Teacher Training Manual: Lesson 05 - Raja Yoga
From BrahmaKumaris.Info Encyclopedia
Lesson 5: Steps in Raja Yoga Meditation (Part I)
Step One: JOURNEY INSIDE Step Two: THE JOURNEY UPWARD
• At the end of the session, the students would have:
1. Appreciation of the unique aspects of Raja Yoga meditation
2. Understanding of the 3-step method of Raja Yoga meditation
3. Initial positive experience of the 3-step method.
What is Meditation?
- Inner Dialogue: a conversation with yourself. We are so used to spending a lot of time talking to others especially when we are looking for answers to questions. During these inner conversations, you get to know yourself: your deep desires, your strengths, talents and qualities. And your weaknesses also become visible. It's important to learn to look at all these aspects of your personality. Many things happened to the soul during the course of time. Many of these past experiences made us body conscious and led us away from who we really are: the original, complete individual, that is, the eternal soul.
- Inner Healing: Having a silent conversation with yourself is very healing. Meditation literally makes you 'whole' again. When we don't know ourselves, we feel lost: Who am I? Where am I going? What should I be doing?, etc.
No one can solve these questions for you except yourself. That's why Raja Yoga pays so much attention to the experience of meditation. That's where the answers lie. When you begin to experience yourself as a spiritual personality, others may try to undermine you, but no one can destroy this inner reality.
- Recharging the Battery: Meditation is about recharging yourself with inner strength. This can be achieved by connecting with the Highest Source of spiritual energy. Lack of spiritual energy is the reason for every problem we have in the world today, individually and collectively: depression, stress, isolation, conflict, etc. It all comes down to a lack of spiritual power: the power to cooperate, to tolerate, to face, etc.
Ingredients of Raja Yoga Mediation
Raja Yoga meditation is a clear step by step method.
- PRACTICE: Meditation is something we ought to do daily. Regularity is important. Through consistent practice you will experience yourself to be improving. Changes will start to happen in your life. It is not just sitting down to experience a bit of peace. It will become part of your whole life, a way of living
- ATTENTION: It is better to practice regularly than only once a week for a couple of hours. Regular and consistent meditation makes you alert. You will find that you won't have to work so hard to get rid of all the 'cobwebs' in your mind, that is, the wasteful impressions you have to clear away before the actual meditation can begin. Regular moments of introspection (called traffic control) during the day sustain the experience you had during your morning meditation. Attention is needed to keep regular pauses in your daily activities to re-affirm who you are or you lose yourself in activities.
- EXPERIMENTATION: To experiment with everything you learn is very important. In this way the theory becomes practical and life becomes a joy, that is worth living. See your mind as a laboratory in which you can experiment with new thoughts, feelings and ideas. Experimenting is an individual and incognito process. Allow yourself the time to understand and practice the ideas you have learned.
STEP- BY- STEP RAJA YOGA MEDITATION
Meditation is the art of being able to create your own experiences. We are not aware of the fact that we create our own experiences anyway, on the basis of the thoughts that we create in our mind. Our thoughts are determined by our consciousness. Our consciousness determines our mood. Our mood is how we feel and these feelings create an experience.
- Choice: We have to realize that we always have a choice in what we think. We are free to think whatever we like in any given circumstances. And these thoughts create our feelings and emotions. Secondly, we also realize that we are influenced by whatever we focus on. The mental link with a person, an object or a situation brings up certain feelings. This choice is ours.
- Concentration: The longer you stay in a certain consciousness, the deeper the experience of those thoughts will be. Focusing on a certain subject is done by the intellect. When the mind and intellect are stable in one consciousness, this is called concentration. It is only when we are concentrated that we can have an experience. So meditation is the condition when the mind and intellect are stable in a spiritual consciousness. You learn to focus your attention on the pure essence of your being the peaceful soul and you experience this. The reason why we find it difficult at times to concentrate is because the intellect has become weak. There are many things that influence our intellect in a negative way. Such obvious things are: liquor, drugs and cigarettes. Also watching television for long periods of time; overwhelming emotions such as: anger, fear, worries, sorrow or desires. They could cloud the intellect. If you are not attentive during the day and do not filter the impressions that come to your intellect, it becomes polluted. When you want to meditate at the end of the day, you will struggle for a while to get rid of all the unwanted impressions.
The word yoga literally means connection or union. You are influenced by whatever you connect yourself with. So, whenever you feel a certain emotion coming up, you can ask yourself: 'Hey, what's happening? What did I connect my thoughts, which make me feel the way I feel? I did that myself, I chose to connect myself with something or someone.' A Raja Yogi consciously chooses with whom or with what to connect the mind. A Yogi controls the mind. 'Raja' means king, the master of the self. A Raja Yogi learns to connect his/her intellect with his/her original personality of peace. love, purity, and power and with the Supreme Being.
Let's experiment with yoga: Think of your home and connect to your kitchen. Imagine that we were to concentrate very intensely with your kitchen for 30 minutes. The experience of being in your kitchen will then become very realistic. Every detail will become 'visible' you just feel' the whole atmosphere of your kitchen. This is what yoga is about. It is connection, influence and experience.
1. Yoga = Connection 2. Connection = Influence 3. Influence = Experience
So, the soul doesn't have to leave the body to actually experience another place or even another dimension. You were here in this room, yet your attention was elsewhere.
STEP 1: THE JOURNEY INWARD
Raja Yoga is the conscious choice for a connection with your original self.
CREATING A SPIRITUAL SELF-IMAGE
The inward journey is soul consciousness. It is important to emphasize the word spiritual, because we all have a self and think about this question. What thoughts come to mind when I think about myself? (Wait for answers)
Which means you do not connect yourself with all the ideas you might have had about yourself: I am a man or a woman, I am funny, and I am Christian. etc. These are concepts; ideas that have been formed in the course of time they are not your original 'you', your spiritual identity.
The foundation of Raja Yoga meditation is a stable stage of soul consciousness. To create this stage you can ask yourself these four questions:
Basic Exercise to Become Soul Conscious
1. Who am I?
2. What is my form?
3. What are my original qualities?
4. Where do I come from?
The success of this exercise depends on how long you are able to think about these questions without being distracted by the things around you or by the other thoughts within your mind. Even if you don't have an experience right away, just keep practicing. See it as a kind of gymnastics for the soul. A golden rule to complete these four questions is that if you have a waste thought in between these questions, you have to go back to 1. In this way, you learn to build up a concentrated soul conscious stage step by step.
Try to answer with understanding. Try as much as possible, to really experience your answers. Visualize, experiment, and experience. Don't go to the next question until you feel you have really completed the preceding question. If you practice this exercise well, the next step in meditation will be easy. Start and end your day with this soul consciousness exercise. Take your time, at least ten minutes. You will find that these questions will serve you as a framework into which you can build your own creative meditations. See to it that you sit in a quiet place where you are not interrupted by phones or people.
Now, let's practice the four questions. Pause for this exercise.
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE REALLY SOUL CONSCIOUS?
Are my thoughts positive or negative? When you are soul conscious you only have positive thoughts about yourself and others. No criticism, jealousy, fear, hopelessness, etc.
Are my thoughts clear and clean? There should not be any confusion, lack of concentration or waste thoughts. In soul consciousness the mind and intellect are clear and concentrated
FREE FROM INNER CONFLICT
Is my mind free from conflicts, free from tension? There are a variety of conflicts: when our conscience bites, guilt or shame are experienced; confusion about what is right or wrong, good or bad, true or false, also create inner conflicts. Worrying about others also create an inner conflict. All these are signs of body consciousness.
In Raja Yoga we learn to keep our eyes and ear wide open and still remain within ourselves. Introspection means being able to create and control your own thoughts no matter what is happening around you. You are the one who create your own 'reality'. There is a subtle difference between reacting and responding. We are used to reacting to people and things around us. Responding is something we consciously do. We think about it and then we decide whether to do it or not. Responding implies a choice.
It is important to create a spiritual self-image because we want to establish a relationship with the Supreme Soul. As the Supreme Soul is completely soul conscious, it's essential that we stabilize ourselves in soul consciousness. A relationship with the Supreme Soul is a relationship of soul to Soul, purely through thoughts and feelings. It's an exchange without eyes, hands, feet, mouth, ears, etc. It is here where the importance of the practice of the four questions comes in, because they help us to become stable in soul conscious stage.
STEP 2: THE JOURNEY UPWARD
The second step in Raja Yoga is the journey to the spiritual dimension. This dimension, called the soul world, is a non-physical world. This is a world in which time, sound and movement do not exist. In this original home of all souls, we experience ourselves as we truly are in all eternity. Here, we are separate from limitations such as form, role, age, race, religion, expectations, time and space. Here, in this world of silence, we can be who we truly are without any disturbance.
The Power of Silence
For this connection with your own self, silence is very important. So, what is silence? The power of silence enables us to disconnect from everything around and even from the -noise' inside the mind. In silence we can journey to the silent home. In this world of silence we are able to heal, to experience ourselves as we really are. Silence is an enormous power. It is only in silence that we are able to know ourselves and the secrets of life. Silence is like a weapon, a shield against negativity.
Silence is an inner power. It means being able to connect with the essence of our being with that original point of peace, of harmony, of wholeness. Silence is a quiet place behind all thoughts, feelings and emotions. From this place of quiet I can, like an observer, look at the world from a distance.Silence is something you can build up inside yourself; you can create a space for silence. In this space you can build up a stock of silence, a reservoir which can always be used at the time of need. Raja Yogis have a 'meditation room' inside their mind, a place of silence they can always go to.
Let's see if we can be completely silent for just a minute.
Was it possible? No thoughts at all? Making the mind completely silent that is without thoughts, is not the practice of Raja Yoga. Raja Yoga is the art of stabilizing the mind in one consciousness like peace for instance. When you think deeply about peace, you'll find your mind gradually become more and more quiet, until only a few essential thoughts remain. It then feels as though you can 'float' on those thoughts. Silence comes automatically when you learn to focus your mind on one idea. So, learning to give your thoughts the right direction takes you into silence.
The Experience of Essence
Going back to the essence gives power. Think about the essential oils of flower. These oils are very concentrated. Just a drop is enough to spread a lot of fragrance. In the same way, our concentrated thoughts are also very powerful. If, on the contrary, we go into wasteful expansion, we lose power.
- Fuel; For the journey upward we need fuel, first of all to get off the ground and secondly to be able to remain in our place of destination, at least, for a while. What do you think this 'fuel' is?
- Powerful; positive thoughts are our fuel'. Positive thoughts 'lift us up' while negative thoughts make us heavy. As long as we have uplifting, powerful thoughts, you will be able to stay in a spiritual consciousness. When your positive stock runs out, then you fall back into ordinary thinking. The art of the spiritual upward journey is to have a large stock of powerful, positive thoughts and to keep on increasing this stock.
- Churning; To keep on increasing the stock you need spiritual knowledge. Spiritual knowledge is the basic material that the intellect works on to produce pure, refined thoughts. These thoughts are the fuel for the upward journey. This is what meditation is all about. That's why Raja Yoga meditation is not to make the mind empty, bringing it to a point of blankness. In fact, it is focusing the mind on a spiritual quality, churning that quality or idea, refining it until you come to essence. And the essence gives you the power to lift up.
- Visualization; This is important because the soul, Supreme Soul and the soul world, though they do exist and are real are at the same time invisible. Visualization can help make the invisible visible', thereby making it easier to understand and experience. So, the journey upwards consists of three elements: fuel, churning and visualization.
Let's do a meditation exercise on traveling to the soul world. You can use recorded commentaries or do a live commentary. After the meditation, ask for the experience they have.