, before bouncing back.
I have been a Yoga and meditation practitioner for twelve years and began practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) three years ago. While I feel I have always been on “a path”, I was very aware of my own self sabotaging tendencies. I would reflect on my choices and wonder what it was going to take to begin making different choices? I would tighten the reigns on Yoga practice, sit longer in meditation, and put forth great effort in controlling my actions. I could see my progress, but it was like looking at the grooves on a screw. Making full loops to find myself either barely up or down in what looked like a spiral. After learning TM, I stopped looking and measuring, and I stopped naturally. I noticed one day I had boundaries. I had the ability to have a difficult conversation, and not feel myself become physically affected. I was able to speak truthfully, adding value to my experience and those around me, naturally. I still self-sabotage but no longer beat myself up for it. I know I am unfolding perfectly, and have access through my TM practice to know that my next right actions will come without effort.
The “misfortune of every teacher that, while he speaks from his level of consciousness, his followers can only receive his message on their level”….”Having forgotten the prime importance of realizing Being, society became immersed once more in the superficialities of life.” These passages remind me that we can only receive at the level of our own awareness. And wherever we are, is exactly perfect. Our paths unfold from the point of our understanding. We can be enamored with the “superficialities of life” not as a distraction, but as a measurement of our own inner state. And from here….let’s begin again, with Samadhi.
Previously published on thesunnysoul.net and is republished here under permission.
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