The Real Secret of the   
    YAMAS & NIYAMAS
    A Formula for Meditation


    *I wrote the following passage and would appreciate your
    comments and criticism.  It brings out a generally overlooked but
    central point – the application directly to one’s personal practice
    or sadhana.

    We are multi-dimensional beings - and so is the ancient
    knowledge. The famous Yamas and Niyamas, the “limbs” of
    yoga, are found in the Verses on Yoga of Patanjali.  And each of
    these words has multi-dimensional levels of meaning:

    What is YOGA?  Yoga is the union of self with Self. The direct
    experience of this is meditation. Therefore, first and foremost, the
    Yamas and Niyamas are a formula for meditation.

    1. They describe the process.  
    2. They advise on how to do it.

    5 YAMAS, RESTRAINTS

    AHIṀSĀ: NON-INJURY

    “Yama” also means “death”. And when we go within and awaken
    in the Self, all injuriousness ends or “dies”.
    We leave the outer field of dis-integration and stress and enter the
    field of regeneration and wholeness.

    The process must not be forced or injurious to our psyche or
    nervous system.  It is a process of gentle surrender to the
    meditative flow.

    Furthermore, our practice should adjust to the rhythms of life -
    the hour of the family dinner, the time for going to work, etc.

    SATYA: BEING REAL, BEING HONEST and SINCERE

    We experience that dimension that is True and Real with capital
    letters, because all our ideas and outer realities are true only in a
    relative and temporal sense. This is “Satya”.

    Even with a good meditation technique we still need to have
    sincerity.  High purpose and humble attitude.  

    TIP: Ask yourself if you have an ulterior motive – to make a show
    or just to get out of washing the dishes?  Are you humble enough
    to seek guidance or the support of a meditation group?  

    ASTEYA: NON-STEALING

    Being Innocent, without expectations—then meditation is
    successful.  We sit aspiring to a higher contact, but then must let
    the sitting unfold as it will.

    All our life we have been “stealing”--grasping for this and that.
    Our senses appropriate--steal--what they enjoy.  Now, finally, our
    tired senses and mind rest back in their own place.

    TIP: Just take it as it comes.

    BRAHMACHARYA: MOVING TOWARD THE UNBOUNDNESS

    Brahman, pure being-ness, comes from the root word “bri”, “to
    expand”.  Our bio-energies expand. They flow upwards, refine
    and spread out.  How nice it is!

    This expansion happens spontaneously with the previous Yamas
    – gentle surrender, sincere intention and innocent attitude. The
    energies to flow upwards spontaneously.

    TIP: If you feel sluggish, try correcting your posture, using
    meditative music, recalling your mantra, doing slow breathing.

    TIP:  If we are troubled by lust during meditation—try simply
    putting the attention on the field of energy that surrounds us. Or
    try immediately changing the thought for its opposite.

    APARIGRAHĀ: NON-GRASPING

    The “holding on” to ideas, feelings and stresses gets immediately
    undermined as we turn within.  It all  loosens up more and more
    as the minutes go by.  Our body is an automatic self-cleaning
    machine!

    Gradually, even deep-rooted stresses stored in our nervous
    system begin to dissolve –and this often clouds the experience,
    creates lots of thoughts, restlessness or even physical
    sensations or movements during the sitting.

    TIP: Thus, the importance of sitting our full length of time!  Let it
    all out!

    TIP: Nor should we try to look for or hold on to any experience in
    meditation.

    Here is an example of “the grasper”:

    Joe Meditator has read about the “Supreme Light of a
    Thousand Suns”. The idea has infected his mind. Now he is
    trying real hard to see the light, waiting for it, hoping.  He
    used to
    enjoy meditation but now he is so frustrated.  So, he quits.  
    Then he runs from one teacher to another. He has a long list
    of the initiations he has taken, and wants even more.  

    Better to do like the Buddhists say and “Just
    sit”. As the poet Blakes said:

    “He who binds to himself a joy,  
    Does the winged life destroy,  
    But he who kisses the joy as it flies,  
    Lives in Eternity's sunrise.”   

    5 NIYAMAS, OBSERVANCES


    SHOUCHA: CLEANLINESS  

    The pure, stress free state of the nervous system gets restored.
    Fatigue is released. The chemical blood lactate diminishes. The
    posture may straighten.  Deep impressions of past and past-life
    actions (sanskaras) are burnt out.  

    TIP: Wash up before meditating, stretch, sip some water, sit in a
    clean place, purify the air with music or mantras, breathe.
    Whatever helps it along!

    SAṀTOSHA: CONTENTMENT, PATIENCE  

    The needed Patience to sit our full time, to meditate each day is
    self-generated – because the process gives an increasing feeling
    of contentment.

    It takes time, at the very least 15-20 minutes, for the nervous
    system to settle down.

    TIP: Be patient also when it doesn’t feel so great--when there is
    restlessness, boredom, aches and pains or worries that don’t go
    away.

    TAPAH, AUSTERITY

    The root “tapah” means “heat”.

    There comes then a sort of “yogic fire”--a delightful purifying
    energy--that “roasts the seeds” of past impressions -- so that we
    can get release from the jail of our past karma.

    On the bodily level that means that the accumulated deep-seated
    stresses in the nervous system gets dissolved.

    Tapa also means to fast from food, talking or time and energy
    wasting activities. Deep meditation is true fasting because our
    senses fast from enjoying their objects as we transcend.

    TIP: Have a fiery intention to sit – no matter the heat, cold, noise
    or what foolish people say. Sit like a mountain.

    SVĀDHYĀYA, SELF-STUDY

    We get lost to the world for a short time and found to ourself.
    Consciousness of consciousness in its pure essence..

    One classical meaning of Svadhyaya is reciting a mantra. A
    mantra-sound or one’s own breath emerge from and can lead us
    back to the Self.

    TIP: Continually one should return to the mantra or the breath
    -- and again let it go. Return and let go. Return and let go. Thus,
    penetrate into the Self.

    * This Self Knowledge should be taught in school along with the
    knowledge of subjects so people then live using their full
    potential!

    IŚVARA-PRAṆIDHĀNĀ, SURRENDERING CONTROL TO
    MOTHER NATURE

    Ultimately, in meditation we have to step out of the way of the
    process, let go of whatever technique we use, transcend the
    technique, let Nature do it.

    “The natural tendency of the mind to go to a field of greater
    happiness takes us within to the field of unbounded being. The
    natural tendency of the nervous system to throw off stress and
    restore normal functioning pulls us out into thoughts. If all is
    managed by Mother Nature, what can control accomplish?”  
    (loose quote of Mahesh Yogi).

    TIP: “Let go and let God.”

    ~ ~ ~ ~

    NOTE: The rest of Patanjali’s  Eight-fold Body of Yoga is similar.

    For example, PRĀṆĀYĀMA, expansion of life force, and ĀSANA,
    bodily stillness – both occur spontaneously. You can feel it. It
    cannot be forced. But more on this later..  

    The last-mentioned limb is SAMĀDHI, the “head”. This also is
    normal, natural, no big deal. (Okay, maybe the enlightened yogi’s
    SAMĀDHI is a big deal, but that is something different.)  We can
    have ours too—every man and woman should be enjoying
    transcendence!  It brightens the whole life!

    A higher level of Yoga is when we stay in that state all the time.
    That is called NIVIKALLPA SAMADHI. We no longer “lose our
    head”. But we go to get our head on straight first by meditating.

    Note:  Patanjali’s ASHTANGA YOGA translates as "Eight Limbs of
    Union" , not "8 steps" of laborious preparations as is frequently
    mistranslated.

    Don’t let any authority tell you it is very difficult, that there are long
    steps of preparation and especially that you need their special
    technique. It is YOUR BEING.

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