The term ‘Yoga’ is derived from Sanskrit and means in the English equivalent ‘to yoke’ or ‘to bind’.
The term ‘Field’ in Sanskrit is kshetra, and in English means ‘the zone of influence of a force’.
The term ‘practice’ means ‘to do’, ‘perform repeatedly’, ‘an act of going round or through a routine’.
Meditation is ‘a mental process in which is disclosed the contents of the mind with the purpose of integrating that content in such a way that it forms a useful and functionally efficient pattern’. When this occurs, the mind runs cool, smoothely & quietly
Steps of Meditation
The process of Meditation begins by first of all, ‘choosing to meditate’.
The next step is the Withdrawal of consciousness from the things & events & relationships of the external world.
Then by Concentration on a chosen subject, the contents of the mind are integrated with this chosen central subject. This integration process is what is called Meditation.
Meditation in the Sanskrit and other languages does not mean separation from, or elimination of, the mind’s contents. This suppression/elimination is a great misnomer and a tremendous distortion of what Meditation is; propagated widely today in the shallow ‘mindfulness’ teachings of our current period.
Finally when this integration, Meditation, is complete, consciousness suspends from identification with the content & motions of the mind, and by extension may transcend the mind’s content & motions completely. This suspension and transcendence is what is correctly called Contemplation.
The three stages of Concentration, Meditation & Contemplation are what is called in Sanskrit “Samyama”, translating as ‘the seed is dead’. Samyama implies that the seed (or seeds) of thought previously unintegrated and running about is now dead in its motion modality. This is the stillness which comes from applying Samyama.
Now today, the teaching of Samyama has largely been lost to the Yoga practitioner, and is never practised, despite the fact that the term is used extensively throughout the principle Yoga practice manual ‘Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras’. Why should this be so?
Original Purpose of Yoga
The original purpose of Yoga is to reconnect, bind, yoke, the individual egoic consciousness of man with the Absolute Consciousness of Infinite Reality. This reconnection by implication indicates a prior schism, a departure, an isolation, from a wider field of consciousness than man in his usual behaviour has access to, or operates from. Man’s consciousness in its everyday egoic, private, selfish mode, “every man for himself”, has been obvious from the beginning of recorded time, and is no less so identified in our current period.
The process of Samyama would if it were practised release man’s identified consciousness from its particular desires and cravings and limited trajectory. And yet Samyama is not practised. Why not? We might say that there is little profit in such a practice. Why is this? Provided our mind does not have to be efficiently engaged in a clear productive purpose, the mind tends to merely amuse itself, play about and do various activities.
Certain philosophical schools say that “doing things is easy, but thinking, true thinking, is difficult.” As a general rule most men are content with doing a certain thing, sometimes an infinite number of times, not unlike the invention of the light bulb attempted 1000 times, in the hope that after sufficient attempts, success is achieved. We are content with a lifetime, or as certain traditions suspect, many, many lifetimes, to achieve our chosen aim. The mind in this inefficient serial mode is in anguish and suffering from its disintegrated & disturbed contents. The aim of meditation is to remedy this inefficient mental activity.
What stops the Choice to integrate the Mind?
Today, the appetite for mental input is veracious. Man’s physical material appetites are extensive; food, shelter, property etc, but with modern electronic gadgetry his mental appetite has now entered quantum overdrive. Is it any wonder that without proper organisation within the mind, that the mind has become a house of cards, and in many cases, largely unconscious, has begun the slow inevitable descent into mental breakdown. Geographically this seems obvious in the developed world, but is apparent wherever the stimulus input to the minds’ of individuals has become unassimilable by those individuals.
How to Reintegrate
How does Classical Yoga deal with this reintegration process, and how is the approach different to the many other Yogas practised today?
Firstly we will say that the approach is by hierarchy, the very way suggested in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Secondly if we are to be successful, we are to know what we are doing in all of the stages and ensuring that we are completing the stages correctly, and integrating each stage with its predecessor and with that stage which follows. A haphazard approach will give haphazard results. A precise approach will bring us to our desired end, we will be able to apply Samyama fully, and consequently arrive at the aim set up by Patanjali at the beginning of his Yoga Sutras; “Yoga is the cessation of the modifications of the mind substance.”
For those who practice Classical Yoga, each stage requires competency. Each individual works at their own level and capacity. Each practice run-through applies all the stages and the result of attainment will be in accordance with proficiency on that day. We do not practice austerities or postures for 20 or 30 years before we take the step onto the higher and more refined yogic techniques & stages. Each practice of 2 hours applies all the stages, and where those stages are applied competently, to that degree will our Yoga practice bring us the ‘union’. Where we practice well we will arrive at the reflexive awareness whereby consciousness is unified with its Absolute Source; consciousness becomes reflexively aware of itself.
It would be trite and simplistic to say that we are practising Yoga when we are not practising Yoga. Either we are applying the rules of the discipline, the whole game, or we are not. For an introduction to the practice of Classical Yoga, book an appointment & begin your transformation now >