Advanced Yoga Practices
Lesson 180 - Off to a Good Start in Meditation
Date: Wed May 5, 2004 10:43am
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, “Why This Discussion?”
Q: I just wanted to tell you how glad I am you started this group. I will be the first person to admit how skeptical I was of Yoga. I got a pre-approved e-mail and decided to at least read and educate myself. But after my very first meditation session, I have to admit that I have NEVER felt so relaxed. It was very strange, yet comfortable. The time flew by, my meditation lasted about 26 minutes and it seemed like 5 minutes. A few things did happen that I did not see mentioned in the lessons. I felt “tingly” and numb. I even had small visions if you want call them that, of light “dancing” and forming into small balls of light. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how “At Peace” I feel with myself after my first lesson. I have a very stressful life and alot of things that need to be ‘flushed’ out, and I will be continuing your lessons as long as it takes. I am smiling right now, something I have not done in I do not remember how long. Thank You! You have made me a believer. 😉
A: You are off to a great start with meditation, and this is wonderful. As you get further into the lessons you will find more information that will help broaden your understanding of the process of purification and opening of your nervous system to the reality within. The inner lights and tingling you have experienced right away are symptoms of good things happening – inner openings. When experiences like this come up during meditation, and you realize you are off into them, just easily go back to the procedure of meditation, which is easily going back to the mantra. There is a lot of discussion throughout the lessons on how to handle experiences during practices. Experiences are a good sign of progress on our journey to enlightenment, but it is practices that move us forward, and this is why we favor the practice we are doing during the time of our routine. That doesn’t mean we can’t take a look out the window once in a while as we cruise down the road and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
While you have had an exceptionally good start in meditation, I must tell you that it will probably not always be idyllic like that. We all may not start out with such a smooth experience, and this is no reflection on the progress, peace and joy we will experience as we continue to meditate. As the nervous system is being purified during yoga practices, sometimes the experience can be very clear and blissful. Other times it can be a bit murky as obstructions are being loosened deep inside and coming out. Whatever the experience is, good progress is happening as we follow the procedure of meditation. It is important to understand the mechanics so we will be clear about the effectiveness of our practice during both the idyllic and the murky experiences. Both have their fascinations and their distractions, and both will yield more clarity in our activity in daily life as we undergo gradual purification and find more blissful silence coming up from within. The most important thing is that we continue with daily practice for as long as it takes. If we have that attitude, enlightenment will not elude us.
This is why “desire” was the first topic covered in the lessons after the brief introduction on yoga. The cultivation and direction of desire is repeatedly touched on, and then covered in its full implications as the rise of “bhakti,” which means, “love of Truth, or God.”
All of this is to say, once we learn to rely on our ongoing spiritual desire (bhakti) and commitment to cultivating the divine union within ourselves, then we can sustain our daily practices over the long haul no matter what. Then our motivation is not dependent the ebbs and flows of daily experiences, even as they steadily grow to become unending (and sometimes overwhelming) ecstatic bliss over the course of our journey in yoga.
Of course, this experience of enlightenment is what we are all after. The paradox is that the best way to cultivate it is not by focusing on the experience, but on effective practices that cultivate it over the long term.
You will find many new things coming up as you move forward in yoga. One of the most interesting and useful is the natural “connectedness” of the different aspects of yoga through our nervous system. This means that while spiritual desire leads to meditation, meditation also leads to more spiritual desire, yogic breathing methods, and a range of other practices. Then all of these new practices lead to other yoga connections. It is like we are living in a glass house with dirty windows. As we clean one window, we can better see all the other windows that need to be cleaned, and we can also see more cleaning tools and are drawn to use them. The yoga methods are about cleaning all the windows. The more cleaning we do, the more ways we find to do the job faster and better.
Once the nervous system starts to become purified from within, it knows what it needs to hasten the process, and all we have to do is go with it. The lessons are designed to accommodate this rising connectedness of yoga we experience. As you continue to meditate you will notice this phenomenon occurring in many areas of your life. It is like waking up to a whole new luminous world that was right here in front of us all the time. Enjoy!
The guru is in you.