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Success In Meditation Depends Upon Yama-Niyama

Success In Meditation Depends Upon Yama-Niyama

To begin a meditation, the very first thing you must do is get into the right posture. That is actually the third step of the yoga path in the Yoga Sutras-asana, posture: We sit, we keep the spine erect and the body absolutely still; we do not move a muscle; and yet we are completely relaxed, with no strain; and the eyes are uplifted with the attention focused at the Kutastha or Christ Centre, the seat of the spiritual eye. It sounds pretty basic, doesn't it?

But think about what has to take place in order for us to achieve that. First of all there is the skeletal system - think of how many large and small bones have to be in alignment to hold us in that position. Then we have the muscles, tendons, and ligaments - hundreds of opposing and complementary muscles working in synch. The muscles are activated by electrical signals coming through the nerves and chemical signals (neuropeptides) through the endocrine system.

And what activates those nerves and neuropeptides? The brain-influenced by whatever thoughts, feelings, and emotions are uppermost in our consciousness.

Cause of Mental Restless - Ness: "Meannesses of The Heart"
What then creates the restlessness and stress that is the enemy of meditation? Sri Yukteswarji had a term for it. He referred to "the meannesses of the heart." Those "meannesses" are all of the mindsets that are petty, constricting, narrow, tightening - that contract our

''Asana, posture, is much more of a psychological and spiritual matter than we normally think. The physical component is just the tip of the iceberg."

Asana, posture, is much more of a psychological and spiritual matter than we normally think. The physical component is just the tip of the iceberg.

Underneath, there are all these psychological, emotional, and spiritual issues going on, which influence how the prana, the life force, flows in the body. And this is what determines whether or not we will be able to sit in the correct meditation posture without tension, but perfectly still, and most importantly, with the eyes and attention uplifted to the Christ Centre.

sense of identity into the narrow little ego. Those represent the real enemy we are fighting in meditation.

Now, think of this in relation to yama and niyama: We will not be able to sit still, or deeply relax, or keep our mind on the goal of meditation, if we are harbouring thoughts of wanting to hurt another person - in other words, if ahimsa is not there. Or if we are not transmuting the creative (sexual) force in the body, using on a regular basis the marvellous techniques in the SRF

"without developing yama and niyama, you may struggle for years without mastering even the rudimentary necessities: sitting still, achieving relaxation, keeping the mindfocused on the goal of meditation."

Satsang Lessons, so that we govern it rather than being enslaved by it (brahmacharya). Or if, lacking the quality of satya, we are harbouring dishonesty, or lies, in our relationships with others, or with ourselves. Or if we are gripped by greed for or obsession about some possession, something that we cannot relinquish from our consciousness even long enough for our period of meditation - in other words, if we are not practising asteya and aparigraha (non-covetousness and non-stealing).

Sri Yukteswarji puts this so plainly in The Holy Science. First he points out the importance of observing yama and niyama.

Then he writes: 'Hence bondage disappears. The eight bondages or snare" - that is, the mean nesses of the heart - "are hatred, shame, fear, grief, condemnation, race prejudice, pride of family, and smugness." In the next sutra he says that removal of these eight bondages "leads to magnanimity of heart," and concludes: "Thus one becomes fit to practice asana" - and the other steps of the yoga science that follow: pranayama (life-force control), pratyahara (interiorization), and so forth.

So to anyone who thinks moral rules are not important for the meditator - in other words, "Just give me the techniques for going into samadhi" -think again. Without developing yama and niyama, you may struggle for years without mastering even the rudimentary necessities: sitting still, achieving relaxation, keeping the mind focused on the goal of meditation.

** This talk will continue in the next issue of Yogoda Satsanga with practical
suggestions to integrateyama and niyama into our daily lives.




About the Spiritual Author

Debolina Choudhury

Swami Chidananda Giri has been a monk of the Yogoda Satsanga/Self-Realization Fellowship for more than thirty-five years. He is a member of the SRF Board of Directors and serves as assistant to the editor-in-chief of SRF publications.


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