Preksha Meditation & Human Health ► 1. Introduction ► 7. Preksha Meditation ► 7.1 Components of Preksha Meditation

Posted: 07.09.2015
  1. Main Components:
    1. Kayotsarga (Relaxation)
    2. Antaryatra (Internal Trip)
    3. Swaspreksha (Perception of Breathing)
    4. Sarirapreksha (Perception of Body)
    5. Chaitanyakendrapreksha (Perception of Psychic Centres)
    6. Lesya-dhyana (Perception of Psychic Colours)
    7. Anupreksha (Contemplation)
    8. Bhavna (Autosuggestion)
  2. Supporting Components:
    1. Dhwani (Sound)
    2. Mudra (Position of hands)
    3. Asana (yoga posture)
  3. Special Components:
    1. Vertaman kshan ki presha (Perception of the present)
    2. Vichar Preksha (Perception of thought)
    3. Animesh Preksha (Conceptual perception)

Philosophical Basis for Kayotsarga (Relaxation)
Kayotsarga - Precondition for Meditation

Acquisition of maximum mental steadiness is meditation. Motionless body (through relaxation) is an essential precondition for meditation. Unless the body is steadied, the mind cannot be steady.

Muscular system is the basis of the bodily movement. Skeletal muscles of the head, trunk and limbs are called voluntary muscles and their action can be controlled at will.

The first step in a meditational exercise is to adopt a specific posture, and then remain motionless in hat posture.

Relaxation - Simulating Death

Kayotsarga is simulation of death. Two conditions are essential - (i) total cessation of voluntary movements, that is, relaxed condition of all skeletal muscles, and (ii) extremely slow rate Of respiration as if the system has stopped working. Total relaxation is when there is an acute perception of this state which is neither imagination nor autosuggestion but a real experience. The body is forgotten and cast away. It is further characterized by an actual experience of floating outside one's body when death occurs but the real experience of casting away one's body and be alive is a good achievement. Out real existence is neither body nor respiration. It is far beyond them. When the body is virtually lifeless and the respiration is all but stopped, I is the 'death' of the body which can be cast off. The essence of the exercise is the actual awareness of the truth that the conscious element is not identical with the inert body. The self-awareness is so real that the material shell of the body is forgotten (Mahaprajna, 1996).

Awareness of the self

From the above it is clear that total relaxation is that condition in which the separateness of the body and the soul is no longer a belief but a real experience. The awareness of the real self apart from the body, apart from the tribulations, apart from the emotions and excitement is the real purpose of kayotsarga.

The consciousness, the self, is neither the body, nor the desire nor the sleep nor the primal urge. This realization by actual experience is the first step towards emancipation and the process of self-awareness begins with cessation of body-movement, discipline of the limbs, speech and sense-organs.

In fact, the process of self-awareness does not commence until all voluntary movements are totally stopped and the gravity is freely allowed to do its pull on the body Thus, motionlessness of the body is the main gate of self-realization. After stopping the action of the skeletal muscles, the next step is to suspend the action of the more subtle internal smooth muscles. But as long as the flow of vital energy is active and the wandering of the mind continues, total stativity of the body cannot be realized. All subtle as well as gross movements of the body are caused by the haphazard flow of vital energy and the scattered activity of the mind. If the stream of vital energy and the flow of thoughts are channelized and turned towards self-awareness and self-realization, the muscle will calm down. This is because the impulses, which activated and excited the muscles and which were generated by mental unsteadiness, are no longer available. Once the body is totally motionless, it can be cast off, and the purpose of kayotsarga fulfilled (Mahaprajna, 1996).

Identification of the Real Enemy

Kayotsarga is the process to search and find the root cause of all miseries and sufferings. The gross physical body is the medium for the perception of suffering or its manifestation but not its root cause. The root cause is the subtle most body called karma sarira. In the state of Kayotsarga, one is able to detect and identify the root cause of mundane suffering. And once this truth is known there is a fundamental change in the attitude towards the gross body

When all bodily movements are stopped, the shock waves boomerang on the enemy and shock it. The calm of motionlessness is a direct hit and it trembles for the first time. A serious breach has been created in tis fortifications the practitioner's motionlessness and subsequent self-awareness explodes the conceit of the enemy and it trembles. Its lines of assault fall in large numbers. Its armament becomes useless and the defeat commences.

The first offensive in the war against the enemy is relaxation, eliminating turmoil and agitation of the body Keeping perfectly still, stopping all voluntary movements is an essential part of this exercise.

Vital Energy

Body and soul, through breathing, are intimately associated with prana, the potential vital energy. This is inherent in all life-substances. It is well-known that when we breathe in, we inhale oxygen which is essential for life. Oxygen is delivered to each cell of the body to generate vital energy. Thus ultimately, breath is the only efficient means of providing prana which is essential for generating vital energy. It is continues and constant.

Fresh air, inhaled in the lungs, contains oxygen which enters the bloodstream and is delivered to the cells in the active tissue. Cells use the oxygen to produce energy. Thus breathing is source of vital energy. The animation of the entire organism, that is each and every activity of life, needs energy. Functioning of sense-or-gans, brain, intellect, speech and bodily movements are all powered by energy. Flow of bio-energy is the source of power for all activities. Flow of bio-energy is capable of animating sense-organs, brain and body which would remain inanimate otherwise.

Controlled and conscious breathing, as in svasa-preksa (perception of breath), is the source of still greater power. The deeper and slower the breathing is, the greater is the production and availability of energy. The soul, the conscious element of the psychic existence, possesses infinite vitality and power.

Scientific complete breathing stars with fuller utilization of the vital capacity of the lungs by slow, silent and deep breathing.

Regular practice of regulated breathing is an efficient means of improving the quality of respiration. It is the process of reinforcing and disciplining the generation of vital energy - prana, regulated breathing ensures complete evacuation of the lungs by a slow, calm and complete exhalation; maximum intake of fresh air by inhalation and full exchange of gases in the lungs by holding the breath. It also ensures full utilization of vital capacity.

All the centres for generating vital energy are controlled by our brain. Stream of vital energy can flow in two separate directions: one would be an external route and the other an internal one. When the flow is in the external route, it animates our vital organs. Our normal strength is produced in this way and there is nothing extra - ordinary about it. The stream of vitality activates all centres and our normal life is carried on without difficulty. But when we change the direction of the stream of vital energy, that is, allow it to flow by internal route instead of the external one, different and extraordinary powers are generated (Mahaprajna, 1996).

Regulation of Breathing (Dirgha Svasa)

Normally breathing is automatic. That is, it does not need attention. But it is also amenable to voluntary control. If one so desires, one can, even without much practice, change and modify the rate, duration and depth of breathing. Slow, deep and rhythmic breathing qualifies to become the object of perception.

Mind is ever restless. Meditation aims at restraining the mind's wandering and ultimately steadying it. Conventionally this is sought to be achieved by total stoppage of thought. But to stop the flow of thoughts for any length of time is extremely difficult, if not impossible. In fact, any attempt to suppress the mental activity makes the mind more restless than ever. In Preksha Meditation, however, the mind is engaged in concentrated perception on an object of a phenomenon. Here mental functioning is not stopped or suppressed, but regulated and channelized. In other words, the streams of thought flowing in different directions are channelized and made to flow in one direction. Thus regulated and disciplined mind can be made to concentrate in the perception of a single event or a phenomenon for a good length of time. The mind, thus engaged in the function of perception, is not available for that of thinking (Mahaprajna, 1996).

Philosophical Basis of Perception of Psychic Centres

Philosophers, scientist and doctors unanimously agree that the endocrines profoundly influence emotions and mental attitudes of a person.

Dr. M.W. Kapp, M.D., writes in his book - 'Glands - Our Invisible Guardias' - "Our jealousies, hates, fears, struggles for wealth, power, position, our lusts, and superstitions - all call upon the reserve supply of adrenal secretions - the fighting or energizing secretion - until the glands are exhausted."

Other passions and emotions are expressions of the endocrine glads. Their arousal due to recorded past will overload the system, and their work is disintegrated. Excessive secretion produces psychological distortions and weakens the glands. It is, therefore, necessary that we control and regulate the passions and emotions. The emotional impulses must be resolved by conscious reasoning to avoid the overloading and dysfunctioning of the system (Mahaprajna, 1996).

Psychic Centres in Ayurveda

Sarvenam savve is an aphorism in the Bhagavati Sutra. It means that all the innumerable points of our conscious elements are psychic centres. However, in certain parts of the body, there is greater concentration of the conscious element than in the other parts. This can be expressed in other words thus: The whole body comprises of an electromagnetic field, but the intensity of the electro- magnetism in some specific parts is many times more than that in the other parts. Our brain, sense- organs and the endocrines are such specific centres. Ayurveda calls these centres "Vital centres" - marma-sthana and they have identified 107 vital centres. Concentration of vital energy takes place in these centres. These are, therefore, the important centres where the conscious field is more intense. There is remarkable coincidence in the location and significance of the psychic centres identified in the Preksha Meditation system and the vital centres identified by the Ayurveda System.

Psychic centres vitalize all important organs including the sense-organs and the mind. An important purpose of meditational functioning of these organs. Perception of psychic centres can do this efficiently (Mahaprajna, 1996).

Philosophical Basis of Perception of Psychic Colours Functions of Lesya

Referring to the organizational chart, lesya acts as a liaison between the spiritual self and the physical self of a living organism. It is the built in mechanism within the organism through which the spiritual self can exercise its power and authority and control the functions of the bodily organs. It deciphers the code of intangible psychic expressions (adhyavasaya) into a form which is tangible and crude enough to control and function through such gross elements as flesh and bones. Of course, lesya derives much assistance from endocrine system in its function of intercommunication and manifestation in the physical body.

Lesya functions in both directions: centripetally, i.e. from periphery towards centre, as well as centrifugally i.e. from centre to periphery. Contaminating material is continuously attracted and collected from the external environment by threefold activities of the physical body viz., thought, speech and muscular action. This must be delivered to the sphere of kasaya at the centre in an acceptable subtle form. Similarly, whatever is radiated outwards from the subtle karma sarira at the centre is delivered to the gross physical body by lesya (Mahaprajna, 1996).

Scientific Basis of Perception of Breathing

To appreciates significance of total breathing, it is essential to understand the special importance of breathing on the basis of scientifically established facts.

The body needs a continual supply of oxygen. In addition the body needs some means of disposing of the waste caron dioxide produced by the function of the body cells. Breathing or respiration provides a continual replenishment of oxygen in the lungs, drawing in fresh air and expelling waste gases.

Respiration is an unconscious act that goes on throughout the day and even when one is asleep. The mechanical power, required for the process of breathing is supplied by the action of three sets of muscles –

  1. diaphragm
  2. intercostal muscles and
  3. clavicular muscles.

The important mechanism for increasing the volume of the chest cavity is the contraction of the diaphragm. Diaphragmatic breathing is slow and deep; costal breathing is rapid and shallow. In a forceful expiration one can expel about 5 liters in one blow. In normal quiet with each breath is about Vi litre. The capacities can be modified by breathing exercises and by practising scientific total breathing.

The difference between bad breathing and scientifically complete breathing lies mostly in the method and its practice. Hard (tense) abdominal muscles encumber every breath. Immobilized diaphragm and inflexible rib-cage hinder the entry of air into the lungs more efficiently than a tight belt or corset. First step, therefore, is to remove the internal girdle by relaxing these muscles.

Exhalation: Scientific breathing begins with a slow, calm and complete exhalation. Contraction of the abdominal muscles help to evacuate the lungs by. raising the diaphragm. Unless we first breath out fully, it is impossible to breathe in correctly.

Inhalation: Having emptied the lungs, the next step is to fill it up the maximum extent. The total volume of air which the lungs are able to contain is known as the vital capacity, which is about 6 litters.

Women are habitually making use of the only clavicle or intercostal muscles for breathing. They may, therefore, take a longer time for learning the use of diaphragm.

Once the technique of complete breathing is learnt, it can be practised anywhere and at any time. In fact, it could and should become a habit rather than an exercise. Complete way of breathing should become the normal way (Mahaprajna, 1996).

Scientific Basis of Perception of Psychic Centres

The nervous system and the endocrine system are the two major controlling and coordinating systems of our body. They coordinate the work of other systems and through the control the functions of the body as whole. Both are intimately associated with each other and, together, integrate the organism. The functional interlocking between both qualifies them to be regarded as constituting a single both qualifies them to be regarded as constituting a single integrated system called "neuroendocrine system".

The endocrine glands communicate their orders through chemicals regulators called hormones. They participate in all bodily functions. These chemical messengers exert profound influence on the mental states, emotions profound influence on the mental states, emotions and behavioural patterns of an individual. They are the prime movers which generate the powerful forces of all the instinct and urges, passions and emotions in man. These, in turn, generate feelings and demand appropriate action that satisfied the need. Love, fear etc. are endocrine expressions.

For a long time this was believed that the brain was the source of energy and the seat of impulses of man. Significant progress in endocrinology in the recent years has established that the passions and emotions are expression of the endocrine system.

Endocrine system is the seat of habit formation in a person. They manifest themselves in the nervous system and become behavioral pattern. Thus manifestation and behaviour are the functions of the nervous system, but the birth-place-the production centres of the habits - is endocrine system. The same habits are then stored in the brain as memories (i.e. the brain is only the repository of memories), and ultimately become patterns of behaviour. The word neuro-endocrine system is very apt to describe the integration of both systems.

The endocrine glands are comparatively small, ductless and have access to very rich vascular supply. Hormones reach their target thought blood stream. They are effective in very small quantities. They regulate such important body-processes as growth and development, sexual activity, pregnancy and birth, and metabolism.

For the most part, hormone-secretion of the endocrine system is under the control of the pituitary. A variety of hormones secreted by the pituitary reach other glands via the bloodstreams and stimulate each to secrete specific hormones in definite quantities. Through a feed-back system of chemical inter-communication, pituitary regulates the hormone production of the glads (Mahaprajna, 1996).

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