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Special Articles on Hindu Dharma ~ Level - 3 ~
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Realization of Supreme through Concentration of the Mind
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Chapter - 7
True Spiritual Discipline through Meditation
HR 322 - 07
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Lesson 07.09:
Internal Sadhanas of Asana and Pranayamah
For Next Lesson
Please See Below
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The next are the Antharanga Sadhanas [Internal Principles] of Asana (steady posture), Pranayamahm (Regulation of Breathing) and Prathyahara (withdrawal of Senses from their objects). They produce serenity and steadiness of body and mind and leads to good health. These are the Antharanga Sadhanas or internal disciplines.

In Raja yoga, it is considered that the Asana, physical postures and Pranayamah serve to prepare the body and mind for the following steps: pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samãdhi (withdrawal of the senses, contemplation, meditation, and state of expanded or transcendental consciousness.

Asana in the sense is a posture that one can hold for a period of time, staying relaxed and with normal breathing "without effort". In Sanskrit, asana means literally "seat", the place where one sits; or posture, position of the body in any position. There are 84 asanas that are considered to be the main postures, of which the highest are Shirasaasanam (headstand) and Padmasanam (lotus).

The practice of asanas affects the following aspects or planes of the human being: 1. Physical (blood circulation, inner organs, glands, muscles, joints and nerve system); 2. Psychological (developing emotional balance and stability, harmony); 3. Mental (improved ability to concentrate, memory); 4. Consciousness (purifying and clarifying consciousness/awareness).

Pranayamah is the controlled exercise in breathing. Pranayamah is divided into three parts: filling, restraining, and emptying. In the lowest kind of Pranayamah there is perspiration, in the medium kind, quivering of the body, and in the highest Pranayamah levitation of the body and influx of great bliss. In all books they speak of Pranayamah being divided into Rechaka (rejecting or exhaling), Puraka (inhaling), and Kumbhaka (restraining, stationary).

The mind and life force are correlated to the breath. Through regulating the breathing, one learns to control prana. All Pranayamah practice ultimately works toward purification of the nadis (energy channels) and the awakening of kundalini shakti. The awakening of kundalini energy at the base [muladhara] chakra and its ascent to the crown [Sahasra] chakra is the final goal of Raja yoga.

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Lesson 07.10:
Pratyahara and Dharana to stabilize the Mind
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Pratyahara is bringing the awareness to reside deep within oneself, free from the senses and external world. The Goal of Pratyahara is not to disrupt the communication from the sense organ to the brain. The awareness is far removed from the five senses. Pratyahara cannot be achieved without achievement of the preceding limbs (Pranayamah, Niyamah, etc.). The awareness comes to rest deep in the inner space, and during this time the yogi's breath will be temporarily suspended.

Pratyahara should not just be likened to concentration or meditation, etc. It is a yogic practice that takes on adequacy with the prior 8 limbs as prerequisites. Bringing them under the control of the will is what is called Pratyahara or gathering towards oneself.

Concentration and meditation are essential part of Raja Yoga. Whereas Hatha Yoga deals with the physical discipline, Raja Yoga is also discipline of the mind. There are five states of the mind: [i] Wandering (Kshipta) when it is scattered; [ii] Forgetful (Mudha) when it does not know anything and is dull; [iii] Distracted (Vikshipta) when it is focused only for a short time; [iv] One-pointed (Ekagrata) when it is concentrated on one object; and [v] Controlled (Niruddha) when the thought waves are well controlled.

Controlling the mind is the first aim of the practice of yoga. Worldly pursuits and spiritual practices pull the mind in opposite directions. As the spiritual practices increases with meditation and concentration, one will get less attachment to worldly pursuits.

Dharana is concentration of the mind on any object, internal Chakra or Ishta-Devatha or Deity. Fixing the mind on the lotus of the heart, or on the center of the head, is what is called Dharana. A particular kind of mental wave rises while all others recede and finally disappears. The multiplicity of these waves gives place to unity and one wave only is left in the mind. This is Dhyana, meditation. Thus devotional prayers and Vedic Rituals of the Karma path and Bhakthi path will help in concentration of mind.

Retention of breath, Brahmacharya, Satvic (pure) food, seclusion, silence, Satsanga (being in the company of a guru), and not mixing much with people are all aids to concentration. Concentration on Bhrakuti (the space between the two eyebrows) with closed eyes is preferred. The mind can thus be easily controlled, as this is the seat for the mind.

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: Lessons : -: 7.01 : - : 7.03 : - : 7.05 : - : 7.07 : - : 7.09 : - : 7.11 :
A Collection of Lessons on Hindu Dharma discussed in Satsangh
There are Two Lessons on each page - so thay you can read two lessons each day.
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