Self-Realization through Yoga Meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra

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A Program for Progress
in Meditation

from Meditation and Its Practice (Chapter 6)
by Swami Rama

This program is the result of thorough examination and experimentation by the tradition of the sages. Many sincere students of meditation have experienced its benefits. If you really want to attain the highest state of meditation, you should commit yourself to following this system, which is very simple:

a) Learn to sit at the same time every day, and allow this to become a habit.
b) Develop a good sitting posture for meditation.

There are only a few postures that are appropriate for meditation. These include sukhasana, siddhasana, and swastikasana. Choose one position and regularly practice that same position for meditation. The body will adjust accordingly.

Guidelines and Goals for the First Month

The first one or two months should be devoted to attaining a still, comfortable posture. Meditative posture should be steady and comfortable. Steadiness of posture means that you are able to sit still and keep the head, neck and trunk aligned. Allowing the posture to become comfortable means that you are not uneasy or disturbed in any way. The cushion that you use as a meditation seat should be neither too high nor too hard, and it should never be a spongy, unsteady cushion.

For the first month, you may use the support of a wall to help you tell when you are keeping your head, neck and truck in a straight line. After that, learn to sit independently of such support. A very good meditation seat can be made from a wooden plank or board covered with two blankets that are folded into quarters.
At the first level of practice, obstacles may arise on several dimensions: First, the body may shake, perspire or become numb. Next, the subtler muscles, such as the cheeks or eyes, twitch. One should learn to ignore all this. At first, the body rebels when you try to discipline it. If your throat gets dry while you are doing meditation, you can take a few sips of water. In certain cases, you may notice that there is excess saliva in the mouth. Both of these symptoms are unhealthy and may be due to overeating or consuming bad food.

When you begin to sit in meditation, you should not try to sit for a long time. To start, 15-20 minutes will be sufficient. Every third day, you can expand your practice by three minutes. Gradually, when your posture becomes steady, the time will easily extend itself. Developing a still, steady posture will bring you great joy. Discomfort is not a good sign; massage your toes, legs, and thighs with your hands when you get up from your meditation seat.

Pray to the Lord that your meditation will continue to become better and will create the motivation to again sit in meditation, so that you await your meditation time with great desire. But remember that you are praying to the Lord of Life, who is seated in the inner chamber of your own being; this sort prayer strengthens your awareness. Do not pray for anything else except to strengthen your meditation. Selfish prayers feed the ego and make the aspirant weak and dependent. Prayer should be God-centered and not ego-centered.


As you begin your meditation, survey and observe your body mentally: your eyes are gently closed, your teeth are gently touching, your lips are sealed, and your hands are places lightly on the knees.

Complete this survey of your body systematically, from the crown of the head downward. In the forehead, let there be no tension; in the cheeks and jaws, no tension; in the neck and shoulders, no tension. From the arms to the fingertips there should be no tension.

Mentally return to the shoulders, allowing no tension. Let there be no tension in the chest. Take several deep breaths when you begin and mentally surrender and let go. When you come to the chest, inhale and exhale within your comfortable capacity. This will help you to relax your body. Do not make suggestions to your body but rather, survey it and then let your attention move on to the abdominal area. Survey the pelvic area, the hips, thighs, knees, calves, ankles, and feet.

Now inhale and exhale at least five to ten times. Visualize your body and again systematically come back through the body in the same order, returning to the crown of the head. Survey your body thoroughly; if you find that a certain part of the body has any aches or pain, you can discover that and gently ask your mind to go to that spot to heal that aching part. The mind definitely has the inner capacity to correct and heal such discomfort; do not doubt that.

Understanding the Mind

The mind is the master of the body, breath, and senses, though it is, charged by the power of the Center of Consciousness (the individual soul). All our thinking processes, emotional power, capacity for analysis, and the functioning of the different modifications of mind are due to the power of the soul. One simply has to become aware of this fact, that the mind is in direct control of the senses, breath, and body. It is the mind that influences the senses and causes them to function in the external world. It is mind that desires to perceive the world through the senses and to conceptualize and categorize those sensory perceptions. The mind stores such impressions in the unconscious, the storehouse of merits and demerits, and then it recalls them whenever it needs them.

All sadhanas (spiritual practices), techniques, and disciplines are actually means to train the mind. And the foremost part of the training is to make the mind aware that Reality lies beyond itself, and that is the immortality of the soul. The mind is a separate, individual entity, but it does not have a separate existence; it exists only because of the existence of the soul.

The mind is the finest instrument that we possess. If it is understood well, the mind can be helpful in our sadhana; however, if the mind is not well-ordered and disciplined, it can distract and dissipate all our potentials.

Anything within the domain of the mind can be healed by the mind, once one knows his or her deeper nature. When the aspirant becomes aware of this fact, he or she can willfully heal or prevent the occurrence of those diseases that have their basis in malignancy.

There are four distinct functions of mind: manas, buddhi, ahamkara, and chitta. These four should be understood and their functioning should be coordinated. Manas is the lower mind, through which the mind interacts with the external world and takes in sensory impressions and data. Manas also has the tendency to doubt and question, which can cause great difficulties if this tendency becomes excessive.

Buddhi is the higher aspect of mind, the doorway to inner wisdom. It has the capacity to decide, judge, and make cognitive discriminations and differentiations. It can determine the wiser of the two courses of action, if it functions clearly and if manas will accept its guidance.

Ahamkara is the sense of “I-ness,” the individual ego, which feels itself to be a distinct, separate entity. It provides identity to our functioning, but ahamkara creates our feeling of separation, pain, and alienation as well.

Chitta is the memory bank, which stores impressions and experiences, and while it can be very useful, chitta can also cause difficulties if its functioning is not coordinated with the others. These functions are described in greater detail in The Art of Joyful Living.

Just as an aspirant should care for and pay attention to the different functions of mind (manas, chitta, buddhi, and ahamkara), which have different abilities and duties, so also should the student take care of his external behavior, so that he does not acquire the diseases that are transmitted through unhealthy food, sex, or imbalanced ways of living.

Cleanliness is valuable, but it should not become obsessive, because in order to function effectively, the immune system also requires a healthy mind. When we talk about purity of mind, that is actually achieved by ridding ourselves of negative, passive, and slothful mental tendencies. Such a healthy mind acquires self-confidence, and then buddhi judges, discriminates, and decides things on time.

To establish coordination among the various modifications of mind, one has to learn to watch the mind’s functioning through our actions and speech, and at the same time, observe the thinking process within. Ignorance is the mother of all diseases, discomfort, pains, and miseries. A purified, quiet, and serene mind is positive and healthy. The process of meditation helps the mind to remain a useful and constructive instrument.

Such a clear mind, which has been trained to become purified and one-pointed, can in many cases also heal others. Self-healing is one of the natural physical capabilities and tendencies of each person’s mind. For example, suppose that a person is peeling an apple and cuts his of her finger, so that it begins to bleed. You’ll notice that the cells of the body act as if they have a kind of understanding, and they function in the cut to protect the injured and destroyed cells. In time, according to the health of the body’s immune system, the body heals itself. But in a body whose mental and emotional processes are not coordinated, something may allow excessive cell growth there, and may eventually create a growth. Due to such a lack of coordination and balance at a subtle level of mental functioning, some diseases occur and disturb our sadhana.
I believe that if we become emotionally attached to the external objects of the world, but remain unable to unfold ourselves and our highest potential, then life is incomplete and we become victims of discontent and dissatisfaction. Therefore, a student should apply all his or her present resources to make the body, breath, senses, and mind into healthy tools, so that sadhana is accomplished.

When you attain a state of meditation, in which the body has become perfectly still and quiet, and it does not move, shake or tremble, and muscle twitches no longer occur, then there is a feeling of unusual joy, which is quite different from other joys of worldly experience. Then you can begin to watch your breath, and develop the next state of meditation.

Remember that practicing Breath Awareness is very important and vital for meditation. Observe your breathing to see if you notice any problems with the four common faults we discussed earlier – jerkiness in the breath, shallowness, noise or extended pauses.

The body should be still, with the head, neck and trunk aligned, so that your breathing can flow smoothly.

Practice for the Second Month

In the second month, you can extend your practice as follows:

After you have done your stretching and limbering exercises, then do your breathing exercises. To relax the gross muscles, physical exercises are healthy, but to create a deeper level of relaxation in the subtle muscles and the nervous system, breathing exercises are even more helpful.

Even Breathing and Alternate Nostril Breathing are very healthy preparatory practices, but during meditation itself, the only exercise that is recommended is Breath Awareness. Breath is one of the great focal points of the mind. The mind and the breath are inseparable associates, and it is easy and spontaneous for the mind to focus on the breath.

As we said earlier, in the beginning, for the first month, the aspirant should focus the mind on the flow of the breath, watching and observing the breath and seeking to remove the four main problems with breath. In the next step of breathing practice, the mind should be carefully focused on the exercise described below.


This will be a delightful experience for the student, but remember that you will experience this delightful and pleasant state only if you do not jump from an awareness of bodily posture to breath awareness. If you fist learn to make the posture steady, still, and comfortable, this experience will become very delightful.
This particular exercise is very subtle; it is finer, more advanced, and more refined that the other experiences you have had in Breath Awareness. In our research laboratory, we have had extensive experience with this exercise and it has also been the focus of experiments done for thousands of years by the line of sages and teachers.

Inhale as though you are breathing from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, without creating any disturbances in the breath. Exhale as though you are exhaling to the base of the spine. It will be helpful if you can visualize three cords: in the center, the centralis canalis, and on the sides, ida and pigal. (Ida and pingala are two of the main nadis described earlier.)

Inhale and exhale through the centralis canalis, which is the finest, milky white tube. Feel the subtle current of energy that flows between the medulla oblongata (at the base of the brain) and the pelvic plexus. Observe your mind and see how many times it becomes distracted. The moment the mind is distracted, you will find that there is a slight jerk or an irregularity in the breath. During this practice, it is recommended that you continue the gentle flow of the breath without jerks, noise, shallowness or extended pauses.

After you inhale and exhale with awareness of the spine, you next become aware of the breath as it comes and goes through the nostrils. You may notice that one nostril seems blocked and the other may seem to be more open. You can easily inhale through one but not the other. In such cases, pay attention to the blocked nostril, and you may be surprised to notice that in a few seconds’ time, the blocked nostril has opened.

For example, in this manner you might first pay attention to the right nostril and when it has become open and easy to breathe through, you then pay attention to the other nostril, in order to open it. If you practice attention this systematically, it will not take you much time to develop control over the flow of the breath.

The breath and mind are twin laws of life: they are very close to each other and very easily influence each other. Although they both have a separate existence, they register each other’s influence. We are trying to establish the awareness that the flow of the breath can be changed by choice, through simple attention of mind. Soon you will find that the moment your thinking changes, the breath also switches.

After experimenting with the electrical potentials associated with the both nostrils, the sages discovered that these two aspects of breath have different natures. Breathing through the left side has a cooling effect, while the right-sided breath has a warming effect.

According to this advanced Science of Breath, when you notice that one nostril is more active, during that time, one of the tattvas (subtle elements of the physical body) are active and one of them becomes most prominent, which of course creates a disturbance in the mind. This is what causes the alteration in the flow of the breath. The tattvas, or physical elements, are affected by the flow of the breath through the left and right nostril, and vice versa. However, once you gain control over the breath, it can also give you control over the changes in the tattvas, according to your discrimination and concentration as a student of meditation. This is a profound science discussed in much greater detail in Path of Fire and Light.

Creating a Meditative State of Mind: Awakening Sushumna

Now, let us go on to the next step: the process of making the mind calm and joyous, so that the mind experiences delight in practicing meditation. This method is called sushumna awakening. The aspirant who has the patience to proceed according to this program will surely benefit. Those who are “economy readers” will probably read through this description without ever practicing it, and they will gain only a glimpse of this process. May God bless them and hopefully someday they will also walk on this path of light.

To begin the process of sushumna awakening, the meditator is prepared to focus the mind on the breath as it is felt between the two nostrils. Mind you, this is not a focus on the top of the nostrils; it is not trataka (an external gaze). The goal is to focus awareness on the flow of the breath, where it can be perceived at the nostrils on inhalation and exhalation. When you focus the mind on the center between the nostrils, you will soon discover that both nostrils are flowing freely. When both nostrils flow freely, that is called sandhya, the wedding of the sun and the moon, or between pingala and ida. This is a delightful moment, in which neither worry, fear nor other negative thought can distract the mind. However, it is important to realize that, because students do not have much experience and practice in creating this state, it does not usually last and is difficult to maintain for a very long time.

When one regularly prepares to focus the mind on the center between the two nostrils, morning and evening, he will find that the mind easily attains a state of joy. Then, the student becomes eager to again attain this joy and looks forward to his of her meditation all day. When both nostrils flow freely, it means that one is inhaling and exhaling through both nostrils simultaneously, which is the sign of sushumna awakening. Once this experience can be maintained for five minutes, the student has crossed a great barrier, and the mind has attained some one-pointedness. Then, the mind becomes focused inward. Two to three months should be devoted to this kriya or practice.

The Conscious Mind

The conscious mind is that part of the mind which functions during the waking state. It is merely a small fragment of the totality of the mind. Our educational system – whether at home, in school or in the colleges and universities - has no systematic program that teaches us how to really understand and become aware of the whole of the mind, especially the unconscious mind. The small part of mind that is cultivated by our educational system, from our childhood on, is merely the conscious mind.

The conscious mind employs and relies on ten senses to collect data for it from the external world of objects. These consist of five subtle cognitive senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch) and five gross active senses (the hands, feet, the power of speech, and the organs of reproduction and elimination.)

We commonly know only a little about how to educate the small conscious aspect of mind. The sages, however, with the assistance of deeper meditative methods, learned to dive deeply into the inner recesses of the unconscious mind and then, to make use of it and its capacities in an orderly way. These sages and great ones are able to accomplish that with a simple, systematic method of meditation. Most human beings continue to operate on or function barely above the level of the brute, because they do not know how to gain access into the deeper aspects of the mind. That is why we do not become aware of our deeper personalities.

There are many problems and obstacles to overcome, in order to help the ordinary mind to understand itself. The mind usually remains clouded, confused, and undisciplined in the external world, where everything seems to move and change. Because the mind itself is confused, even learning how to collect data correctly, or accurately perceive the external world, is a serious problem for the ordinary mind.

However, those who are meditators learn to purify the mind and make the mind one-pointed. For them, it then becomes possible to collect the data and impressions exactly as they are. Such a person sees things clearly, while in contrast, the clouded mind remains distorted and dissipated.

With the help of meditation, the conscious mind can be trained to from a new habit. The personality can be transformed when one learns to let go of the habitual thoughts arising in the conscious mind. Then, the next step is to learn to witness the thoughts going on in your mental train, practicing and learning to remain undisturbed, unaffected and uninvolved. Another three to four months of regular meditative practice will allow you enough time to learn to deal with the conscious aspect of the mind.

Sometimes people feel that they have perfect control over their minds, but that is not accurate, because even if they control the conscious mind, they cannot control the unknown, unconscious mind, which is extensive. The unconscious is a vast reservoir of the impressions resulting from our deeds, actions, desires, and emotions. These latent, dormant levels of mind remain unknown to the aspirant. Even when the conscious mind has become seemingly calm, a single impression (such as a memory) that arises from the unconscious can suddenly distort the mind, exactly the way that a pebble’s splash can disturb the smooth surface of a lake.

Human emotion is an immense power, which usually operates below the surface of the lake of mind, like a fish swimming under water. If that emotion is not guided, it can pollute and contaminate the whole lake of the mind. In this endeavor, students need to learn patience with themselves. Actually, our impressions, thought patterns, and emotions are identical to our own deeds, because a thought is virtually a deed.

To fear and try to escape from examining one’s own thought processes is a serious mistake for a student to make. You should examine all your fears, and then you will find that most fears are imaginary and irrational. From this point, you then begin the process of contemplation with analysis. Gradually, you will acquire power to inspect your own thinking process, while remaining undisturbed. Such a mind attains clarity and is then prepared to attain samadhi. There are many levels of samadhi, which is a state of deep, absorbed meditation. When the student can focus his or her mind for ten minutes without any disturbance, he or she has nearly attained this goal.

All human beings who are aware of the reality of life, and who have already examined the small joys and pleasures of the world, will realize that they cannot remain content or truly satisfied without practicing meditation. Meditation creates the highest of all joys; meditation creates fearlessness. Glory to the path of meditation!

The final step of meditation is to remain in silence. This silence cannot be described; it is inexplicable. This silence opens the door of intuitive knowledge, and then the past, present, and future are revealed to the student.

Once upon a time, a student of meditation went to see a sage. The student began discussing philosophical concepts, such as God and the divine existence, but the sage didn’t say anything. The aspirant talked on and on about God and asked many probing questions, but still the sage kept still. Finally, in frustration, the aspirant inquired why the sage wouldn’t answer his questions. Then the sage smiled and said gently, “I have been answering you, but you are not listening: God is silence.”

In the course of my search and study in the Himalayas and the other parts of India, I met a fortunate few, who enjoyed such deep state of silence and who also helped those who are prepared to meditate.
Beyond body, breath, and mind lies this silence. From Silence emanate peace, happiness, and bliss. The meditator makes that silence his or her personal abode; that is the final goal of meditation.

Om. Peace, Peace, Peace . . .





This site is devoted to presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand. We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.