“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” – Albert Einstein
Science is defined as, ‘a systematically organized body of knowledge on a particular subject’.
Meditation is perhaps the oldest and greatest science. The teachings have existed for many thousands of years organized as a systematic approach to harmonizing the body, mind and emotions with the goal being eventual transcendence of the mind and the emergence of higher states of consciousness (known as super-consciousness). Meditation is not exclusive to any one religion or path but rather is a spiritual practice and as such, is meant to facilitate one’s awareness of oneself as spiritual being. Contemporary scientific investigation is now documenting the far reaching physical, personal and collective benefits of regular meditation practice.
Yoga science, the source of meditation teaching, is gaining more and more recognition as a body of profound knowledge. Its roots are in the ancient Vedas – the oldest of world scripture. Some estimate 6,000 to 8,000 years old and others date as far back as 10,000 years. The Vedas contain a vast array of information that was only written down, translated and understood on a larger scale this past century. Since antiquity this enormous storehouse of information was passed on purely as an oral tradition from teacher to student. The Vedas contain symbolism and hidden meaning veiling profound truths. They were created during the declining portion of last Golden age (Sat Yuga) as a vehicle to transmit higher knowledge to subsequent civilizations so it would not be lost. The Rishis (seers) who recorded the Vedas knew of the impending dark age that was approaching but also knew that there would be a cyclical return to an enlightened age in the distant future and there would be people of higher mind who would intuitively grasp the keys to unlock the hidden meaning. As the mystery of the Vedas are understood and revealed there is an entire range of spiritually based science and knowledge covering everything from health to government being resurrected and made available.
When most westerners hear the term ‘yoga’ they think of hatha yoga, commonly known as the system of poses or postures (asanas). This particular portion of yoga science is meant as a preliminary step to harmonize the energies of the physical body so the eventual quieting of the mind and subsequent meditation practices can ensue. However, hatha yoga, according to scholars is a fairly recent development evolving much later than the original Vedic texts – perhaps just a few hundred years old. As time goes on, those who are practicing hatha yoga will glean the deeper philosophy of yoga science. The word yoga means to ‘yoke or join together’ referring to the merging of the individual self with divine consciousness – that is the goal of yoga practice. A recent documentary film entitled, “Awake!”, the life of the great teacher Paramahansa Yogananda, had an apropos statement in it referring to the potential body obsession many ‘yoga’ advocates fall into, “Yoga is not about flat abs (and fashionable outfits)!” Indeed as the depth of yoga science becomes more and more understood, the core and profundity of the teachings will ultimately be recognized. Yoga has different aspects with different emphasis including Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga and many others but all lead to the same ultimate truth.
In the previous sutras, the importance ofthe state referred to as superconsciousness and the practice ofsuperconscious meditation is emphasized. Discovering how to recognize and access superconsciousness is facilitated through the regular practice of superconscious meditation. Yoga science teaching provide the clearest and most effective instruction for moving through the layers of the mind as we progress in our meditation pracitce.
As a daily practice for de-stressing and spiritual anchoring this can be the single most important thing you can do for yourself. There are currently 100’s of studies detailing the vast benefits of regular meditation practice from immune boosting, better sleep, eliminating addictions, reduced depression and anxiety, more compassion, slowing down the aging process, effects on overall well-being to name just a few. There is even research reporting that a collective field is created when a number of people meditate together and has measurable effects in reduced crime rates in the vicinity. People close to you benefit from your increasing centeredness and life naturally flows more smoothly and effortlessly as superconscious levels are experienced. (If you are not clear about superconsciousness go back and reread sutra #11).
Make an appointment with yourself for your practice and find time every day to devote to this most essential routine. The best time for meditation is usually before sunrise if your schedule permits. If you need to, go to bed a little earlier and arise earlier so that you can allow 20-45 minutes, before your day starts, for your practice. Eat a light dinner at least 3 hours before bed the night before and avoid alcohol or caffeine so that your sleep is deep and your mind is as clear as possible for your early morning meditation session – this can make an enormous difference if you experience ‘heaviness’ upon awakening. If you are familiar with Ayurveda then follow the *Sattvic* dietary recommendations. A Sattvic diet is conducive to a physiology that supports a balanced body chemistry and a clear mind in order to enhance meditation practice.
Start slow. If you are new to meditation 5-10 minutes to begin with is fine. Surrendered prayer or reading devotional or inspirational literature can be useful too during this time, especially when the mind is resistant to quieting. Just make the time and sit no matter what – don’t get frustrated – eventually meditation becomes something you are drawn to, not as an escape, but as a profound opportunity to experience your essence of being – superconsciousness. Using a guided meditation audio in the beginning is alright but eventually your goal is to be self-directed. Meditation music as well as any external distractions should also be avoided when one internalizes attention. There are even Apps now to help beginning meditators. As preliminary supportive tools these are fine if they help prepare, quiet and calm the mind. However, the inner silence is where our attention is ultimately directed.
How to Practice Superconscious Meditation
1. Regulate your breath. Turn your attention to the inhalation and exhalation. Breath from your belly (diaphragmatic breathing) making the length of your inhalation and exhalation approximately equal. Do not force or strain. Simple, slow, rhythmic breathing is the objective. Maintain this breath awareness throughout you meditation session.
2. Feel grounded to the earth. It is important when we meditate that we make conscious contact with the earth. We are temporary residents of these physical bodies and of this earth. Our bodies are made of the substance of the earth and stars and are akin to transmission towers on this planet. We are as much apart of nature as every other living thing on this planet and just as involved in all its cycles. Our bodies are conduits through which a *vast cosmic cycle* of energy flows from many dimensions of space and time, the stars, our galaxy, our sun, our planets, our moon, and our earth. Our eyes can only perceive 1/10 billionth of the total information that rides on this electromagnetic spectrum of energy.
Try this: If you have been sitting cross-legged for meditation try putting your feet flat on the floor and instead of having the earth energy go right up into your spine, allow it to flow through the soles of your feet. This way the earth energy is refined as it travels through various meridians along the legs before it enters the spinal pathway. This can help you feel more stable, present, grounded and less ‘spacey’. Being dreamy, spacey or ungrounded is to be avoided. True meditation is a conscious-alert-aware state, keenly perceptive and highly functional.
3. Invoke or acknowledge your relationship as one with the infinite. Start your meditation sessions with some kind of acknowledgement, invocation and awareness of the ever-presence of the Infinite, Supreme being. Also acknowledge your teacher/s if you have any, at the beginning of the meditation. If you pray, pray with surrendered devotion not as a petition but rather for awareness of your real nature as pure being.
4. Direct attention to the spiritual eye, stay focused and still. The spiritual eye, also known as the third eye, by location at the centre of the forehead corresponds to the prefrontal lobes of the brain. This is a very importantarea ofthe brain as it is the seat of higher order thinking, concentration, focus, the executive functions of the brain. Therefore try to keep your attention there when you meditate. When the eyes are focused on one point and held steady, the steady gaze will contribute to steady concentration. If you are having trouble concentrating when you are meditating, pay attention to where your eyes are focusing. When your gaze drops below the horizon, you tend towards more distracted, day-dreaming and potentially subconscious states. If you are falling asleep when you meditate keep your gaze up, as if you are looking up and out through that point at the centre of your forehead with eyelids closed. If you see internal visions, faces, geometric patterns, flowing colours or glowing light, no matter what the phenomena, keep directing your awareness ‘through or beyond’ to the source. If your body is restless, just keep redirecting it to be still. Every time you move your brain is stimulated to a degree. Therefore, being physically still is important but not to the point of repressing the natural need to make occasional shifts for comfort.
5. Use a mantra. Introduce a mantra “mentally listened to” with inhalation and exhalation. The inhalation and exhalation should be approximately the same length. There should be no pauses between inhalation and the exhalation. Do not mentally repeat, or repeat out loud, but rather ‘listen’ to it in your mind. The purpose of the mantra is, with focused repetition, to eventually allow the thoughts to settle so that you can experience pure awareness beyond thought. A widely used Sanskrit mantra is hong-sau. For example, mentally listen to “hong” as you inhale, “sau” as you exhale.
6. When the mind quiets, disregard the mantra. Rest in the calm alert (Superconscious) state for as long as you can. It is in that state that the healing occurs and that the transformation process is accelerated. Superconsciousness is tangible. It may take some time, but when you reach it, you will know when you experience it. It is a profound quiet thoughtless state – pure awareness. It is already present within you but clouded by mental impressions and subconscious conditioning. It is also referred to as the fourth state of consciousness, from which you witness the other three states.
7. Before concluding, expand your awareness to embrace infinite space and radiate compassionate good-will to all beings everywhere.
8. End your meditation session with deep gratitude and appreciation.
*Sattvic* foods are soothing, nourishing and promote andmaintain a quiet, steady mind as well as help to sharpen your intellect and give you a greater sense of empathy. Sattvic foods are vegetarian and do not include foods derived from animals that have been harmed in any way. It is important that foods are grown naturally and do not contain preservatives, artificial flavours, or additives. -Yoga Basics