Raja Yoga Insights #8

Session 8 of the Raja Yoga training at the Ananda center. Focus on magnetization.

Had to spend the day writing this one up. The next session is tomorrow morning! Thought of combining the two into one report, but the mechanisms described here are so powerful, they need to be written up by themselves. At last, I believe I am finally beginning to grasp the concept of “internal magnetism”.

Ananda’s Raja Yoga course covers much 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!

Thu, 26 Oct: Session #8 – Magnetization

Asanas Getting More Strenuous!

Partly, that’s because I find myself doing things now that I wasn’t able to do several weeks ago — especially in asanas like the “chair” pose. Partly too, it’s because we’re beginning to add more strenuous poses to the practice.

(Every chapter in the Raja Yoga book adds a few new asanas. This week’s chapter added some that were pretty extreme. Thankfully, we didn’t even attempt them in tonight’s practice!)

As always, there was a great list of variations you could do, plus reminders to come out of the pose whenever you need to. But since I was doing more (and feeling good about it), I was exerting a lot more energy.

Energy & Magnetism

We know from electromagnetics that the greater the electrical energy in a circuit, the greater the magnetic force it exerts. Tonight’s speaker (Lakshmi) pointed that the energies we generate attract similar energies — energies that are either up lifting, or down pulling, depending on what we generate. (Generate negative, low energy, or hatred, and that’s what you attract — and what you are attracted to. Or generate uplifting energies, instead. Your choice!)

So we can think of the spine as a bar magnet. Keeping it straight allows the energy to flow. The flow we desire, of course, is generally upward, towards positive, uplifting energies — the source of enthusiasm, joy and, contentment.

Interestingly, in college I once wrote a paper called The 4 Joys of Successful Living. It wasn’t for a class or anything, it was just something that was inspired by I question I was asking at the time, “How is it possible to be both successful and happy.” What came to me at the time was anticipation (looking forward with relish), enthusiasm (acting with energy), satisfaction (the glow of a job well done), and contentment (a time of rest between the last activity and the next).

Today, I would add the concept of direction — of being guided to choose an activity to pursue that is in line with both with your inner guide’s direction and who you are (and/or want to be — which is just who are you, but has yet to made manifest) . Adding directionality of course, means that your efforts are rewarded in every possible way — whether or not they are successful. But the 4 joys are still a decent guide for taking action. :__)

One of the nice things about the talk was that the speaker (Lakshmi) demonstrated the power of internal magnetism by her very presence. Like all of the speakers in the series, she was wonderfully poised, calm, and well-spoken (qualities I admire and aspire to), but the magnetism radiating from her spiritual eye seemed particularly resonant.

Yogananda’s concept of dynamic, receptive faith came up, as well. This is the principle of actively pursuing the gift (whether in the form of divine healing, God’s grace, or some thing, opportunity, or quality you desire), and being ready and willing to receive it.

On that subject, Kriyananda quotes Yogananda in the Raja Yoga book (p. 298):

God’s love flows to you always. It is you who, by your love, completes the circuit, thereby generating the magnetism that can draw to yourself the very consciousness of infinity to come to you.

Yeah! I like that.

The concept of inner magnetism meanwhile (where like attracts like, rather than repels it) helps to explain why it is so — and in particular why gratitude is such a powerful force for attracting spiritual grace! (More on the subject in a bit.)

One other interesting analogy from the talk in the form of a Yogananda saying:

The sun shines equally on a lump of coal and a diamond. But one absorbs the light, and reflects it back as a multi-colored rainbow.

If you’re generating negative energy, you’re that lump of coal. The sunshine is there, but nothing is reflected. If you’re generating positive energy, you absorb the light, and reflect it to others in all its splendor.

Words and Magnetic Alignment

In the finishing talk, Shanti pointed out that words are channels of magnetic energy and that what you surround yourself with helps to determine how you will be magnetically aligned. As Yogananda said, environment is stronger than willpower.

Magnetically speaking, that statement means that your own positive/negative orientation (what you will to be) is inexorably drawn into alignment with the much stronger pull of the magnetic energies that surround you (your environment). So if you would be a positive person, seek the company of positive people! In my own case, I find that being at the Ananda center “lifts my game”, so to speak, just as my martial arts master did anytime I was involved in a project that was directed at making a better world. (Being positive was the price of admission. If you weren’t positive, you weren’t allowed to participate.)

Be the Change

Be the Change is an Ananda site where you can pledge to meditate for an amount of time you specify each day. (Make sure to keep it comfortable!) The idea is to create world peace by being at peace.

Need for (teaching) Flexibility

Almost became a disciple, today! I misheard things, alas, or I’d be on the way right now. I thought I heard that the people who came through the Yoga Teacher Training were developing a variety of programs that would be delivered at the Ananda Center.

My understanding, at that point, was that while the affirmations were required, that was the only requirement. A teacher could still create new programs. (I won’t be including affirmations for postures in the book, but I was prepared to happily include them in the Ananda version of the practice!)

It turns out I was wrong, alas. They don’t have a lot of restrictions, but one they do have is that only Ananda yoga is taught in their facilities.

It makes sense for them, of course. But disappointing for me. I was quite excited, too, for a while. Man! A program that would let me exercise my creativity? Sign me up! I’d be in teacher training in a heartbeat, and becoming a disciple not long after.

Alas, it was not to be. I can still give a workshop at the East/West bookstore, though. And what I have to offer is pretty ideal for a corporate program. So there are plenty of options. But I thought I had found my “home”. Sigh.

Oh, well. I had the same difficulty with Ipsalu Tantra, actually. It was nice having a template for a class structure to start from, but I found that I had other ways to do things that weren’t acceptable (like drawing on my Taiji and martial arts experience to make a more intense and authentic version of the Taiji-style exercises). So I didn’t go any further on that instructor-training path, either.

Being overly restrictive is a mistake I’m trying not to make in the teacher-information section of the book I’m writing. I love that Ananda Yoga teachers expect you to vary the practice you’re doing, so it suits your body. They essentially give you “permission” to do so (I would anyway!) and give you options, which are very helpful.

I want to apply the same idea to teachers. The “certification” process should recognize that they are true to the underlying principles of the practice. After that, what they do is entirely up to them! (The principles are mostly about how you do things.)

Along those lines, I owe Lexi Fisher and Kip Moore a debt of gratitude for working so hard to fit their Sexual Wholeness program into the Ipsalu mold. It was a fantastic workshop, full of early-life healing and spiritual expansion — and I never would have found it, if it weren’t part of Ipsalu’s offerings.

Magnetization Exercise

In the practicum portion of the evening, we practiced a magnetization exercise:

  1. Raise your positive energy in meditation.
  2. See the thing you desire be it an experience, an opportunity, a spiritual gift, or a thing.
  3. Gather that vision in your spiritual eye and project it outward.
  4. Ask for the power of the universe to join in that projection, in a unified flow.
    • Ask for confirmation that it is for the highest good of all, and it join if that is the case.
    • Note that energy comes in directly through the Mouth of God at the base of the skull, joining with the energy you generate from your root up to the top of your spine.
  5. Feel the sensations in your heart, of the vision satisfied.
    • It was noted that this step was mentioned in the book, but was glossed over.
    • But its significance can not be underrated! It is the essence of the magnetism.
  6. Expect the delivery of the gift, and generate gratitude (in advance!)
    • The instruction was to “be grateful for what you have”, but I suspect that’s because most of the time, people are grateful only after the fact.
    • The thing is, gratitude after the fact isn’t magnetic! It’s reciprocal.
    • Gratitude before the fact is magnetic — powerfully magnetic.
    • If there is one thing that my brushes with enlightenment taught me in my martial arts practice, it is the power of gratitude! But the notion of advance gratitude is something that came to me only recently. More on that subject below.

Continuing Insights

This is a short week, with another session Saturday morning, so continuing insights may be short!

ADVANCE Gratitude

During the practicum, as part of the magnetization process, we were instructed to experience the feelings that come with the fulfillment of your vision, and to generate gratitude “for what you have”.

Gratitude, of course, is an incredibly positive emotion that primes the pump, or completes the circuit, for a spiritual connection. But someone who is laboring or under duress may have a hard time finding something to be grateful for that they have already received- – especially if what they were grateful for is now gone!

I believe that advance gratitude is a more powerful way to achieve the same goal. Of course, it helps if you have already experienced a connection in the past. It’s a lot easier to be grateful in advance for something you have experienced before, and which you know is coming again. But if you haven’t, then give advance gratitude a try!

Here’s what I had to say about meditation at the Be the Change website:

It’s the most powerful practice on earth. With meditation, you can hear your inner guide and experience great joy. Go into the practice with the EXPECTATION of making that connection, and with ADVANCE GRATITUDE for it. You will be astonished at the gifts you receive, in return — gifts you can share with others!

About “Faith”

The idea of “advance gratitude” has been likened to the concept of “faith”. But that’s not a word I like to use, for the simple reason that it has two meanings — one good, one bad. Because in the end, “faith” is not a matter of believing. It’s a matter of knowing.

I like systems that don’t ask you take anything on faith — systems that say, “Try it. See if it works for you. If it does, keep it.” Those systems are scientific, to my way of thinking. The provide processes that are repeatable — maybe not in all cases, but in enough cases to remain popular. (And to make sure that something works, the systems that survive generally provide a variety of techniques.)

So by “faith”, I don’t mean “believe in something that can never be demonstrated or proved, just because I say so”, a request that is generally further compounded by things like, “believe me, because I am anointed by God” — which is also something you need to take “on faith”. So an idiotic, slavish, unsupported belief in something someone tells you, combined with belief in their infallibility, is not something I endorse. It’s the “bad” definition, to my mind.

The “good” definition of faith is simply, “expectation and advance gratitude”.

I have faith the sun will rise tomorrow. I have faith that if I smile at people, most of them will smile back.

And I have a faith that advance gratitude opens the door to a spiritual flow. If you have that kind of faith, the claim is that your faith will be rewarded.

Try it! See if it works for you. If it does, keep it! :__)

Becoming Magnetic

The difficulty with magnetizing yourself for something external (a soul mate, an opportunity, success) is that in the physical universe, there can be a significant delay between the outlay of energy and the return of the reward. That delay makes it more difficult to maintain a positive expectation!

So at the very least, it takes a certain amount of faith — and may take quite a while before the reward is seen, as well. (Although the stories of Yogananda and Kriyananda taking vacations with no money, and receiving all kinds of gifts as they did so, suggests that rewards may be immediate, as well!)

Now, I do have one set of experiences which suggest that magnetization of external events is possible. Long ago, I participated in an elevating and inspiring colloquium at Stanford, hosted by none other than Douglas Engelbart. I was generating positive energy continuously during that time, and opportunities came flooding to me.

But then came a big rejection. A little while later, I completely lost the positive vibe, and went back to my old negative self. Guess what? The opportunities dried up quicker than you look at them!

At the time, there was enough of a delay between the rejection and the negativity that I didn’t notice the connection. But now that I know myself better, and have the perspective of distance, I can see what happened.

The thing was, even while I was generating positive energy, and benefitting from it, I wasn’t sure that it was “the real me”. (When I went negative, I was certain that wasn’t the real me. But that wasn’t quite the truth either.)

You see, in my martial arts discipline I had learned to project positive energy, but there was still a lot going inside that made it hard to go in that direction! So every step forward generated a counteractive force that wanted to pull me back.

So, while I was generating magnetic energy and attracting good things to me, there was the very real difficulty that I didn’t feel all that magnetic, inside.

The solution, it seems to me, is to first change ourselves to become magnetic! We can then easily generate magnetic energy to attract other things into our lives.

The nice thing about a positive internal change, of course, is that it is immediate . There is virtually no time delay! As I reported to the group at the start of the lection portion of the evening: I love to pay bills! And clean! And do the other daily chores. And the transformation occurred literally overnight!

That was a way of relaying the success I had experienced as a result of using the great suggestions I had been given to address the fatigue I felt when facing those tasks. The process as described in the Anti-Procrastination Protocol. But it is important to note that the process can be used for other purposes, as well. (I initially called it the “Internal Change Protocol”, but somehow it just didn’t have the same ring to it.)

So at this point, a good process that is likely to be effective appears to be:

  1. Focus on some internal change you’d like to make. 
  2. Focus on becoming magnetic.
    • Make the internal change you need to be magnetic, so that magnetism is consistent with your self-image.
      (It remains to be seen whether anyone and everyone can “just do it”, or whether a lot of internal processing is required to remove the internal roadblocks. It may depend on the individual.
  3. Focus on your true desire, as prompted by your inner guide.
    • To the degree that you can meditate deeply and connect with your inner source of guidance, you will know that your desire is “true”, in the sense that it is in harmony with what it is best for all.
    • To the degree you can’t quite do that, or can’t be sure, do the best you can! Try to be concerned with the highest good for all, rather than purely selfish wish fulfillment, but it may very well be that what you are wishing for is the outer image of what you really need inside, in order to be a force for good in the world. In that case, it may be necessary to experience the outer fulfillment, if only to uncover its inner hollowness, so you stop imagining it as a solution, when it really isn’t.
    • My example of that principle would be a couple of BB-gun pistols I found for a couple of dollars at a garage sale. I took them home and had a wonderful half an hour or so, plunking away at targets in the back yard. In a very real sense, I scratched a “psychic itch” that had been with me since childhood, when none of our cowboy pistols actually shot anything! After half an hour I put them down, never to pick them up again. But for that half hour, they were grand!

Which Way is “Down”?

One thing that wasn’t quite clear in the discussions of magnetism and polarities is what “down” really is.

Clearly, fatigue, malaise, and a lack of energy is a “down” condition. I’ve certainly been afflicted at times. Low energy means low magnetism, certainly. And it may cause you attract (and be attracted to) low-energy people, which can be self-perpetuating, in the sense that a) you’re not challenged, and b) you don’t discover what energetic people do to stay energized.

Too, it is certainly possible to be energetically “negative”, at least for a while. Generating anger or hatred is an example of a negative energy that seeks to impede (or actively harm) the energies of others, rather than lifting and energizing them.

So clearly, magnetic energy has a directional component. Like any other force in the universe, it has both an amount and a direction.

But it seems to me that the definition of a “negative” force is one that acts to impede the energies of others, or that somehow manages to impede your own energy, as well. So “gluttony” is a “sin” to the extent that overindulging in foods that aren’t good for you makes you gain weight and lose energy (for some definition of “over”indulging, which tends to vary from person to person).

At any rate, it feels like we have now motivated the discussion of Yamas and Niyamas (coming up tomorrow morning). Those are the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of Yoga, which can now be defined as things that actively contribute to a strong energy force with a positive direction, or which impede that force (or re-direct it).

My question, though (to be answered in tonight’s readings and tomorrow’s class) is whether “earthy” is really the same as to “negative”.

In many Yoga and Western religious traditions, the two seem to be equated. But I am not sure they should be. As I wrote in Repression Causes Sexual Addiction, it was considered normal and natural for children to express themselves sexually in Polynesian societies. As a result, sex was not overly emphasized, and there was no sexual “deviation” of the kind seen in Western cultures.

So it may well be that the “earthy” direction is not “negative” at all. (After all: No sex, no children. No children, no us!) Similarly, a healthy diet satisfies you quite quickly. It is only an unhealthy diet that leaves you ravenously hungry all day long!

So is it a “sin” to “indulge” yourself in healthy foods that taste great, and to derive enormous sensual pleasure from them? I think not. In fact, it could be said that the path of spiritual growth is one that causes you to take enormous pleasure from small amounts of healthy food, so that you are fully and completely satisfied by very little.

On the other hand (my personal ambiguity is showing here), I note that the Perineal Lift (Mula Bandha) occurs in an upward direction, and that the oh-so-powerful Orbital Lift also occurs in an upward direction. So maybe “up” really is “away from the earth”.

Then too, we have our “animal nature” and limbic system or “lizard brain” which tends to have knee-jerk reactions to things, rather than conscious directions chosen for the good of all. But countering that, we have the force of a mother’s love, which can be fiercely protective, when the occasion arises.

Protection vs. Challenge

Finally, I would not that as my martial arts master used to instruct us, there is a difference between protecting yourself and challenging yourself!

If you only associate with totally positive people, how much good can you do? To help others, and to really grow yourself, you need to accept challenges.

Of course, you need to know your real limits! If you are fledgling plant, there is no point in subjecting yourself to the hot sun or bitter cold. You need a warm, protected environment to grow. And when you grow larger, there is no point in arrogantly taking on challenges that are much bigger than you can manage. As Yogananda would say, environment trumps willpower!

But at some point, challenges that are within your ability are the way to grow. They are a way to make a positive difference in the world, and to increase your capabilities — even if it’s as small a thing as giving a smile and expressing your appreciation to the person behind the counter!

There is also the notion of “challenging” yourself by going inside to find the greasy dirt and grime. Remember the glass that settles down to be nice and clear after awhile? The water is clear, but the sediment is still there! Dredging it up to run it through a filter gives you a really clean glass of water.

Tantra processing is like that — going down into the body where your automatic reactions are stored, finding the causes of those reactions, and airing them out in the light. In the process, they are reduced in intensity, and they no longer control your actions so totally unconsciously.

They may still control your reactions, for awhile. But by being more aware of them, in time the amount of control they wield can be diminished. And it fact, the reactions they prompt you towards might be perfect for the situation. Or they might not be. Becoming conscious of them lets you exercise discretion in the matter!

Intuition and Teaching

The point, to my mind, is this:

  • The goal of meditation is union — a connection with a higher source that gives you guidance.
  • The goal of a Yoga practice is achieve that union.
  • In the process, and as a direct result of that connection, you develop the capacity for intuition.
  • The first place to apply that intuition (other than in your own life) is your Yoga practice!
  • It would be most helpful to have a guru, at that point (one that helps you make the most of your intuitions, naturally).
  • When you’re a teacher, the next place to apply that intuition is in what you teach!

To that end, don’t be surprised if what you feel called to teach is different from what you had planned! It’s good to have a plan, of course — if only as a source of comfort, knowing you have an outline to follow. But when you get in the room with your students, be open to the possibility that your plan will change!

After all, who of us can know what is best for everyone? That’s the whole point of the higher connection. There may be people in the room who need something slightly different than you were planning to teach. When you get there and feel the energies from others, you may well be inspired to do something different.

My martial arts master, in fact, never had a plan when she got up to speak — and she gave talks all the time! She just opened her heart to the message spirit wanted to deliver, and she conveyed it. (The tricky bit is not being too influenced by what you need. If you and the others were doing the same things, then your needs might well reflect theirs. For example, if you were all on a hike together, then your desire for a light session that focuses on calves and hamstrings may well reflect theirs. But if you were on a hike and they weren’t, that intuition you’re feeling may well be a reflection your body’s needs, rather than a reflection of spirit’s connection with others!)

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