Rāja Yoga (Raja Yoga), answers how the mind is controlled. In my last post, as I generally explained; it is one of the Four Paths of Yoga. If you don’t know what are the 4 Paths of Yoga yet, take a look at my post: 4 Paths of Yoga; Deepen Your Yoga Practice.
Rāja Yoga is a systematic analysis compiled by Patañjali Maharaj. In Rāja Yoga, mind is controlled step-by-step starting with some rules to apply, asanas, breathing exercises and meditation. And eventually the aim is to reach higher states of consciousness. This path is also known as ashtanga (in Sanskrit; eight) yoga and it has 8 limbs:
1. Yamas– Restraints
Ahimsa means non-violence, non-injury. It doesn’t mean only physical violence, it also contains mental violence. Briefly, it is non-violence in thoughts, words and actions.
Satya means truthfulness, not telling lies. Truthfullness and honesty in words transcends the person in a good way. Even it is believed that if you don’t tell lies, whatever you speak it becomes true.
Asteya is non-stealing, non-covetedness and lack of jealousy. The thing that you don’t have, don’t contribute to your path. Also the things that contribute to your path will find you anyway.
Brahmacarya means chastity, sublimation of sexual energy. According to Rāja Yoga sexuality must be experience with awareness.
It means not accepting gifts and bribes. Bribe is obvious. But why is non-accepting gifts here? Here it means that you need to share what is more than enough for you, what is you abundantly have. Can be a talent, knowledge that you can share with the others whom don’t have it, or simply the rich helps the poor…
2. Niyamas – Observances
Purity internally and externally. İçsel ve dışsal temizliktir. We need to keep the Self pure as well as our bodies.
Santosa means contentment. We should have constant consciousness that any moment, everything we have can go. Also we should have the faith that whatever happens, it happens for a good reason. In any condition, we should be content about our life, our being.
Tapas is austerity. It is also known ascetism in Yoga. Fasting for self control, waking up at 6.30 in the morning instead of 7, so whatever you do in order to put yourself out of your comfort zone, means Tapas.
Study of religious scripture and contemplation.
e) Isvara Pranidhana:
It is surrendering of the ego, worshipping of the Lord. Surrendiring to the Self and absolute. Meaning that the result is not important, the important thing is the process and doing every action with awareness.
3. Asanas (Steady Poses)
For spiritual practice, as for any other pursuit in life, a healthy and strong system is also essential. Steady mind means steady body. In order to focus the mind on one point, asanas are being used and the body is forgotten this way.
4. Pranayama- Control of Vital Energy
Prana; the vital energy, yama; control. The physical nerves as well as the astral energy tubes; nadis must be pure and strong enough to withstand various mental phenomena. Also it helps to supress disorientations that can occur during the practice of turning inwards.
Pranayama is our vital force, our breath. Through controlling the breath, we can control our vital energy also.
I am going to write some techniques regarding pranayama, the very essential part of mind control soon.
5. Pratyahara- Withdrawal of The Senses from Objects
Pratyahara means disconnecting the mind from the outgoing tendencies of five senses. Before meditation, it is essential to apply this technique.
Assume that you are meditating, in a cross-legged position and fully concentrated. But in the 5th minute the five senses start to occupy your mind, don’t they? You hear something and a thought comes to your mind triggering many thoughts. Or your knees, upper back start hurting. Now you are in the physical level. No escape!
This is a state that you can pass with genuine exercise.
6. Dharana- Concentration
In dharana step, focusing the mind on one point, you can control it before meditation. For example, with the help of some techniques like reciting mantras, following the breath or choosing a focal point make the mind still. Mind control is obtained. Through this state of mind, we can reach the silence when we are awake as in the deep sleep. After keeping this state still, different than sleeping state, mind becomes a tool to witness the Self, experiencing meditation.
7. Dhyana- Meditation
Dhyana or meditation, is defined as an unbroken flow of thought towards God or the thought of ‘I am’, to exclusion of other sensual perception. In a still mind, meditation is achieved. For a new practitioner, meditation may not come in the first place. However, with a genuine practice of first 6 steps, the person can achieve meditation.
In this state, the brain waves are so stable. There is no physical or mental body. The person is the experiencer of the awareness beyond mind.
8. Samadhi- Super Conscious State
Samadhi is the state of higher consciousness, pure awareness. It is the supreme state beyond explanations. Samadhi, transcends all ordinary, sensory experience as well as time, space and causality. It is the place where ‘I am’ and the ‘Is-ness’ is. In this state, only the joy of pure awareness can be experienced.
Source: Sivananda Yoga Teachers’ Training Manual- 2016
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