Yoga, in its true sense
In the early 70's Yoga in the west was in its infancy. As one Yoga teacher stated, when interviewed by Huffington Post: "It was a time when people confused yoga and yogurt".
Yoga has become a widespread method of easing physical stress and mental tension. Physical discomfort or ailments contribute towards restlessness of the mind. The perturbed mind becomes the major source of physical disorders. Nearly eighty percent of our ailments are psychosomatic in origin. This shows the need for establishing harmony between body and mind in order to keep humans happy and healthy. Yoga can play a vital role in enabling mankind to achieve such harmony, consisting of exercises for achieving physical purification and contemplative methods for disciplining the mind.
The Classical Yoga of India
Yoga was invented by the ancient sages of India. It is found in the ancient scriptures of India. What is this yogic technique of meditation? According to the average lay person’s perception, meditation is sitting still with closed eyes, concentrating the mind in the region between the eyebrows to make the mind thoughtless. However, those who try to meditate in this manner experience that meditation neither comes easily nor is it constantly stable and without disturbance. When we make a willful effort to focus the mind at one point or on one object, it begins to diffuse and creates hurdles because the nature of the mind is to be constantly thinking. It is difficult to keep the mind quiet without proper technique.
Yoga discipline shows the correct technique of meditation which requires that the seeker should take the help of Prana (the life-force residing in us). One cannot meditate successfully without taking recourse to this Prana energy. We know our body and we know what the mind is. But we cannot comprehend Prana until we have experienced its existence within us. The physical body functions on the gross plane while the mind functions on the subtle plane. But Prana functions simultaneously at the gross and subtle levels and forms the link between the body and mind. In the absence of Prana, neither the body nor the mind can function.
Spontaneous yogic meditation begins when Prana is allowed to act as a dominant force. Then no willful effort is required for meditation. Prana is a dynamic force moving from the physical plane to the subtle plane. Once we have caught up with its movement and experienced it from within, innumerable physical manifestations and subtle processes start occurring spontaneously. The mind assumes the role of a witness in the initial stage and, later on, it is driven towards introversion. Prana overpowers the meditator who cannot have a choice with regard to its movement and intrinsic subtlety. If the meditator learns to surrender to this life-force, it will lead him towards the transformation of his inner being.
After surrendering to Prana, meditation becomes a natural process of ‘letting go’. Real meditation is a natural process requiring no conscious effort of any type. It is born out of spontaneity. When Prana is allowed the freedom to command the whole being, it generates wave-like vibrations running down to the toes and rising to the crown of the head. Sometimes it moves very slowly and at other times at a fast pace. The vibrations of Prana create a synthesis of physical, mental and psychic functions leading to inner integration.
In the advanced stage, the flow of thought becomes directed to a single point where the mind remains fixed. This is the seventh step in the eightfold path of yoga, reached after many years of practice. Finally, when the mind becomes highly absorbed into the inner soul, it is the state of self-realization which ultimately leads to God realization. That brings liberation and an end to the cycles of birth and death. This, in a nutshell, is Sahaj Dhyan Yoga, ‘yoga of spontaneous meditation.’