A man asked Gautama Buddha, “I want happiness.” Buddha said, “First remove “I,” that’s Ego, then remove “want,” that’s Desire. See now you are left with only “Happiness.”
Desire is very common to all. Some desires are quite healthy, useful, and appropriate; some are not. One function of meditation practice is to help us distinguish between these. And differentiating helps support the beautiful aspiration for liberation and compassion.
Your ego is your conscious mind, the part of your identity that you consider your “self.” When we engage in ego-driven activity, we’re trying to reinforce this sense of self. The sense-of-self is not a thing, instead it is a process. Enlightenment occurs when the usually automatized reflexivity of consciousness ceases, which is experienced as a letting-go and falling into the emptiness and being wiped out of existence. Stop trying to grab onto anything and the enlightenment will occur.
“Mindfulness Mediation” or Vipassana Meditation is a capacity for heightened present-moment awareness that we all possess to a greater or lesser extent. “Mindfulness” are particularly effective, because they aim at changing the underlying beliefs and patterns of negative thinking that create the anxiety. Essentially, you learn how to focus mindfulness on the underlying core emotions and make them the primary object of your meditation. Generally, it is what is not seen that has most power over you, and mindfulness meditation is directed at exploring the structure of our inner feelings in great detail.
Training this capacity seems to have a quieting effect on brain areas associated with our subjective appraisal of our self. By considering thoughts and feelings as transitory mental events that occur, but are separate from the self, people are able to lessen their hold on their worries and positive mental health outcomes follow. Mindfulness can be as simple as just watching the breathing.
Even the most basic tasks such as washing the clothes can consume so much emotional energy that it simply becomes easier to give up. So much emotional energy is expended in this endless worrying that we are left feeling completely drained and fatigued, which makes us even less able to cope.
However, what is even more important than the thoughts or beliefs at the core of anxiety conditions are the emotions, the feeling energy that empowers those thoughts and beliefs. This is what we address in Mindfulness Meditation.
When you develop a mindfulness-based relationship with your inner emotions you set up a completely different inner environment that greatly facilitates transformation, resolution and healing of the emotional constructs of anxiety and fear. The simple fact is that reactivity inhibits change, while mindfulness promotes change and healing. You first learn to recognize the impulse to react with fear or panic as it arises, and to respond at a very early stage to the impulse with mindful-attention. This simple action stops the reactivity proliferating into worry and negative thinking, and opens up a brief moment of choice, a space before the reaction takes off. This is the beginning of the de-conditioning process. With practice you can develop and lengthen this space, especially in mindfulness meditation sessions, which become practice grounds for developing new ways of responding to your emotions and the associated external situations.
As you develop this space, what is called the “therapeutic space of mindfulness,” you create an opportunity in which the trapped emotional energy that powers the reactions can unfold, unwind and become much more malleable. This inner freedom allows emotions to change and transform, which eventually leads to their resolution. We all know the importance of “facing our feelings.” Well Mindfulness Meditation provides the method and details of how to do that, and in a way that leads to beneficial change, rather than simply re-experiencing the emotional reactivity. It is a well-established fact that Exposure Therapy, in which you deliberately make controlled contact with your fear or phobia, is an essential part of healing, but the whole point of such therapy is not to simply re-experience the trauma, but to experience it differently. Mindfulness allows you to do this very effectively, and with your mind will rapidly learn new perceptions and new pathways of experiencing that are not based on emotional reactivity but on balanced responsiveness. This in turn naturally leads to more functional and more positive thinking and more useful core beliefs that are empowered by positive emotional energy, rather than the previous negative energy. How to Do Mindfulness Meditation:
1. The techniques of mindful meditation is not new. You just find a quiet and cozy place. Sit in a chair or at the floor along with your head, neck and back straight but not stiff.
2. Try and set aside all thoughts of the past and the longer term and stay within the present.
3. Discover your breathing, targeting the feeling of air moving out and in of your body as you breathe. Feel your belly rise and fall, the air enter your nostrils and leave your mouth. Listen in on the way in which each breath changes and is different.
4. Watch every thought come and go, whether or not it’s a worry, fear, anxiety or hope. When thoughts arise to your mind, don’t ignore or suppress them but simply note them, remain calm and use your breathing as an anchor.
5. If you end up getting over excited to your thoughts, observe where your mind went off to, without judging, and easily return for your breathing. Remember to not be hard on yourself if this occurs.
Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation:
Mindfulness gives rise to insights which ripen into wisdom, because the more deeply and clearly we are able to observe the reality of our mind body and world, the more we will understand how and why things are as they are.
Here are 10 benefits to practice mindfulness meditation.
Increases grey-matter density in the hippocampus (an area of the brain known to be important for learning and memory) and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection.
Reduces Anxiety Disorders, Including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Reduces Sleep Problems
Improve focus, concentration, and precision.
Improves Relationship Issues
Enhance the quality of communications and relationships.
Deepen peace of mind and sense of flow
Deepen insight and intuitive wisdom.
Awaken more authenticity, heart, soul, and caring in our lives and work.
Each one of us is having the ability to heal ourselves. We need to learn the techniques for healing. Yoga and Vipassan are two beautiful ways to control pain and bring happiness in life. Both these techniques are scientifically proven and millions of people are getting benefits of that. Just like allopathic medicines, too much Yoga and too much Vipassana meditation is harmful for body and mind. You should be careful they should not create addiction.
Great Yoga and Vipassana master Sri Amit Ray of Uttarkashi in the book “Yoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Life Style” beautifully explained the ways and means to use yoga and Vipassana for pain management and stress relief. He says “Select your own yoga posture slowly and very gently twist your body and gently focus your attention to the starting place of the physical pain. Just comfortably permit your awareness to rest in that area for few moments and then move your attention to the ….. “. The book beautifully amalgamated the two ancient meditation and yoga techniques.
But Yoga and Vipassan are not the answer for all pains, particularly for acute pains you need to take proper medical advice. Yoga postures should be selected depending on the nature of pain.
The concepts and methods of harmonizing body, mind, and spirit introduced centuries ago by Patanjali have been adopted by scientists, religious and spiritual leaders, and experts in the field of physical and mental health, as well as by the public at large. The concept of observing the breath and the tingling sensations of the body have been adopted by Gautam Buddha. Kriya yoga and vipassana are the two wings of a spiritual journey. If one is weak you cannot fly comfortably. God realization and stillness of mind both are important.
Buddha said “It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell. “ Vipassana is the art of conquering yourself.
Paramahansa Yoganandanin the writer of the spiritual classic,“Autobiography of a Yogi”, said “Meditation is the science of God‑realization. It is the most practical science in the world. Most people would want to meditate if they understood its value and experienced its beneficial effects. The ultimate object of meditation is to attain conscious awareness of God, and the soul’s eternal oneness with Him. “
In the teachings of the Zen masters we observed “What we call the body and mind in the Buddha Way is grass, trees and wall rubble; it is wind, rain, water and fire.”
Himalayan spiritual master Amit Ray of Uttarkashi in his book, “Yoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Life Style” said“There are three aspects in yoga, the first one is keeping the body and mind in harmony and healthy. The second one is stilling the mind and the third one is realising the inner sprit. Yoga deals with the first aspect of life. Vipassan is more about the stilling the mind and for the third one you need your own inner grace.”
Ramana Maharshi the master of yoga through self-inquiry mentioned that “self-inquiry is certainly not an empty formula and it is more than the repetition of any mantra. If the inquiry `Who am I?’ were a mere mental Questioning, it would not be of much value. The very purpose of self-inquiry is to focus the entire mind at its source. It is not, therefore, a case of one `I’ searching for another `I’. Much less is self-inquiry an empty formula, for it involves an intense activity of the entire mind to keep it steadily poised in pure Self-awareness.” Self inquiry is the art of knowing yourself.
Sri Aurobindo tried to amalgamate the older religions and said “Eevolution is the method by which it liberates itself; consciousness appears in what seems to be inconscient, and once having appeared is self-impelled to grow higher and higher and at the same time to enlarge and develop towards a greater and greater perfection. Life is the first step of this release of consciousness; mind is the second; but the evolution does not finish with mind, it awaits a release into something greater, a consciousness which is spiritual and supramental. The next step of the evolution must be towards the development of Super-mind and Spirit as the dominant power in the conscious being. For only then will the involved Divinity in things release itself entirely and it become possible for life to manifest perfection.”
Great yogi Ramakrishna Paramhansa taught ceaselessly for fifteen years the basic truths of all religion through parables, metaphors, songs and by his own life. He said “There are pearls in the deep sea, but you must hazard all perils to get them. If you fail to get at them by a single dive, do not conclude that the sea is without them. Dive again and again, and you are sure to be rewarded in the end. So also in the quest for the Lord, if your first attempt to see Him proves fruitless, do not lose heart. Persevere in the attempt, and you are sure to realize Him at last.”
About 2500 years back, Lord Buddha re-established the Vipassana meditation techniques. Vipassana meditation helps effective utilization of mental energy and life force. It brings calmness, happiness and harmony in life. The life energy is not wasted or escaped in the continuous waves of thoughts. True Vipassana meditation provides enough energy to tackle all the problems of our everyday life. In the book Yoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Lifestyle, the Himalayan meditation master Sri Amit Ray of Uttarkashi, explained “Vipassana meditation is an ongoing creative purification process. Observation of the moment-to-moment experience cleanses the mental layers, one after another. Vipassana is searching deeply within, the deeper realities of all experiences. …. Vipassana arises as you pay awareness to the inner and outer experience unfolding at the present moment. Vipassana is not associated with any rigid formula or methods. Whenever you are aware of your mental or physical feelings like tension in the muscles, movement of limbs, stiffness, heat or cold, you have begun to develop special understanding of realities.”
Benefits of Vipassana meditation:
The rewards of meditation of Vipassana are many. It develops patience and liberates from all secondary and the dependences. The achievements of Vipassana can be felt to even the very first meeting. In the Pali language Vipassana means looking from the other side of the river. In Vipassana, you have to think beyond ten-day Vipassana retreat. Objective of Vipassan is to go beyond suffering, beyond the cycle of birth and death.
When you are aware of tension, movement, tautness, heat or cold, you have begun to develop special close understanding. Vipassana meditation strengthens digestion and keeps us free from toxins that clog the body’s channels and prevent the flow of vital energy in the body.
Hindrances in Vipassana Meditations:
There are five hindrances. First is sensual desire, it is the greatest hindrance to Vipassana, practice. Aversion or anger is the second hindrance. Sloth and torpor is the third hindrance. restlessness and worry is the forth hindrance. Skeptical doubt and criticism is the fifth and the last hindrance.
Rapture in Vipassana Meditations:
Mystical bliss, joy and rapture is part of integrated yoga and vipassana. When the mind is concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable and steadies this positive joy arises.
Vipassana Beyond Suffering:
If you practice Vipassana from a true master, you will never feel pain during the practice and after the practice. You will be always filled with joy and exhilaration. Your body will always feel cool, calm, and comfortable. You will always feel great love in the heart region. You will be at extreme mental balance and finally mind itself will come to a complete stop.
The term ‘Yoga Nidra’ is mentioned several times in Puranas in different context. Markandeya Purana, Vishnu Purana, Devi Bhagvat and other scriptures highlight the importance of Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra is very well defined by Adya Sankaracharya in his text Yoga Tadavali. Yoga Nidra means Aware Yogic Sleep. It is a state of conscious Deep Sleep. In Yoga Nidra, you leave the Waking state, go beyond the Dreaming state, and go to Deep Sleep, yet remain awake. Yoga Nidra is a tool for attenuating, and eliminating habit patterns or samskaras, which are not useful. It prepares the mind for spiritual evolution.
Yoga Nidra Kriya Yoga Meditation Technique is not in the traditional Kriya yoga as popularized by Babaji and Paramhansa Yogandana. It is much different from traditional Kriya yoga. The word “Kriya” means “action or movement.’ These meditations that Yogananda’s Babaji did were mind movement exercises.
There are two kinds of meditations, “Passive and Active.” Most teach “passive” meditations. In true Kriya Yoga and Siddha Yoga and Daoism/Taoism one learns “active meditations”. The reason for this is that, “active meditations” create alot of Chi (qi) energy. It is this activating your body and mind and spirit with Chi (qi) that results in one becoming physically energetic and one having what are called the Siddha abilities. (Nirodhanada)
Eight Steps of Traditional Yoga Nidra:
Yoga nidra should be done in a quiet place where no interruptions can take place. A meditation room is ideal. The practitioner lies down on the floor or a firm bed. The surface should be comfortable but not soft so that sleep comes easily.
Lie flat on your back (Savasana) with the body stretched out, the head in straight line with the body, feet apart, arms besides the body and palms of the hands facing up. Be relaxed and comfortable. Now close your eyes. There should be no movement during yoga nidra. Remember you should not sleep, but remain awake all through the session.
So say to yourself: “I will not sleep; I will remain awake.”
Please follow the voice with full awareness and feeling. If your mind is distracted during the practice, do not worry. Just continue the practice.
2. Physical and Mental Relaxation
Take a deep breath and as you breathe in, feel the coolness and calmness spreading throughout the body. As you breathe out, feel your cares and worries flowing out of you. Become aware of the body and relax completely. Relax your body mentally.
Now be aware of the sounds in the room. Allow your hearing to follow the sounds for a few seconds, going from sound to sound, without trying to identify them. Develop awareness of the room itself… the four walls, the ceiling and the floor, and your body lying on the floor or bed. Visualize your body lying down. Feel your body lying on the floor, feel the sensations of your whole body lying down, your whole body lying on the floor.
Say to yourself mentally, “I am going to practice yoga nidra. I will remain awake all through the session.”
Now it is the time to make Sankalpa (resolve). State your affirmation mentally three times with feeling and awareness.
4. Rotation of Consciousness
During these steps, focus your mind on the parts of your body and not on your breath. Relax each part of the body in turn.
During this exercise it is helpful to see your body as an object and your mind as an instrument of your inner spirit directing the flow of prana into your body. As you go through the step of relaxing a specific part of your body, imagine that the prana, the essence of life, is flowing through this part relaxing and revitalizing the whole part, as you inhale and exhale freely.
We will now rotate our consciousness through different parts of the body. Repeat the part in your mind at the same time become aware of that part of the body. Do not concentrate, but remain alert. Become aware of the right hand.
Right hand thumb, second finger, third finger, fourth finger, fifth finger, palm of the hand, back of the hand, lower right arm, upper arm, the shoulder, the armpit, the right side of the torso, the right upper leg, the lower leg, the ankle, the right foot, the right toes.
Left hand thumb, second finger, third finger, fourth finger, fifth finger, palm of the hand, back of the hand, lower left arm, upper arm, the shoulder, the armpit, the left side of the torso, the left upper leg, the lower leg, the ankle, the left foot, the left toes.
Become aware of the right shoulderblade, the left shoulderblade, the right buttock, the left buttock, the spine, the whole back.
Now go the top of the head. Become aware of the top of the head, the forehead, the right eyebrow, the left eyebrow, the space between the eyebrows, the right eye, the left eye, the right ear, the left ear, the nose, the lips, the throat, the right chest, the left chest, the middle of the chest, the navel, the lower belly.
The right leg, the left leg; both legs together. The right arm, the left arm, both arms together. The back of the body, the front of the body, the head, whole body, the whole body, the whole body (repeat one more time).
Are you awake? Repeat to yourself: “I am awake.” Total awareness. Awareness of the whole body. The whole body lying down. See your body lying down. Visualize your body lying down.
Become aware of your breath. Feel the natural rhythm of your breath, feel your natural, spontaneous breath. Do not force the breath; just awareness
5. Awareness of Sensations
Now awaken the feeling of lightness—as if the body is made of cotton.
Your body seems to be floating away from the floor.
Next, Feel the body getting heavy – so heavy, it’s sinking into the floor. Feel the head heavy, the arms, the torso… heavy. Feel the legs heavy and the feet heavy. The whole body is heavy… feel the whole body heavy…sinking into the floor… heavy… heaviness… the whole body is heavy.
Awaken the sensation of heat, the experience of heat.
The whole body is hot.
Now experience bitter cold in the body.
Nowfeel your body becoming alert… you are so alert. Feel yourself become alert… you are awake…you are awake…you are awake.
Yoga nidra is also augmented by incorporating visualization and mediation
There are many different techniques you can use.
This is the final stage of yoga nidra relates to mental relaxation. Generally such images and symbols are chosen for the visualization that has universal significance. To quote a few: the mountain, river, ocean, temple, church, cross, saint, flower etc.
Use your feeling, awareness, emotion and imagination to develop images in your mind.
Vividly visualize yourself in your favorite place
Stay in that situation for few minuses. You mentally get more more and more relaxed.
Now move to next step.
Once again the resolve or sankalpa is intently thought of or even visualized repeat your affirmation mentally 3 times with feeling and emphasis.
Thus, consciously one tries to direct the unconscious mind about the goal in life. This time the unconscious is very susceptible and therefore may accept the suggestion from the conscious mind with more intensity.
8. Return to Full Awareness
Now start taking normal natural breath, spontaneous breath. Now bring your awareness to your body lying stretched out and relaxed on the floor. Be aware of your physical existence. Become aware of the environment, room… the floor, the walls, the ceiling, and the noises in the room. Let your mind become completely external. Don’t make hurry to open your eyes. Lie quietly until your mind is completely awake and externalized. Start moving yourself slowly, stretching yourself. When you are sure you are awaken, open your eyes.
Yoga Nidra and Kriya Yoga Meditation:
Steps of Kriya yoga Yoga Nidra is many way different from traditional yoga nidra. I know, after doing 15 rounds of nada sanchalana, 50 rounds of pawan sanchalana, 60 rounds of shabda sanchalana and 60 rounds of chakra bhedan you will get tired.
These are not Kriya Yoga. These are to keep the mind busy. True kriya yoga is beyond these activities.
According to my yoga master Sri Amit Ray ji of Himalaya, Uttarkashi, “When Yoga nidra and Kriya yoga goes hand in hand you are in the hand of eternal bliss. Kriya yoga without yoga nidra is not effective. If you really want to transform your Samskars (habit patterns) and burn your bad karmas, you must practice Yoga Nidra and Kriya Yoga together in a systematic manner.”
Kriya Yoga is the science of balancing life energy effectively. Kriya yoga is having enormous healing effect. Through its practice, the mind gets engrossed at the 3rd Eye, at the middle point between the eyebrows. It releases person from bondage.
The yogi should mentally slowly chant ‘Om’ 15 times, concentrating just below the navel.
The yogi should mentally chant ‘Om’ 25 times, concentrating on the back of the navel.
The yogi should mentally chant ‘Om’ 35 times, concentrating at the back of the neck.
2nd Kriya ::
The yogi should mentally chant ‘Om’ 15 times, along the imaginary tube of the spine, up and down.
The yogi should mentally chant ‘Om’ 35 times, concentrating on the point between the eyebrows.
3rd Kriya ::
Maha Mudra: Alternatively sit on your one foot, and try to touch your other toe.
3rd Eye Meditation: Imagine a circular light in the forehead. Very slowly do pranava japa along the circumference of the circle. Do this for few minutes and feel the sensations on the forehead and then feel the sensations on whole body.
Practicing letting go is the most important art of yoga and vipassana. How do you take the practice of nowness to the next level so as to see ultimate reality clearly? The answer is: by letting go of conventional knowledge temporarily, which includes letting go of memory. Not only memories from childhood, or yesterday, or one minute ago; not only the memory of our last breath.
In order to gain ultimate knowledge you have to give up, for a time, the labels and concepts of conventional knowledge. Some call this “beginner’s mind.” That means that in order to reach a high level of vipassana insight you must temporarily let go of the names for things, because naming is actually a very subtle form of remembering, a tiny reflex back to the past. But you don’t have to worry that anything will be lost— the memories and names will return as soon as you need them or as soon as you stop the period of intensive practice.
What does it mean to “let go of names”? In order to understand this, let’s take a look at the process of perception as described in Buddhist philosophy. The perceptual process has two parts. Say that you’re looking at a piano. At first you see an unidentified colored shape (this is the initial moment of contact with the object, to which we referred earlier). A split-second later the mind recognizes the name of the object, “piano.” Those two moments occur one right after the other, so quickly that in daily life they’re indistinguishable. But with strong mindfulness and insight it is possible to perceive the initial moment of bare seeing before memory comes up with the name.
The same stages of perception occur whenever you experience a sound, smell, taste or touch. Pure sound-waves are cognized first; in the next moment you recognize the sound. A fragrance is sensed before it is named. The same is true of touches, tastes, and mental phenomena.
The truth is, although you may have general mindfulness, whenever you recognize a sight, sound, etc., you cannot be said to be staying exactly in the present moment, to the highest degree possible. “If we could focus precisely on the present moment,” Achan Sobin wrote, “â€¦ the eye would not be able to identify objects coming into the area of perception. Sound, which merely has the function of entering the eardrum and causing it to vibrate, would not be concretized as speech or music, etc. In fact, it is possible to focus on the split-second between hearing sound and recognizing it in the conventional manner.” (Wayfaring: A Manual for Insight Meditation).
Although it may seem impossible to be clearly aware of a form before recognizing it, this event happens naturally during vipassana practice when mindfulness and insight are very strong. With experience in meditation you will not have to believe or disbelieve, because you will know this firsthand. To know a phenomenon with mindfulness before it is overlaid with concepts is to experience reality as it actually is, in its pristine state.
That does not mean that in daily life you will go around bumping into objects you don’t recognize. Again, conventional perception, along with all the names and concepts necessary for everyday functioning, will be there as soon as you need it. It can be accessed anytime.
But in regard to memory, someone might think, “I cherish my happy memories. Why should I give them up?” Again, your memories will not be permanently erased. You’ll be able to recall a certain event whenever you want to. But the more you train the mind to stay in the present moment, the more you’ll see that clinging to the past and living in the future actually cause suffering. Attachment to pleasant memories makes us long for something that is gone, and this longing is in itself painful. What disappears in vipassana practice are not the memories themselves, but the distress that comes from attaching to them.
In Vipassana, the object of meditation is one’s own consciousness. While we continue to use the breath as an anchor to the present moment, it is no longer the only object (as in other forms of meditation). Instead, we become aware of whatever the most prominent stimulus is in that moment, and we allow that stimulus to be our object. It may be a thought, a feeling, a physical sensation, a sound, a smell, or just about anything else. Whatever it is, we simply notice it without becoming involved in thinking about it. In this sense, we are working toward achieving an objective and non-reactive state of mind. At the same time, Vipassana is not primarily a relaxation technique and we are not trying to flee from reality or go off into a trance. The goal is active and objective observation of our subjective experience, without attachment.
In terms of actual practice, try to find a quiet place where people, phones, and other distractions will not be an issue. Wear comfortable clothing and consider taking off your shoes. Sit either on the floor (perhaps on a cushion) or in a straight back chair. Place your hands on your knees or folded in your lap. Sit up straight and close your eyes. Take two or three deep breaths and begin to focus on the present moment. Use your breathing to anchor you to the here-and-now. As you continue, notice the most prominent stimulus, whatever it is, without engaging it. Try to sit still and maintain focus for 10 minutes. Just as you are not reacting impulsively to the thoughts or feelings that you have, do not react impulsively to physical discomforts as they arise. For instance, if your nose itches, do not immediately reach up to scratch it. If you want, you can choose to scratch your nose. Or, if you want, you can choose just to let it be. Whatever you decide, act in mindfulness and with great intention.