Being a dietician I was under the impression that achievement of health would be possible only by eating proper food. After practising Dhyana, I would add meditation also to the list. Transformation in me was palpable and have realised that Kriyas, Dharana and dhyana are the route to the ultimate bliss
I had ample time in the morning as I shifted my morning walks to the evening. Being an early riser, I was looking for some activity to do in those precious hours. I chose Dhyana to fill the void but not for any spiritual enlightenment. A friend of mine introduced me to a Dhyana school. Where I was told to close my eyes and concentrate on only one thing. After about 45 minutes, the bell ringing in the hall indicated all to get up from the dhyana. During these 45 minutes, I tried to concentrate on one thing but the monkey called mind was jumping from one thought to another. Finally my mind settled with one thought. Lo, that was nothing but humming of Salil Choudhri’s melodious number with the visuals of beautiful Nuthan. Soon I realised that the dhyana I was doing was nothing but day dreaming. I saw many still in sleepy mood and some were leaning their heads on the chairs. I even heard some were snoring while Dhyana. I was wondering how one can keep his mind still without thinking. Is the state of keeping mind still is called dhyana? Nobody could answer my queries. I stopped going to that dhyana school.
My quest to practice dhyana continued. I walked in to many Dhyana schools but returned disappointed for I could not concentrate on nothing. At one school they even went to the extent of equating Pathanjali to Christ. A couple from California, preachers of that yoga school, came 1 hour late to teach us the distorted way of chanting ‘soo hum’. I left in the middle of the session. Though India never patented nor commercialised yoga, there are many foreigners who run dhyana school for profits. We need to be very careful in selection of dhyana centres. I went to a highly regarded math but the sanyasi was not keen to teach me dhyana probably I could not convince him in being a committed pupil. While I was looking for concrete direction for dhyana, I accidentally joined an ashram in Rishikesh where Sadhvi Abha Saraswathy taught the prerequisites of Dhyana to control the ‘monkey’ to settle it at one thought.Dharana is holding the mind within a centre of spiritual consciousness in the body or fixing it on some Divine form, either with in the body or outside itYoga Shastra describes the practice of yoga benefits both mental and physical well-being. The ultimate of yogic practice is Kundalini Dhyana. Kundalini, a kind of mental yoga, takes one to the dhyana sthiti step by step. Being a rookie in dhyana I am no authority to talk about Kundalini yoga. But I am sharing the changes that have taken place in my body and mind simultaneously with this practice. Otherwise there are hundreds of books on Kundalini written by various yogic scholars.
Kunadalini: My intention here is to share my experiences with people who still live a mundane life like me, can also adopt the simple steps of Dhyana to keep their mind calm and pleasant. Kundalini an ancient yogic practice developed by our Rishi Pathanjali is still being practiced by many across the world. There are 8 stages in kundalini but the first 6 stages are prerequisites for the stage 7 and 8. Yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana paves way to dhayana and ultimately to samadhi.
Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama are 4 stages are familiar to all who practices yoga in their day-to-day life. If I simplify, Yama means Ahimsa teaches vegetarianism. Niyama means cleanliness, advice to take bath daily. Asana encourages sitting in proper posture and Pranayama controlling of breathing technique is familiar to all Indians.
Pratyahara: There are 7 to 8 kriyas to be performed sitting in Khechari mudra (folding the tongue up and pulling it back towards the throat) discourage talking while in dyana. Kriyas like shabdasanchalan (chanting soo hum, not in khechari), mahamudra, mahabheda help holding all our sensory organs in to control and dictating the involuntary action to become voluntary is a wonderful experience for any beginner. Initially it is very difficult to sit in Unmani mudra (keeping eyes open) and instructing the eyes not to see things which are before the eyes. Deeply chanting Soo, Humm help the ears to not get disturbed by the surrounding noise. In a way listening process will be brought to still. Drusti will be brought under control by doing various types of Kriyas. These Kriyas to be performed for 7 to 59 times, tames our monkey-mind to sit quiet and the drastic changes in the bodily action can be experienced by the performer. Kriyas helped me connect each part of body to the other holistically. Otherwise, it was compartmentalised in my perception. I associated the connection between the spinal cord and the brain. It was really surprising to experience the commands that the brain gives out to the body and the way body obeys them.
Dharana is holding the mind within a centre of spiritual consciousness in the body or fixing it on some Divine form, either with in the body or outside it. Different organs situated at different chakras receive energy from the Muladhara, and get stimulated to stimulate other chakras; portrays the inter-dependency of our organs. The energy generated at the Muladhara chakra situated at L1 and L2 of the spinal card (which gives physical identity), passes through the Svadhisthana chakra situated where kidneys are placed (related to our emotions) to the Manipura chakra situated around the stomach (related to our ego and self-definition), to Anahata chakra at heart (representing our social identity), to Vishuddhi chakra at throat (oriented towards self-experience), to Ajna chakra at the middle of the eye brows (oriented to self-reflection) and finally to the Sahasrara chakra the tip of the head (oriented to the Universal identity and self-knowledge).
The mind, not the eyes, visualises certain divine forms/ figures through performing naumukhi, shakthichalini. During Shambhavi mind visualises lotus blooming on top of sahasrara and the body slowly becomes the lotus itself. Anthah-chakshu (seeing internally) and thinking synchronise well. Conscious mind slowly merges with subconscious mind in Amritpaana. At this point I, me, mine, you and everything becomes one. The thought process in dharana will be at lower current. Mind will be free from excitement and anxiety. Both voluntary and involuntary muscles get relaxed. Kundalini the spiritual energy will get activated. The mind slowly slips in to dhyana. In the dhyana sthiti stream of thoughts are unbroken and will be in under current. Slow and rhythmic breathing will be experienced. Concentrating single-pointedly on the object will be possible. Control of thought waves in the mind will be controlled by another mind! Do we have two minds? Is the second one called Athman?
While in Dhyana disturbances tend to happen for a beginner. The Monkey mind jumps to imagine either yesterday’s happenings or tomorrow’s not happened events. We will be imagining the best of ourselves or the worst of ourselves or will be thinking of others. Artificial joy, pain, worries are experienced in this sthiti. This situation can be ascertained as day dreaming. Sometimes some part of the body starts itching. To get away from the physical distraction concentrate on the opposite site of the body and the itching stops. Taking mind away from the painful body helps one to resist/tolerate body pain.
Some even say while activating Kundalini they see bright light, divine God and many more. All that is possible because the conscious mind becomes a slave to subconscious mind and one can visualise anything that their subconscious mind craves for. I, being a theist, connect my Sahasrara to my beloved Lord Shiva and try to see Him through my Ajna Chakra, taking me to a different world, where I feel no worries, no fear and no thoughts. The Omkara nada at the back of my head leads me to the state of Ananda. But efforts and commitment need to be put to achieve the dhyanasa sthiti.
Being a dietician I was under the impression that achievement of health will be possible only by eating proper food! But, now, I add meditation to the list. Mundane things are slowly losing their charm for me. My time spent on social media has come down drastically. Giving too much of importance to physical appearance has come down. I refused to appear with dyed hair, in spite of TV cameramen objection, before TV channels. A noticeable change has taken place in my reading habits and in the choice of books. My attachment to things and people is not causing any pain; instead, I am feeling that it is easier to stay detached. Sitting erect for hours does not cause any physical discomfort. Before my Kundalini experience, I used to get numbness all over. This is something I still cannot believe. Transformation in me was palpable. Finally, I have realised that a few kriyas, dharana and finally dhyana are the route to the ultimate bliss.
(The writer is a Consultant Dietician and Managing Director of Varenya Nutrition Concepts)