Advanced Yoga Practices
Lesson 161 - Dark Nights and the Rise of Inner Silence
Date: Fri Apr 9, 2004 11:28pm
Q1: I’m still “on the wagon” and I guess I won’t stop meditating regularly twice a day in this lifetime.
Nevertheless I have cut back my practice to “meditation only.” I had progressed to meditation plus pranayama plus mulabandha plus sambhavi and things went really fine. I even made good progress in crossed leg sitting, something I found very difficult and distracting from meditation in the beginning. When things went fine the last time I was on holiday, first in the Austrian mountains, then on a tiny island in the German Northern Sea. It was a beautiful time and I was looking happily forward to returning back home, eager to start handling my life with more fun and on a higher energy level than ever before.
Then, when I arrived back home (two weeks ago) everything seemed to crash within the first 36 hours… I felt really, really bad and this lasted for several days (its not completely over right now but better). At that time I even stopped my practice completely for 1,5 days. Nothing dramatic had happened on the outside – it was just that I tried to resume my life where I had left it before I left for holiday and that didn’t work any longer.
I’m completely sure now that this crash hasn’t been caused by yoga, it must have been the positive development that had taken place while I was “off duty”. Maybe I’ve simply outgrown my former way of living.
Somewhere in the lessons you mention the advantages of a busy life for the integration of the purification and expansion achieved during practices. I can relate very well to that – nevertheless I’m much more a “be-er” than a “do-er” – my life is certainly out of balance on the side of too much withdrawal from worldly affairs. All my lifetime it hasn’t been too difficult for me to “reach high” and have sometimes quite intense spiritual experiences – but concerning “outside” day to day life I very often felt extremely overwhelmed, feeling that the world was way too rough and rude for me. A well developed sense of vulnerability…
This is why the concept of yoga you outline in the first few lessons seems to be so very attractive for me. The promise to reconcile the outer world with the inner… I’m really longing for that…
There is so much old pain coming up while I’m typing this – it seems to be something like the ruin of my lifetime (and the basic anatomy of the separation almost every human being experiences while being incarnated). This is PAINFUL.
So I’m working my way back up in practices. I really do believe you when you say this is a reliable way out – I felt so much of it already.
Probably experiencing the “dark night of the soul.”
A1: It is inevitable that highs lead to lows. It is in inner silence that we find the truth about it all. That is what meditation is for, gradually bringing up that silent bliss that is inherent in us within all the functioning of our body, mind, emotions, and the world. Then we see everything is going up and down while we, as silent pure bliss consciousness, stay put.
As for activity, yes, it is good to stabilize our silence gained in meditation in daily activity. But who is to decide what that activity will be for you? Not me. It is for you to follow your heart and do the things that bring you joy. Some of us are naturally more introverted. Then “activity” may be something not constantly involved with people. Others need to be in the middle of the crush of human endeavor. Only you can know what is your right activity.
Sometimes it is facing our fears and doing things that we shy away from. Then we feel growth in having faced our fears. But neither should we drown ourselves (and our spiritual practices) in overindulgence in what is not natural to us. The important thing is that we find a way to serve life by creating something, or by helping others directly. It can be in business, charity, or doing art in a secluded studio somewhere. Whatever satisfies the inherent need we all have to flow out into the world with our hearts. You are wise to keep meditating. It will gradually bring you the inner steadiness to make the best choices for yourself. Don’t rush. Just be purposeful about your life, and always try and honor the deepest longings in your heart.
As your practices advance, and with prudent self-pacing, you will find those old inner obstructions gradually dissolving. Give it time. It is the way in to permanent ecstatic bliss, and out of misery.
Q2: Thank you for your response, all your responses and your wonderful lessons… All so very uplifting and enlivening…
I’m slowly moving out of the shit – I know I’ll have to rearrange my general set-up in life and I’ll do so. I’m starting to look at this rearrangement as a creative process, something I’m actively involved in, maybe even something infused with pleasure and joy… quite a new perspective for me… maybe I’m moving out of my default mode of feeling more or less overwhelmed most of the time without even knowing so…
Yesterday I had a very surprising experience while listening to one of my favorite CDs. I’ve always been touched deeply by beautiful music. But now with more and more silence accumulating in my mind something has changed. I had always wondered why I was unable to reproduce tunes I loved so very much by singing them myself. I always could feel the music inside but when I tried to sing it only something more or less similar to the original came out, if the tune was complicated, something less similar…
Yesterday I suddenly realized that I had always been trying to sing my emotions stirred up by the music which of course where not the tune itself. With a mind which is a little bit more silent now, I still can perceive all the emotions the artist expresses in the music as well as my reactions but besides all that I can listen on a more “analytical level”. I’m hearing single notes instead of big clusters of emotional reactions, I also experienced an internal “visualization” of the parallel tunes – and, most surprising I discovered another tune in the tracks I had listened to so often before: The silence between the notes emerged like a very important new instrument I didn’t perceive at all before.
All those pieces had become more “airy”, somehow “thinner” with lots of empty silent spaces in them… very surprising and very interesting.
Mmmh… I wonder how the world will look like if this musical experience kind of generalizes, more detachment more huge empty silent spaces everywhere around and maybe more creative joy in a universe which is much easier to move around and handle?
Expecting change (and saying thank you for your continuous support)
A2: A very nice observation of silence coming up in your experience of music. Yes, all of life will become more and more like that. It will become normal and not noticed as a contrast, because you will forget how dark it was. Then there will be continuing contrasts going forward from the silence, to more silence, and then ecstasy coming up mixed with silence. On it goes like a spiral.
It comes from practices. Keep that in mind. We all tend to get a little infatuated at times with our experiences. As I have said in the lessons, progress comes from practices, not experiences, which is not to say we can’t revel a bit in the fruit of our yoga.
Change is in the air, for all of us. Here come dee-light. Enjoy!
The guru is in you.