Raja Yoga Insights #15

Raja Yoga Insights #15

Session 15 of the Raja Yoga training at the Ananda center. Focus on Healing.

Note:
Ananda’s Raja Yoga course covers more than I have described here. These are my personal highlights — the things that were, for me, either new, especially interesting, or especially illuminating. As they mention in the very first session, what they teach in this course is not unique to Ananda. Raja Yoga is an ancient science that belongs to the world. It is the “kingly” (raja) Yoga in that sense that it spans many different branches of Yoga practice—organizing them and devoting resources (your time and energy) to each in turn, for the good of the whole (you).

As incredibly illuminating and inspiring as the program has been, there are a few places where I feel it could be improved. Should you take the course (and I highly recommend that you do), you might want to print out the PDF of suggested enhancements for this already exceptional course of instruction. I hope they wind up producing as much benefit for you as they did for me!

Note:
The title of this session was “The Yogic Scheme of Life”. I can’t say that I learned a lot about that in this session, though. Seems like we covered all of that in the Yamas and Niyamas and whatnot. But in the practicum, we focused on healing techniques. Learned quite a bit there.

Preliminary Insights

The Value of Knowing Why

It’s really important to me to understand why things work. It isn’t to everyone. Realizing that made me think of why it is so helpful to understand why.

It takes a lot of work to do that, of course. A lot of intellectual effort, trial-and-error exploration, and the setting up and knocking down of hypotheses. But the reward for doing that is the ability to “take the best and leave the rest”.

The image that sprang to mind was of a fan, divided into two halfs. The left half of the fan is all the things that are taught in the tradition you study. The right half of the fan is all of the things taught in other traditions. (It’s a lot bigger, actually. But it feels about the same. You assume that what you don’t know is maybe as much as you do know.)

On the bottom sides of the fan are the “superfluous” things. The things that each tradition does that don’t really make a difference — they’re just “tradition”. The middle segment on each side of the fan are the things that really work, that are unique to that tradition.

even common techniques have additional wrinkles

In the middle are techniques shared between your tradition and one or more other traditions. That section is mostly on your side of the fence, because it covers stuff you know. But overlaps a bit onto the other side of the fence, because there are always a few wrinkles that add extra depth.

For example, in the Raja Yoga course I found, among other things) a couple of wrinkles for Jalandhara Bandha, the “focus on the 3rd eye” (or Orbital Lift), and the process for curling the tongue in the Cooling Breath — and those little wrinkles made all the difference in the effectiveness of the techniques!

So clearly, having access to multiple traditions has its benefits. For one thing, you can compare similar techniques. That helps you identify the things that really help, the things that are the same, and the things that make no difference. All of which helps you to create a practice that works for you.

Of course, you can do all that without understanding anything about why things work. That’s simply a benefit of having different versions of the same practice to compare.

But I’ve found that going a little more deeply into why helps to guide the discovery process, to find new things that work, to find variations on existing techniques that work even better, and just to satisfy the mind’s desire to understand.

For example, in Kriyananda’s book, I learned the principle that muscle tension generates an energy flow when the tension is released. With that principle in mind, and seeing the effect of the Subtle Perineal Lift, in addition to the Orbital Lift, it became clear that muscle tension activates energy centers. (Whether you stretch it or compress it, it generates a pulse of electricity, just like a piezoelectric crystal.)

That’s something that Lexi Fisher once shared with us in her Sexual Wholeness class, when she noted the perineum could be pushed outward, as well as pulled inward — and that it was equally effective for promoting an energy flow. (So part of my realization arose from the insight she shared.)

With that understanding to guide me, I began looking for other muscular contractions that stretch or compress energy centers. And I found them — for each of the 12 energy centers I have managed to identify. (I know that “7” is standard. But the dantien makes 8, and the medulla and the 3rd eye are really different centers, each of which can be activated separately. That makes 9. Then there is the fact that Aswini “mudra” activates the kunda gland. That’s 10. Then there is point at the clavicle that connects to the heart — 11. Finally, there is the back of the neck–which seems to activate both the throat and the medulla — 12.)

Anyway, you see the point. Knowing that muscle tension activates energy centers has given me the ability to look for ways to activate the standard energy centers, to discover new ones (new to me, at least), and to figure that some techniques which seem very different on the surface are actually doing the very same thing! (So “lifting your eyes” to gaze “at the 3rd eyes” is actually achieving the same effect as Moola Bandha — and that makes sense!)

The Value of Diving Deep

After all of that about comparing and combining techniques, it was fascinating to discover (in retrospect) that later in the evening I made the case for the “opposing” viewpoint.

I didn’t even know what I was doing at the time, but while we were eating our pot-luck supper (scrumptious, as always), one of the fellows (I remember his name! Yay! Good for me! It was Michael!) shared that he had been doing this and that and had noticed various similarities and differences.

At that point, I felt compelled to share a quick aphorism that Grandmaster used to tell, plus a story of my own. (All of the speakers at Ananda spice up their talks with stories they tell from their own experience. Stories are like sugar wrapped around the pill. They make it easier to swallow!)

Grandmaster used to say that if you want to find water — the spring of inner joy and connection — then you have to dig one hole, deep. Running around from place to place digging many shallow holes won’t get you there.

So I encouraged him to pick one path and take it as far as he can, to whatever degree was appropriate for him. (It was only later that I realized that on the one hand I benefited from the ability to compare, and on the other I also benefited even more from going deeply into any path I pursued.)

Then I shared my story: At one point, when I was playing music, I picked up a new instrument every 6 months or so. (Each instrument made such a beautiful sound. And surely that one was easy to play….)

So I learned to play two instruments a year. I did that for 1o years. At the end of that time, I could play 20 different instruments — and be almost good enough to make good music on all of them. (The way I usually say it, to be funny, is I could play 20 instruments — badly. But the real truth is that I could almost play 20 instruments reasonably well.)

I finished with the main point: Had I played any one of those instruments for 10 years, I could have been a maestro.  (That’s true, too. Because 10 years is about what it takes to really master an instrument — to make it your own, and become one with it.)

The Path of Progress

So again, I encouraged him to pick one path and go deep. That’s the very opposite of the “comparative analysis” I have found to be so valuable. But on reflection I think that a certain depth is required to make the comparisons useful. (So “it works for energy flows” is my main guiding principle — but it was only because I dove deep that I developed that awareness.)

I suspect then, that mankind can advance spiritually using the same kind of techniques that have proven so powerful for scientific and technological advancements in the West: By sharing insights and building on each other’s work.

The problem with the “guild” system of knowledge that was practiced in the West for 1500 years (and that is still pretty much the hallmark of deep spiritual teaching) is that when one school makes an advance, only people in that school know of it. And since they are generally not permitted to tread other paths, they aren’t able to figure out what is superfluous in their own practice, or add useful enhancements or new techniques from other practices.

(I’ve noticed that the really good schools do encourage people to try other things, to compare, and to know for certain that they are on the right path, should they choose to go deep in that one.)

But the process, it appears to me, has to go something like this:

  1. A person dives deeply enough into their tradition to gain insight and eventual mastery.
  2. With that background, they can learn from other traditions, in a process of comparison and contrast, adding and jettisoning things, as appropriate.
  3. In the process, they create a new tradition that combines the best of things they have been exposed to.
  4. They make that knowledge available to others — some of whom will dive deeply enough to gain insight and eventual mastery.
  5. Those people can then learn from other traditions, ….
  6. And so on, in a repeating spiral of spiritual advancement, both in terms of the techniques taught and the manner of teaching them.

Thu, 7 Dec, 2017

Session #15 – Healing

Raja Yoga = “Royal Union”

Interesting translation of the term in the talk Rose gave. That one hadn’t occurred to me. (I always translated “Raja” into “king”.

But I think the real thing that distinguishes Raja Yoga is it’s focus on the energy center in the head. (Bhakti Yoga focuses on the energy center in the heart, Jnana Yoga focuses on the content of the head–aka Vedanta, or the study of the Vedas, which explain how to live a life), while Hatha Yoga focuses on the body.)

Palm Energy

In the practicum, we practiced energy-healing techniques. We started with the standard exercise for feeling energy in the palms: Rub hands together briskly then bring your hands in front of you with palms facing, and feel the energy between them.

It was interesting to have a rule of thumb for the rubbing though. The instruction was “at least 30 times”. That was helpful — if only because the instructor spent more rubbing before moving on. It definitely increased the energy sensation.

This time, too, I had a strong sense of energy, rather than the subtle sensation I have typically experienced with that exercise. I suspect it was because of all the energy-flow techniques I’ve been using more-or-less throughout the day!

But I particularly noticed the energy sensations, not in my palms, but in the heels of my hands. (No idea whether that’s good, bad, or normal. It’s just what was.)

As I moved my hands slightly closer together, I felt a definite sense of resistance. As I moved them slightly farther apart, a definite weakening of that sensation. So I sat there, pulsing them towards each other and away, over and over, feeling the sensations.

As my hands cooled, I noticed I needed to bring them closer together to retain the feeling of resistance. But a certain point, there was no need to bring them closer together. That seemed to be an “energy baseline”, of sorts. One could assume that I was generating enough energy internally that the warmth of the hands made no difference.

Note:
It is also possible that entirely different sensations are at work. Sitting here, experimenting a bit, I notice similar sensations when my palms are facing each other, even at some distance away. So it is entirely possible that the simple act of moving them slightly creates a sensation that feels like an energy-sensation.

On the other hand, as I write this morning, the sensation in the heels of the palms is much reduced — but I also have that sensation in the palms, and even in the tips of my fingers, at about the same level.

But possibly the most important observation is that, if the hands are held steady, the energy sensation is so subtle as to be nearly invisible. But if the hands are moved slightly closer together and slightly farther apart (a fraction of an inch in each direction), then the energy sensation is palpable.

Healing

In this Ananda version of the technique, we visualized the person to heal (or the whole world!) and after rubbing hands together, lifted our arms up, palms out, and sent healing energy through the palms and 3rd eye.

Typically, when done as a group, the instruction is simply to “lift the arms and send the energy out”. The third eye isn’t mentioned in a group setting, so I found the instruction helpful.

Interestingly, what wasn’t mentioned was directing the energy to the medulla of the recipient. Turns out that was an aspect of the Raja Yoga technique covered in the 2nd or 3rd night that Ananda doesn’t include in their version of the practice.

That’s a shame, because I felt a real sense of connection when I focusing my energy flow to the recipients medulla.

Thinking about the Fifth Dimension, made a difference, too. If the circuit forms through a fifth dimension, then it makes sense that the healing energy could work regardless of distance. (My sense is that it may even work regardless of time. That’s an interesting prospect! We could go back in time and heal our history!)

But ignoring time, for the moment. The energy arriving at the recipients medulla (inside their body, from that extra dimension) is simply “spiritual energy”, or the energy of the cosmos, or God’s breath — however you want to think of it. And the energy you’re generating (or directing actually), is helping to expedite that flow.

So in some interesting way, the “Whoo whoo” concept of energy-healing at a distance began to make sense!

Quiver Healing — 15 minutes!

Tonight, I heard that the Quivering Healing technique is supposed to be done for about 15 minutes! Wow. That would do something, for sure. I don’t come anywhere close to that, and it still makes a difference!

Continuing Insights

Positive At Work

Began doing some part time work for my old boss, on his latest project. (Writing technical docs — something I’m pretty good at it.)

The energy sensation and positive energy was incredible. Multiple things came together to make it happen:

  • The people
    The people there are terrific — something I was only partially aware of, before. But the energy we generated together and shared was fantastic. Lots of clever observations and laughter.

    • It’s still in start-up mode, so furnishings are Spartan. I set up a table in the corner and put my laptop on it. So Amit commented I had a “corner office” — all the more funny since a week earlier I had shared a story about how managed to snag a corner cubicle in other company. (The only cubicle available was the one they designated as the “library”, so no one was overly favored. I was the first in and the last to leave for three months straight, until everyone got used to the fact that the office was “mine”!)
    • I brought in coconut oil to put in my coffee. When asked why, I said it was because it was healthy. One of the folks there (all of whom are from India) said that I was like Columbus — when I was born, I was looking for India, but got lost!
    • And like that. Just good fun and laughter.
  • Orbital Lift
    • I was able to roll with those people and join in laughter — even if directed at me. The energy I was generating was strong, and magnetic.
  • Self Image
    • I was doing what I was doing, and it was good to be doing that. I wasn’t suffering, wishing I was working on my Yoga book or one of my other books.
    • Instead, I spent an hour writing before I left for work, which meant I had taken a step towards my ultimate goal. But like, Shanti said, when you know that you already are the person you so want to be, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. (For more, see the Anti-Procrastination Protocol and the Personal Change Program.)
  • The Time
    • I’m doing it as a part-time gig, so I didn’t have to rush to get there, and knew I didn’t have to stay all day.
    • That gave me the time to get the sleep I needed before getting up, and time to do the most important writing of the day before I left. And I knew that I wouldn’t be exhausted when I left — that I would have the energy for another meditation session in the evening, to clear my brain of the day’s work and study a bit, to set up my awareness for the following day.
  • Karma Yoga
    • In addition, what I was doing was an act of service. I was helping him to get his company off the ground, and helping everyone associated with the project.
    • I went in with the goal of generating the same positive, helpful energy I generate when helping to set up for the Raja Yoga sessions at Ananda.
  • Hot Water, Coconut Oil, and Honey
    • Late in the day, when I started getting tired, I needed to take a break and have a pick-me-up. It was too late for coffee, though. So I had a bit of honey and coconut oil in a cup of hot water.
    • It was spectacularly energizing, with zero caffeine!

In short, the energy-experience of being at work was awesome. I had the stress-relief of knowing I was generating a bit of income, without any of the negativity associated with “having to work”.  (Even after I needed to ask several questions, and after several possible ideas turned out to be inappropriate for this particular project. That didn’t matter at all — unlike in the past. Instead, my only goal was to make sure I was doing what really needed to be done!)

So when I left, I not only wasn’t tired, I was energized.

Checkout Blessing

I was in the grocery store, feeling happy after my positive session at work. When I got to the checkout line, the fellow behind the counter was a little inward — a bit introspective. I simply observed it and, without any conscious thought, an extremely practical blessing occurred to me. So I passed it on to him:

May your shift fly by, and may you be happy at the end of it.

The effect was electric. He looked straight at me, eye to eye. You could see the orbital lift his eyes, and they shined a bit. He felt seen, and understood. He felt companionship, and a sense of love. He was so happy. After a second, he said “Thanks. That really helped…”

It was good to connect like that.

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