meditation is the art and
science of systematically
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The levels of our being according to yoga are:
These levels go progressively deeper and deeper, from outer to inner. It is somewhat like having a lamp with many shades. The lamp is like the center of consciousness. The shades over the lamp (center of consciousness) cover one another in layers or levels.
However, within each of those levels of our being there are a variety of different aspects within those levels. There are five cognitive senses within the sensory level, many parts and systems within the body level, different attributes of breath within that level, and lots of different activities within the mind level of our being.
Through meditation, we come to know each of these levels and the nature of the various aspects, such that attention can move beyond all of the levels and aspects, to experience the center of consciousness from which all of these flow outward.
To study all these aspects of ourselves can seem like an overwhelming task at first. However, it's really quite simple. As you stroll through a garden, you may see many flowers, of different colors, sizes, and shapes. You notice them, enjoy their beauty, and move on. The same is true of these various levels and aspects of our own being. We notice them, enjoy their beauty, and move on gently inward, seeking the stillness and silence.
The body is like a building with ten doors, and these are the ten aspects of ourselves to explore at the sensory level. There are five entrance doors and five exit doors. These ten doors are called the ten indriyas.
The five entrance doors are the five senses of cognition (jnanendriyas). These are smelling, tasting, seeing, touching, and hearing. (These operate, in order, from the first through fifth chakras, or energy centers)
The five exit doors are the five means of expression (known in yoga science as karmindriyas, or instruments of action). These are elimination, procreation, moving, grasping, and speaking. (These operate, in order, from the first through fifth chakras, or energy centers)
Awareness of the ten indriyas is an important part of the inner journey, as these ten are the means by which the indweller communicates with the external world. This awareness is done both as mindfulness in daily life and introspection at the time of meditation.
To observe each of the ten indriyas is literally a practice unto itself. It means, for example, that when sitting at meditation time, one explores the ability to move and to hold on (karmendriyas), and the abilities to see and hear (jnanendriyas). By observing in this way, one gradually comes into greater awareness of the inner instruments of body and mind through which, and by which the indriyas operate. This opens the door for deeper introspection and meditation.
One of the most immediate ways of exploring the aspects of the body is in systematically surveying the body with the eyes closed. This means simple moving attention through the various parts of the body, such as head, neck, arms, hands, chest, abdomen, legs, feet, toes. and then returning in the reverse direction, all the way to the head. Such practices are forms of meditation on the body.
The physical level of ourselves known as body is composed of five aspects known as earth, water, fire, air, and space. One can easily lie down on the back in the corpse posture and survey inside, looking for each of these aspects with attention. As meditation deepens, one comes to know that these five elements have not only gross aspects, and also subtle aspects (called tattvas).
The various systems of the body are also aspects of the body which one may come to know internally to some extent. These include the muscular system, the skeletal system, nervous system, cardiovascular system, and gastro-intestinal system, and lymphatic system. Advanced yogis have various degrees of command over these systems.
There are many ways to describe the aspects of breath, which are to be examined, regulated, and transcended in meditation.
Exhalation, inhalation, and transition, are aspects of breath are very useful to observe and regulate. At a subtler level, there is a fourth aspect of breath (prana) which is always flowing, regardless of whether the surface, mechanical breath is in the phases of exhalation, inhalation, or transition.
Observing the qualitative aspects of breath is very useful to do. This means sitting quietly and observing that the breath is smooth, slow, quiet, and without jerks, and with no pauses. One comes to notice that irregularities in breath are caused by irregularities in the mind-field.
Also, at the subtler level, there are five aspects (vayus) of prana (the subtle energy which drives the breath). One of these flows downward, one upward, one throughout the body, one in the solar or navel center, and one which drives the regular breathing process.
Breath is the gateway to the entire subtle, energy body which supports the physical body. The yogis say there are 72,000 nadis (subtle energy channels). Where these form major intersections (like highway intersections), the concentration of energy is known as chakras. The nadis and chakras are also aspects of ourselves that we come to know, and move beyond, through meditation.
The first aspect most of us notice with the conscious mind is that it is quite noisy when we want it to be still for meditation.
To observe the noisy versus quiet aspects of the mind is one of the foundation practices of the art and science of yoga meditation. It means to observe the fact that some of our thoughts are colored (klishta) and others are not colored (aklishta).
By coloring, is meant that there is a reaction to the thought, usually an emotional reaction, or some response in the physical body such as nervousness or restlessness. We see that a particular thought arising from the basement of the mind is not neutral.
At this point we are not interested in why the thoughts are disturbing or how they got colored (though we learn they are colored as either attraction or aversion). To notice whether rising thought patterns are either colored or not colored is very useful.
The meditator comes to see that it is highly beneficial to allow thoughts to allow this coloring to fade away. This is called non-attachment (vairagya). It is important to note that allowing this coloring to fade away does not mean to become lethargic, lazy, or dull in life. It has to do with letting go of negative habits, thoughts, and emotions, as well as attachments or addictions, and aversions.
There are four aspects of mind based on the functions of the mind. These are manas (the sensory-motor mind), chitta (the storage place of memories and information), ahamkara (the ego, literally the "I-maker"), and buddhi (that aspect which knows, judges, decides, and discriminates between this and that).
It is extremely useful to observe, accept, understand, and train these four aspects or functions of mind, individually and collectively.
The four functions of mind are also aspects which are at play in the unconscious mind, even when one is asleep and dreaming.
The so-called unconscious mind is not at all unconscious. It is filled with consciousness. All that the word "UNconscious" means is "UNaware".
In meditation, one gradually begins to explore the unconscious aspects of the inner world fearlessly. After learning to calm the conscious mind, one allows the unconscious to come forward into the conscious state.
This does not mean to become psychotic, or to get lost in pursuing experiences in the subtle realm of the unconscious. Rather, it means to encounter it so as to let it go. This is a deeper level of letting the colorings fade away.
The latent or subconscious mind is the reservoir of all of our predispositions and memories when they are not active. We visit this latent part of the mind every day when we go into deep sleep.
This latent aspect of mind is the place from where our karmas arise. "Karma" means "actions". Our actions, or karma arise from some place. That place is the latent part of the mind. The latent thought patterns themselves are called samskaras.
Thus, when the latent samskaras stir in consciousness, arise and form chains of thoughts and reactions in the unconscious, and then come into the conscious, waking state of the external world, they lead to our actions or karma. These samskaras are an aspect of our own makeup, that which is the driving force behind our actions, speech, and thoughts.
The yogi wants to observe these samskaras in the latent form, which is an inactive or formless form. This is a means of "burning up" our samskaras, or purifying our minds at a very deep level. The exploration and purifying of this latent aspect of our being is not easy to do, but it can be learned and practiced.
There are no aspects as such in relation to the center of consciousness. All of the other aspects of ourselves are only in relation to this center.Physics, Chemistry, and Meditation
In our daily lives we already experience and accept these concepts of "levels" and "aspects" of reality, though we may not pay much attention to it. Just a few minutes of reflection can show one that the meditation process of knowing oneself on all levels is really quite logical and matches what we already see in the external world.
Einstein's theory of relativity is that E=MC2. We need not be physicists to understand the principle that matter and energy are interchangeable (Here we are not concerned with questions of quantum physics).
This fundamental "matter" or "energy" is at one level of reality. There is another level which has to do with atoms. In other words, atoms are made up of particles, which are, in turn made up of this "matter" and/or "energy".
Atoms then operate together to form molecules, another level. Molecules operate together to form compounds, another level. Compounds operate together to form objects, another level. Objects operate together to form our external environment, still another level..
Matter, energy, particles, atoms, molecules, compounds, objects, and our external environment. All of these are different aspects of the same one reality, and operate at different levels.
Within each of those levels, there are also many other aspects of objects. For example, at the level of atoms, there are 109 different aspects called elements (such as oxygen or hydrogen).
At the level of molecules, there are many thousands of different kinds of molecules. There are countless objects formed from those objects. Yet, all of these aspects, at each of the levels of reality coexist, one within the other.
The same is true of human beings, and our consciousness.
All of the levels of our being, and all of the aspects at each of those levels coexist in one beautiful, synergistic whole.
To know that whole is the goal of yoga.
------- This site is devoted to
presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of
the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and
beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of
our sadhana or practices is the highest
Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the
center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is
one and the same with the Absolute Reality.
This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga
Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the
intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which
complement one another like fingers on a hand.
We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti
Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha,
and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer
finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final
stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the
This site is devoted to presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand. We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.