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Questions and Answers About Meditation, Yoga, the Spiritual Life, and More

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Tense to Relax
July 14, 2015

Malik
U.K

Question

Why do my toes curl up and contract on my in breath whislt meditating, and release on the out breath? This happens late in my 45 minutes mediation period. Also why do I experience intermittent anxiety sometimes during meditation and sometimes not really at all.

Nayaswami Hriman

Nayaswami Hriman

Ananda Seattle

Answer

Dear Friend,

There’s no intrinsic physiological reason for the toes to tense and relax with the breath cycle. I suggest it’s a question of deeper relaxation. At Ananda, we teach a series of tense and relax movements tied into the breath cycle that helps relax and dispel tension in the body. They are called Energization Exercises (or "Tension Exercises").

These or something equivalent, including yoga postures or even some stretches, performed before sitting to meditate might be helpful in your case. If nothing else, curl and uncurl your toes three to five times in a standing position BEFORE sitting to meditate. (You might do this one foot at a time!) Also, try an ankle rotation — one foot at a time — three circles one way, three in reverse.

In any case, make sure the feet and toes are relaxed before commencing your meditation.

Then, during meditation, tense and relax them as needed from time to time.

I think if you put attention on relaxing in the area of the feet, you'll find this symptom gradually disappearing.

ok?

Blessings to you,

Nayaswami Hriman

Jessica
USA

Question

Hello! I have an interesting question I’ve been trying to answer for about five years. I used to be very much into meditating, but I had to stop. The reason is, I learned how to go into a state of deep meditation quickly. When I do this, I become aware of all the layers of negative energy and thoughts I have. I feel almost as if I’m the wrong person. Then quite sadly, my mind goes searching for people and places in time I’ve lost. Why does this happen? How can I resolve it?

Nayaswami Hriman

Nayaswami Hriman

Ananda Seattle

Answer

Dear Jessica,

I won’t comment specifically on what you have experienced, because what I would like to offer to you is to return both to your own "center" and, following that, to the higher purpose of meditation. For, it is both true and possible that "going within" one encounters the kinds of experiences and impulses which you describe. But as you essentially report, it doesn’t take you anywhere useful, spiritually speaking.

Thus it is that meditation has been taught by true spiritual teachers down through the ages and then used by students and disciples for achieving the higher states of consciousness which are the soul’s true nature. If, therefore, you are seeking to achieve the higher purpose(s) of meditation, I would recommend that you seek a spiritual path, teacher, and technique(s) that resonate with your highest spiritual aspirations.

There’s little point in attempting to define meditation or even its goals but some of the most obvious include the negative side, ego transcendence, to the positive side, oneness with God, and everything else in between. True meditation takes place when thoughts have subsided. For most people, well, many, at least, having a positive focal point is necessary to raise one’s consciousness above the more subconscious states associated with the lower energy centers (chakras) in the body.

Devotion to God, guru, or whatever divine states of consciousness (abstract or personal) inspire you is like a rocket launcher to one’s heart and energy — launching up and past the subterranean darkness of our past. But whether your temperament is devotional, mental, or energetic, an "upward" focus (with eyes to the point between the eyebrows, to the heart in self-offering, and to the mind in seeking transcendence) is ultimately the solution. This "solution" presupposes, further, an openness to divine grace as the ultimate power doing the "heavy lifting" towards soul consciousness. This grace is, at first offered to us, by those enlightened teachers (gurus) whose very existence is to uplift and to enlighten. Direct contact with "God" is like trying to call the White House to speak personally with the President — not going to happen!!! Our body and nervous system could not sustain the shock of omnipresence should God "come to us."

As we are encased in flesh and ego, so we need an intermediary and intermediate steps to purify body, mind, heart, and ego. We need a "friend."

Seek and ye shall find; knock and the door shall be opened. Chanting, affirmation, mantra, visualization, even yoga postures, can, with right attitude and understanding, help you bypass the detours of karma and subconscious states of mind. "God alone!" Find your true path; attune yourself to God through the guru’s grace, teachings, techniques, and service.

Blessings,

Nayaswami Hriman

Sudip
India

Question

I often feel a problem in gazing at the spiritual eye; during the practice of the Hong-Sau technique my gaze often moves towards the movement of the breath. I also find problems in sighting a source of light from the spiritual eye. Please help with my problems.

Nayaswami Pranaba

Nayaswami Pranaba

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Sudip,

To clarify the Hong-Sau technique: the mental gaze should be at the spiritual eye, whereas your awareness, or primary focus, should be on wherever the breath is most apparent to you. The spiritual eye is like a home you always come back to. The focus of watching the breath helps to deepen your concentration. Eventually as you go deeper into the technique you experience the breath flowing in and out of the spiritual eye. And then, ultimately, you find yourself merging into the spiritual eye, with the breath very calm (or even completely stilled).

It’s helpful to train yourself during the day, to keep your awareness more at the spiritual eye, no matter what activity you are involved in. This will allow you to be naturally more inclined to feel a magnetic presence at that point.

It’s also good to use visualizations such as Yogananda’s “Expanding Sphere of Light and Joy” from Metaphysical Meditations, which can be a dynamic support in experiencing the spiritual eye.

Seeing the inner light (jyoti) of the spiritual eye is something we long for. However, leave that up to Divine Mother. Our role is to be as pure as we can be in our offering — through the techniques, through devotion, through our attunement. Be open to perceiving that inner light, but at the same time release all expectations. A challenge indeed, but as you continue in your efforts, this challenge is one that will bring you ever nearer to your home in God.

In divine friendship,

Nayaswami Pranaba

Inga
Ireland

Question

Hello,

I’ve been going on and off meditation for quite some time and I can’t find anything similar that I’m going through.

Everytime I get serious with meditation and continue with it I start having dreams and I see entities, dead people, I even predict things that would happen the next day. Also I feel magnetic pains in my temples. Is this normal? Many thanks

Nayaswami Seva

Nayaswami Seva

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Inga,

I hope I can be of help to you not having these experiences myself. What immediately comes to my mind though is that you need to get out of the mental state that puts you into alignment with these experiences. You need to be determined not to go with them, but to use your will power to see other more enlightening experiences, such as joy and the light.

I would strongly suggest that you do yoga postures to stretch and relax your body. Do this before you sit to meditate. If you use the Ananda Yoga system, you will relax into meditation more easily.

Start your meditations with a chant. In fact, chant through most of your meditation until you can sit without going into the darkness. Chanting, as Yogananda said, is half the battle. It puts your mind into a devotional, loving state. It raises your energy and helps you to connect with God and your spiritual teacher.

If you have a japa practice, do this during your meditation — saying "Aum Guru" for instance over and over again. Or say, the Light of God is within me over and over. Practice this throughout the day so that you are always calling on God and Guru. In our case, Paramhansa Yogananda is our guru. He can help you also if you do not have one. If he’s not your guru, he will help you find one.

Also join our virtual online community. Take the courses provided. Listen to the music, as it is uplifting to your consciousness. Join with this community so that you meet other seekers of God. Bless you dear soul. Keep in the light.

Blessings,

seva

S
India

Question

In the hong sau technique, we need to observe our breath with concentration.What if the same concentration is given to something else like classical music.Why breath only..Eg..if I sing for very long with concentration,I feel the same peace which people feel in meditation.Does it mean,there are expressions of meditations...like some people feel that peace through photography, dance etc.It is also said music is the highest way to reach God.So can meditation be substituted with music.

Nayaswami Hriman

Nayaswami Hriman

Ananda Seattle

Answer

Dear Friend,

Surely many creative and engaging tasks can bring to us satisfaction, fulfillment and peace of mind. Paramhansa Yogananda wrote that while we can concentrate on just about anything, meditation is a form of concentration that focuses on God, or one of the aspects of higher consciousness.

So, I would say that the best reply is 'BOTH-AND.' Listening to classical, uplifting music can be very relaxing and peaceful. At the same time, if one seeks to know God, to find one’s true Self, to achieve higher wisdom and a lasting sense and state of inner peace, then meditation is one of the best and most effective tools in this day and age. While most activities take our awareness outward into and through the senses, meditation withdraws Life Force from the physical senses, through the subtle senses (of the astral body) and then into suprasensory states of consciousness and ultimately beyond all objects and lower states of mind.

The "highest" music is communing inwardly with the primordial sound, the "voice" of God in silence: the Aum vibration (the "Word", the Comforter, the Holy Ghost or Divine Mother). All other music, including sacred mantric or other form of chanting, should take us beyond outer sounds towards inner communion with the divine vibration of Aum.

Hong Sau begins the meditation process by observation of the one movement remaining after the body is still and seated in meditation: the breath. Fortunately, the breath is the link between consciousness and the body and thus is not only the natural object of interior focus but the correct one to lead our attention beyond the breath and into the higher states.

The action of the physical breath is caused by the flow of Life Force ("prana") in the astral body which, as it flows into the physical body through the doorways of the chakras, sustains the physical body and causes the body to breathe and to have the Life Force circulating through the body doing its work.

The mantra Hong Sau, moreover, has deeper, mantric aspects, imitating in sound and feeling the movement of Life Force through the astral body.

Thus, I would urge you not to give up on the Hong Sau technique. Approach it reverently as sacred experience introducing you to your own higher Self through its presence in the breath.

Sincerely and blessings to you,

Nayaswami Hriman

Ganesh K.
India

Question

How do I attain quick success in meditation?

Nayaswami Parvati

Nayaswami Parvati

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear friend,

To receive quick (and ongoing) success you need to do the following:

  1. Make room for meditation in your life, setting aside regular times to meditate each day.
  2. Set aside a place, however small, that is for meditation only.
  3. Make your meditation times long enough, meditating at least 20 to 30 minutes at each sitting.
  4. Meditate twice a day, every day, without fail.
  5. Concentration. Concentrate completely on the technique you are using, letting go of each distracting thought as it comes in.
  6. Don’t move a muscle! When you first sit to meditate, resolve to sit completely still for the first five minutes. Doing this will allow you to sit for much longer without moving. This will also help in maintaining a deeper level of concentration.
  7. Meditate with joy and love and devotion, bringing these qualities into your meditation from the start rather than waiting for them to come to you.
  8. And then, be patient and know that meditation has become the polestar of your life, guiding you back to your home in God.

In divine friendship,

Nayaswami Parvati

Prashant
India

Question

Hi,

I am trying to control lustful thoughts, especially when I am alone and could lead to self-indulgence. I would like to know if there is an asana which can enable me to do this instantly. I have tried deep breathing (brastika) pranayama but the thoughts always come back and its really easy for me to look up stuff on the internet and defile myself. I want to stop for good — I want an asana which is easy and instantaneous. Thanking you

Nayaswami Diksha

Nayaswami Diksha

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Prashant,

The best way to overcome undesired thoughts is to replace them with positive uplifting thoughts, repetition of mantras and japa (repeating the name of God).

Unfortunately, there is no asana that can do what you ask. It’s simply not that easy. What you need to do is to change your consciousness and redirect your energy inward and upward to the center of your higher Self at the point between your eyebrows.

A simple breathing technique can help you with the lustful thoughts: as you inhale, consciously lift energy from your lower torso up toward the brain. Infuse your mind with positive, uplifting thoughts.

Study uplifting spiritual teachings. Engage yourself in wholesome activities, and service to others. Find a temple that inspires you and spend time with people who are seeking spiritually. Stay away from lurid Internet sites.

Remember: self-transformation is a process that takes time and perseverance, but when you make a sincere effort, God will respond!

I hope these suggestions will help you make the change that you are seeking.

Blessings,

Diksha

Diana Barrett
US

Question

On a handful of occasions in the last year or so, I have had the experience (on waking from sleep) of being totally aware. There is not anything to identify with or attach to. Then a second later I become fearful of not knowing and re-identify with my persona. Can you share what state I have been in and how/why it happens? Is it a good thing? Many thanks, Diana

Nayaswami Hriman

Nayaswami Hriman

Ananda Seattle

Answer

Diana,

Patanjali identifies and names a spectrum of specific meditative states but while the specifics are secondary let me say that the state of self-awareness without condition or identification with body or personality is an aspect of the causal state of consciousness.

Even if but a fleeting or occasional experience, it is a true and welcome state. You should meditate upon this state: meaning intuitively recall it during meditation (and especially after meditation practices and sitting in the silence). Indeed, this is one of the meditations suggested by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.

Thus, while the experience has come to you seemingly unsought (though surely a product of your meditation efforts and karma), it is helpful to see if you can consciously reawaken the state. It can even be done by taking mental breaks during the day but it most certainly should be recalled (by feeling and intuition) in meditation.

Blessings!

Nayaswami Hriman

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