When we consider the ancient spiritual science of Yoga, the original practice of meditation, we see that meditation is level seven out of eight levels. There are six different steps in the process of personal development before one is ready to approach the practice of meditation.
Most are unable to dive deep enough into meditation because of the immense noise of a busy mind, an over-stimulated ego and a confused mental process.
Following, are the eight branches of practice that lead towards enlightenment and what yogi’s have traditionally followed for effective, long-lasting transformation and a blessed moment of meditation.
1. Purification (Yamas)
2. Spiritual teachings (Niyamas)
3. Asanas (Hatha Postures)
4. Pranayama (Breath)
5. Ego and Desires (Control of the senses ~ Pratyahara)
8. Samadhi ~ a state of constant bliss
You can see that after purification, study, exercise and management of the thought field, emotional behavior and desires, and the ability to concentrate so that the mind is empty and quiet, that one is prepared for the practice of meditation.
Much emphasis is placed upon the practice of meditation without any of the other branches put into practice. Learning to breathe, learning how to stretch properly and learning how to eat correctly are paramount in connection with deep meditation.
Let’s review each of the steps of yoga from a casual perspective.
Purification is used when we need rest and must take time to nurture our body to heal. Purification practices such as fasting, moments of silence, nutritional supplement programs, massage, spinal adjustments, etc are all expressions of purification. Many practice this branch of Yoga without realizing they are participating in an ancient, spiritual, transformational process.
Spiritual teachings include things such as astrology, a spiritual guru, an author that has appeal, music, poetry, I Ching, feng shui, etc. Spiritual teachings at this level are thought streams from spiritual masters that bring an expansion to one’s mind.
Asanas are the postures that most people refer to as “yoga”. The postures are one small part of the practice of Yoga, as you can see. Asana’s have a powerful connection to the seven chakras in the physical body system that directly correlate to the seven major glands, hence, the importance of stretching in certain ways. Through a daily practice of stretching the glands, vital juices are secreted into the blood system increasing vitality and strengthening the immune system, an important component to the process of greater awareness.
Pranayama is the art of breathing. You can tell a lot about a person in the way that they breathe. If one is anxious, fearful, or greedy, then the breathing is shallow and high in the chest. Short breaths with deep sighs are indications of sadness or depression. In Pranayama, one is taught the method of controlling breath. If one has control over their breath, then they have control over their thoughts, their emotional nature and ultimately, their reality. There is a big impact on the entire being when one learns to breath naturally, automatically, deeply and slowly, consciously.
Ego and Desires (Pratyahara), are the demons, blessings, nightmares and karma. Most of humanity lives attached to their moods, their desires, their preferences, their attachments to people, judgments, jealousy, victimhood, competition, comparing and challenges with low self-esteem all perceived through the senses, distorted by blocked emotions. It takes a long time to work through this branch of yoga. It helps if you have a guru at this point of maturation and continuously practice completion.
Concentration, branch number 6, requires one to completely stop everything and come to the present moment. It is the ability to sit with a calm mind and feel completely peaceful inside. At this stage, one is detached from all outward motivations, such as desire, greed, fear and lust. This level of awareness goes beyond time and space. Life flows effortlessly and magically from this place of quiet concentration as it leads the way, clearly and confidently with magical serendipity.
Meditation, real meditation arrives when we have learned to release control and have decided to surrender to a higher, Divine force.
Bliss / Ecstasy / Samadhi comes with the ripples of ecstasy elevating one’s reality into the experience of joy in each moment combined with an equanimous state in how one relates. It’s very different from the way the rest of humanity moves through life.
Ahhhhhh, the golden path of Yoga.
There is nothing more powerful than the spiritual teachings of Yoga.