Brain, mind and consciousness are the three important parts of human body. The brain is the master coordinator of the millions of functions, continuously occurring in the physical body. Mind is energy, and the various thoughts, passions and distractions, create waves in that energy. Mind functions are memory, concentration, the intellect and other similar abilities. The mind is the instrument of consciousness and the storehouse of our finite personality. Consciousness is infinite and unbound. Consciousness has four realms viz. consciousness, sub-consciousness, unconsciousness and super-consciousness. The underlying nature of all living organisms is consciousness. However, the consciousness is manifested at different levels in different organisms. In plants, it is at rudimentary level and in humans at more advanced level. Human beings have the potential to function from consciousness by liberating himself from the shackles of body-mind.
Meditation is the vehicle of journey into the inner realms of mind. It develops awareness and achieve a mentally clear & stable mind by adopting techniques such as mindfulness (to pay attention on thoughts), spiritual (prayer), focused (focus on internal or external object), movement (walking in woods, gardening), mantra (Aum), transcendental, progressive relaxation, loving-kindness (feelings of compassion, kindness, and acceptance of self & others) and visualization.
All meditation practices aim initially to develop concentration of mind. Perfect concentration (Dharana) leads to meditation (Dhyana). Bhagwan Shree Krishna has explained four paths of yoga. Each path has its mode to achieve meditation. The vehicle in Karma yoga is intense, concentrated work; in Bhakti yoga overwhelming devotion, in Jnana yoga the vehicle is an absorbing enquiry and in Kriya yoga a number of kriyas.
A concentrated mind becomes receptive to higher vibrations and heightened perception. It becomes receiver of the influx of higher awareness, bliss and knowledge. Concentration is the key that will unlock the door to higher states of awareness. All this is normally beyond the range of the average mind which is distracted by a continual inner chatter of thoughts.
Pre-requisites of Meditation:
To develop ability to sit long time in stable, still and relaxed position:
Sitting is relaxed posture (Padmasana, Siddhasana, Siddha yoni asana, Swastikasana, Ardha padmasana, Vajrasana, Veerasana or if former asanas are not suitable Sukhasana) is necessary for meditation.
To develop ability to do away physical and mental distractions leading to calmness and relaxation
It is totally impossible if the awareness is engrossed and entangled with external events or physical body. Even engagement in thinking about external world, is merely living in outside world with closed eyes. During meditation, distractions whatsoever need to be minimised.
Limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Darshan viz. yama, nyama, asana, pranayama & pratyhara are designed to minimise the distractions. Patanjali Yoga Darshan is discussed in article already published. Moderation & regulation of intake through sensory organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue & skin).
Ability to focus awareness on the inner realms of mind to the exclusion of all others Awareness or witnessing principle is gaining insight into these realms of existence and physical activities. If a person is aware then he becomes a spectator of his activities both internally and externally. Yoga aims at improving witnessing principle. Five sensory organs (eyes, ears, nose, skin and tongue) are intermediary instruments between outside world and consciousness. The sensory organs pick up signals for utilization by the brain. From brain, these signals are perceived by the consciousness. Brain is only the instrument which acts as receiver, transformer and transmitter. Without consciousness each one of us would be incapable of doing anything; we would be lifeless and would know nothing. One pointedness is achieved by focusing on breathing process, internal chanting of mantra (such as Om), external or internal object, different parts of the body or any symbol. All these facilitate in meditation.
Stages of Meditation:
The aim of meditation is to dive deeper into substratum of cosmic mind and to be aware of its potential.
Reference: A systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya – by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Psychic Energy Circles (Chakra) & Chakra Dharna
Researchers have theorized the chakra system with modern science. In Hinduism, chakras find mention in the later Upanishads, including specifically the Brahma Upanishad and the Yogatattva Upanishad. Chakras are used to denote the energy centers in the spinal region of the body and the mystic diagrams (yantras) which are also used in ritual worship. It is believed that the chakras vitalize the physical body and influence the physical, emotional and mental movements of the mind and body. They are considered to be the loci of life-energy (known as prana, shakti or chi), which also flow through them along the pathways called nadis. The main function of the chakras is to draw in the prana by spinning around their own axes and hold it in their respective spheres to maintain and balance the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of the mind and body.
Loizzo, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, New York has linked the chakras with central nervous system (CNS): the crown chakra with the neocortex, the third eye with the prefrontal cortex, the throat chakra with the limbic system, the heart chakra with the midbrain, the solar plexus with the pons, the sacral and root chakras with the medulla oblongata. Anodea Judith, New York relates Maslow’s need theory with the chakras, physiological need with the root chakra, safety with the sacral chakra, belongingness with the solar plexus, self-esteem with the heart chakra, self-actualization with the throat chakra, and transcendence with the third eye and crown chakras.
Acupuncture system of healing is actually based on the control and manipulation of the chakras. The practice includes about seven hundred chakras located throughout the entire body. These chakra points are stimulated by needles on specific areas of the skin surface. This physical stimulation induces changes in the more subtle chakras, which in turn bring about positive changes in the state of health of specific internal organs.
What are Chakras:
The word “chakra” means “wheel” in Sanskrit. Chakras or psychic (also called pranic or life) energy centres are certain masses of nerve ganglia on the interior walls of the spinal column. The chakras are whirlpools of pranic energy along the spine which controls circulation of prana. Chakras are visualized as lotuses, with a different number of petals and colours in every chakra. The physical base of a chakra would be a hub in typically dormant or subordinate electrical circuitry that becomes accessible to conscious control, providing the potential for subtle influence over the activities of the central & autonomous nervous system and endocrine system.
Biologically, in human nervous system, the spinal cord, at the brain, ends in a sort of bulb, in the medulla, which is not attached to the brain, but floats in a fluid in the brain, so that if there be a blow on the head the force of that blow will be dissipated in the fluid, and will not hurt the bulb. At the lower end of the hollow canal is what the Yogis call the "Lotus of the Kundalini", in triangular in form in which, in the symbolical language of the Yogis, there is a power called the Kundalini, coiled up.
These chakras are charged and awakened by yogic practices involving mantras, breathing, asanas (postures) and meditation. By focusing on chakras, psychic powers may be developed. A chakra can become blocked, which slows the energy wheel, or it can become overactive which causes the energy to flow too fast.
Types of Chakras:
In each person, there are myriad of chakras. These chakras are both real and symbolic. There are seven principal chakras: Muladhara, Swadhistana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddhi, Ajna and Sahasrara. The fifty letters of the albhabet in the classical language are distributed amongst these seven centres, and correspond to the sound vibrations associated with these chakras. The fifty first is that of the primal sound (Om, the pranava mantra). Lower chakras:
There are also lower chakras, below mooladhara – atala, vitala, sutala, talatala, rasatala, mahatala and patala. These chakras relate to less developed forms of life in the animal and insect kingdoms, in plant life and in inanimate objects such as rocks and minerals. All lack self-awareness, even the potential. But in human being this potential exists.
Attributes of the chakras:
Each chakra is a switch which turns on specific levels of the awareness in mind. The awakening of each chakra is inseparably related to both prana and consciousness. The Mooladhara and Swadhisthana chakras are considered to be pre-dominantly instinctive, with little awareness and discrimination. The higher chakras represent higher levels in the range of understanding, harmony, bliss, identification and knowledge. Ajna chakra is associated with more intuitive realms. The opening of the chakras is indeed full of wonders.
Location – directly behind the eyebrows centre; Shape - white two-winged globe; Patel in Lotus – two; Guna – Sattva; Tattva – nil; Kosha – Manomaya; Bija Mantra – Om; Loka – Tapah (abode of enlightened siddhas or perfect beings).
In the human organism, the Potential energy lies locked in central nervous system. This potential or dormant energy is called Kundalini and is symbolized by a snake coiled three and a half times. The coil of three represents the three states of energy (positive, negative and neutral), while the half coil represents kundalini as always on the verge of changing from static to kinetic manifestation. Kundalini lies at the root of the spinal column.
Chakra Dharna (concentration)
Chakra dharna is meditating on the seven chakras & Kundalini with unwavering mind. The practising person should sit in meditative asana, bring awareness on the location of the chakra (starting from muladhara to upward), rhythmically contract the muscles of the region and silently chanting the bija mantras. The person should do the chakra dharna according to the instructions of the realised spiritual teacher. With the awakening of the chakras come many pleasant and sometimes fantastic experiences.
The process of awakening of chakras should be slow so that there is gradual adjustment between one’s inner realization and the relationships with the outer world. On awakening, kundalini ascends Sushumna, awakening various chakras (vital centres) situated on the way and finally uniting with the top centre, Sahasrara which represent the union of Shiva and Shakti. This union may develop eight siddhis (Anima – power to be small; Mahima – power to expand; Karima – power to be heavy; Laghima – power to be light; Prapti – power to know past, present & future and to reach everywhere; Prahamiyam – power to achieve all one’s desire; Esathuvam – power over animate & inanimate objects; Vasithuvam – power of command over all by thought or word.)
Psychic Energy Channels (Nadis)
According to Shiv Samhita there are three and half lakhs of Nadis in the human body and according to Gorakh Samhita, there are 72,000 nadis (energy channels) extending out from the spinal cord. The three most important nadis or psychic nerves (Ida, Pingala and Sushumna) are the energy channels which pass through spine and connects the perineum and brain. The three paths are also known as ganga (Ida), Yamuna (Pingala) and Saraswati (Sushumna).
The psychic energy channels – Ida and Pingala, are the two nadis which play an important role in controlling the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems respectively. These nervous systems act largely unconsciously and regulates bodily functions, such as the heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, sexual arousal etc.
As per modern scientists, the human body has four types of biological rhythms – circadian (24-hour cycle), diurnal (day-night), ultradian (90 minutes) and infradian (over 24 hours). The ultradian rhythm is directly related to Ida and Pingala. Ultradian rhythm relates to periodic swings of mood, mental alertness, stomach contractions and many other physical and mental changes. This rhythm plays an important role in cognitive performance, memory processes, visual perception, levels of arousal and performance, mood, and individual and social behaviour.
Inhalation from left and right nostrils changeover periodically. Those people, who live near nature, generally have 90 minutes rhythm. But many factors modify this rhythm. In pranayama and meditative practices, the flow of inhalation in each nostril renders equal which induces the ideal situation for meditation.
During 24-hours day, flow through the Ida should pre-dominates for about 12 hours and the Pingala also for about 12 hours. During daylight hours, the Pingala generally pre-dominates and Ida tend to predominates during sleep at night. The path of Ida is concerned with the tendency to unleash mental powers, which are often used for selfish ends. The path of Pingala – the path pravarti marg – the path of external action and enjoyment. It is the path where one acts in the world mostly for personal gains.
Ida energy channel:
Pingala energy channel:
In the Sanskrit the word Kundalini has two words – Kundala which means ‘coiled’ and Kunda which means ‘a pit’, ‘depression’ or ‘deeper place’.
Dharana is the sixth limb of yoga sutras as defined by Patanjali. Dharana means “holding,” “concentration,” or “steady focus.” By practicing several techniques, “binding” the mind to one place, idea, or object is done.
There are a few practices which induce dharana. These practices are discussed hereunder:
Naumukhi mudra (closing the nine gates) –
In human body, there are nine gates through which one perceives all the sense and experience of the outside world. The tenth gate is ‘Brahma Dwara’ which leads to transcendental experience and realization. The tenth gate is closed. In Naumukhi mudra, these nine gates are closed temporarily which prevents external perception and helps to open tenth gate.
Process – Sit in siddhasana, keep the back straight but relaxed, close the eyes, do khechari mudra, place hands on the knees, exhale deeply & bend the head forwards slightly, fix the attention on the mooladhara chakra, repeat mooladhara mentally 3 times while holding the breath, inhale with ujjayi pranayama & simultaneously move awareness up the arohan, while moving up be aware of the various chakras, raise the head as awareness passes from vishuddhi to bindu, inhalation should be completed when awareness reaches the bindu, practice shanmukhi mudra by gently closing the ears with the thumbs, the eyes with both forefingers, the nostrils with the two middle fingers and lips with the fourth & fifth fingers, practice moolabandha without jalandhara bandha, practise vajroli mudra, at this stage all gates are closed, be aware of awarohan, try to visualise a shining copper trishul (trident) in the spine with the root in mooladhara chakra and three prongs extending upwards from vishuddhi chakra, continue to retain breath, central prong pierces bindu, as it pierces bindu mentally pronounce the mantra ‘bindu bhedan’ once, feel the explosion is in all directions from bindu, then the trident will drop downwards again to the starting position, feel rising & falling of trident, then release vajroli mudra, release moolabandha, release the pressure of the fingers & thumbs and lower the hands to the knees, exhale with ujjayi pranayama and khechari mudra while simultaneously moving the attention through the centres of awarohan, be aware of each centre, exhalation to end at mooladhara, hold the breath, bend head slightly forward, one round complete, practice five rounds.
Shakti chalini (conduction of prana) -
In Sanskrit the word ‘shakti’ means energy or kundalini and chalini means ‘to move’ or ‘to conduct’. The kriya is related to awakening of kundalini.
Process – Sit in comfortable asana, hold the back straight, close the eyes, keep the eyes closed throughout the entire practice, do khechari mudra, exhale deeply, bend heas forward, fix awareness on at mooladhara chakra, mentally pronounce the name mooladhara 3 times, inhale with ujjayi pranayama & ascend the awareness through arohan, be aware of each chakra, raise the head as the awareness moves from vishuddhi to bindu, inhalation to cease on reaching bindu, hold the breath, practice shanmukhi mudra, closing the eyes, ears, nose, lips with fingers & thumbs, allow the awareness to rotate in the continuous circle through awaroham and arohan, simultaneously try to visualize a thin green snake moving in the same closed loop (Moola to bindu & bindu to moola), continue to hold the breath, visualize the snake as bitting its own tail, be aware snake spin off the circuit, continue this visualization till comfortable, then release shanmukhi mudra and place hands on the knees, fix awareness on bindu, exhale with ujjayi pranayama while being aware of each centre, exhalation should terminate at mooladhara, lower the head forward, end first round, do 5 rounds.
Amrit Pan (Drinking the nectar) -
Amrit is the divine fluid which brings immortality. The amrit flows down from the bindu to the vishuddhi chakra. It is stored in a small chakra called lalana chakra located at the soft part of palate and back of the mouth. It is the area which is pressed by the tongue during khechari mudra. Lalana chakra is connected with vishuddhi chakra. Normally, amrit flows downward and consumed by the fire of sun at manipura chakra. It leads to aging of the body. The process is reversed by Vipreeta Kranti mudra and amrit pan kriya.
Process – sit in meditative asana, keep eyes closed, hold the back & head upright, do khechari, fix awareness at manipura chakra in the spine, exhale deeply, inhale with ujjayi and imagine amrit is drawn up from manipura chakra through anahata to vishuddhi, inhalation to end at vishuddhi, feel the fluid become ice cold, then exhale with ujjayi and feel the cool nectar being injected from vishuddhi to lalana chakra, when awareness reaches the lalana, feel the breath & nectar disperse & evaporate, return the awareness to manipura, end of first round, do 9 rounds.
Chakra Bhedan (Piercing the chakras or psychic centre) –
After the completing amrit pan, chakra dharna bhedan should be done.
Process – remain in sitting position, head upright facing forwards, keep eyes closed, continue khechari mudra, ujjayi pranayama throughout, exhale, fix the awareness on swadhisthana chakra in the spinal awarohan passage, then while inhaling move the awareness downwards from the swadhisthana chakra to the mooladhara chakra, then move upwards from swadhisthana to vishuddhi, be aware of each centre & feel them being pierced by the breath, inhalation ends at vishuddhi, start immediately exhalation with awareness moving upwards to bindu & descending through ajna to swadhisthana, exhalation ends at swadhisthana, one round complete, repeat, do 59 rounds.
Sushumna darshana (Inner visualization of the chakras) –
Sushumna indicates balance between heat & cool, sympathetic & parasympathetic and introversion & extroversion. It is only route to self-realization. It is the practice of inner visualization of symbolic pictures of the chakras. All the diagrams are only symbolic in nature. It is perfectly all right to use one’s own pictures. Process – sit in comfortable sitting pose, keep eyes closed, breathe normally, try to visualize mooladhara chakra diagram, then successively move to others chakras & reach to sahasrara, finally visualize all the chakras together or at least 2-3 chakras together, practice regularly.
Prana Ahuti (Infusing the divine prana) –
Prana is shakti. The food is split into smaller particles (molecules then atoms) at the level of annamaya kosha in the body. The process produces bioplasmic or physical energy. This type of prana is vital energy forming a sheath called collectively as pranamaya kosha. This energy exists in all living and non-living beings including physical universe. It links mind and matter and coordinates physical energy and matter. There is more subtle form of energy called as mental energy. It controls both physical and bioplasmic energies in the universe and its sheath is called as manomaya kosha. In human beings, it is in the form of thoughts. Prana exists at more subtle levels also. The prana is represented by multitude of deities such as durga, kali, etc. These deities are worshipped because of prana symbolized by these deities which bring either auspicious or inauspicious changes into one’s life.
Process – Remain sitting comfortably, keep eyes closed, breath normally, imagine that there is divine hand on the head, feel the soft touch, feel that the hand is infusing subtle prana into the body and mind, prana flowing through the spine, initially it will be imagination, later actual flow will be felt with tickling sensation, body may shake, eventually the prana will penetrate mooladhara, end of practice, continue the Uthan kriya.
Uthan (Raising the kundalini) –
The prana ahuti kriya is continued as Uthan kriya in the same sitting system. Fix the awareness on mooladhara chakra, try to clearly visualize a shivalingam in the area, the shivalingam is encircled by a red baby snake, the snake trying to uncoil and eventually it begins to ascend through spinal passage, tail of the snake remains at lingam, snake move up and down, continue the practice, one may feel the bliss, end of practice, continue next kriya Swaroopa darshana.
Swaroopa Darshana (Vision of ourself):
In yoga, one’s real nature or form is called the atma. It is the discovery and direct perception of the self that is the whole purpose of yoga.
Process – Sit comfortably, keep eyes closed, body should be motionless, become aware of the physical body, let there be total, uninterrupted perception of the whole body, feel the steadiness of the body and stillness, become aware of the natural breath, gradually the body will become rigid as all the muscles are frozen, every part of the body will become stiff, feel stiffer and stiffer, psychic stiffness also, no efforts are required for the stiffness which is done automatically. Now move to next kriya – Linga Sanchalana.
Linga Sanchalana (Astral conduction):
Continue Swaroopa darshana kriya, keep awareness of kriya, one should find that he is doing spontaneous, effortless ujjayi pranayama and khechari mudra, feel whole body & in turn every part, every cell is inhaling and exhaling; continue to imagine the process, notice that the body seems to expand with every inhalation and contract on every exhalation, at the same time, the physical body remain stiff & immovable as a stone statue, actually the astral body is expanding & contracting, be aware of this process, synchronized with breathing, expansion takes place to a constant limit, but contraction is becoming more and more, until eventually the astral body reduces to a single point of light, the whole being seems to contract to one tiny, concentrated point, when one have this experience, discontinue this kriya. Now move to next kriya – Dhyana (Meditation).
The purpose of this article is just to highlight importance of kriya yoga and to guide “how to do Kriya”. Kriya yoga is a system that has always been taught directly by guru to disciple.
Chidakasha Dharana -
Chidakasha means in Sanskrit is inner cosmos; Chit means consciousness; Akasha means space; Dharna means to concentrate or to be aware. It is powerful tool for helping to remove mental blocks, fear etc. The practice should be regularly done for at least about half an hour.