Meditating – the Patanjali way
Patanjali, a sage who is said to have lived in the first century before Christ, had created a monumental work on the philosophy of yoga and its practice. His work speaks of an eightfold path to enlightenment. The eight steps prescribed by him in his aphorisms (Yoga Sutras) are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.
Yama basically entails the development of self control, a mastery over the five senses and freedom from the seven deadly sins, namely lust, gluttony, sloth, greed, anger, envy, and pride.
Niyama comprises regular practices that lay the foundation for spiritual upliftment such as cleansing the body and mind, developing a sense of contentment, disciplining the body through austerities and penances, studying the religious scriptures, and surrendering to God.
Patanjali stressed on the importance of assuming an appropriate posture or Asana during meditation. These postures were selected on the basis of the flow of energy along the seven chakras of the human body, starting from the root; through the sacrum, solar plexus, heart, throat and brow; to the crown. Sitting cross-legged or in the lotus pose is recommended with the spine erect.
Pranayama literally means controlling the breath of life. Once yogis learn the art of being in perfect control of their inhalation and exhalation, they can slow down their physiological and psychological processes and even halt them for indefinite periods of time.
That is how many of the yogis have been known to prolong their life, the logic being that if the number of breaths that a person will take in his or her lifetime is predestined, then these can be conserved and slowed down so as to increase the number of earth years spent in a single lifetime on this planet. The yogi focuses his attention in between the brows with closed eyes, continuously aware of his respiratory processes, both inspiratory as well as expiratory.
Withdrawing one’s mind from the senses and looking within instead of without is what Pratyahara is all about. In this stage, the yogi stops registering any external impressions and does not react to them anymore. As the body and the mind relax in unison, the ears do not hear, the nose does not smell, the eyes do not see, the tongue does not taste, the skin feels nothing. This is when the yogi realizes that he is not the body. The body only belongs to him temporarily for this lifetime.
Following this stage, the yogi begins to concentrate on the primeval energy, the cause of all causes, omnipresent and omnipotent. This stage is known as Dharana. The mind may waiver a little but with a little practice, this state is steadily maintained and is termed as Dhyana.
During this stage, the yogi has many out-of-the-body experiences and also tends to develop some special abilities that increase his egotism and distract him from the path to enlightenment. However, it is only after years of meditation that one out of a million yogis succeeds to reach the stage of Samadhi, the ultimate stage of meditation where the individual mind merges with the cosmic mind to get enlightened.
Share this Article with your Friends