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- Raja Yoga – Series Index
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Session 13 of the Raja Yoga training at the Ananda center. Energy Anatomy, Part I
More questions than answers in the session this week, but a lot of insights sparked by the reading, leading up to it.
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!
Energy Anatomy: Initial Insights
Reading in the Raja Yoga book for this week’s session, I found “the heart produces a magnetic energy that lifts kundalini upward”, or words to that effect (p. 381). That made sense. I’ve been wondering why, when talking about opening the heart, the book and the course have still maintained focus on the 3rd eye. I wondered: Why not focus on the heart?! That’s what we did in my martial arts meditations, and it certainly makes sense.
The book went on to say that even more important than focusing on the heart chakra itself was focusing on the qualities of the heart: love, devotion, compassion, etc. I think both are important.
That section of the book also provides admonitions to draw it upward from above, rather than forcing it upward from below. That makes a lot of sense, too. When drawn up, it comes gently, and is channeled into positive directions. And you know that the granthis (psychic “knots” at the 3rd eye, heart, and throat) have been dissolved to the point that the flow is unimpeded. When forced from below (or with the aid of artificial substances), anything can happen!
Oddly enough, the concept of the granthis has not yet come up in this course. This web page (The 3 Granthis) has a terrific, succinct description, and a great picture:
Brahma granthi functions in the region of mooladhara chakra. It implies attachment to physical pleasures, material objects and excessive selfishness. It implies the ensnaring power of tamas — negativity, lethargy and ignorance.
Vishnu granthi operates in the region of anahata chakra. It is associated with the bondage of emotional attachment and attachment to people and inner psychic visions. It is connected with rajas — the tendency towards passion, ambition and assertiveness.
Rudra granthi (“Rudra” is another name for Shiva) functions in the region of ajna chakra. It is associated with attachment to siddhis, psychic phenomena and the concept of ourselves as individuals.
Ok. End of digression. Back to the Heart Lift.
As I was meditating, it occurred to me wonder if, like the Orbital Lift and the Perineal Lift, there was also a Heart Lift. I looked for it, and think I found it!
I feel it as an upward and outward pull in the chest cavity. Like the Orbital Lift and Subtle Perineal Lift, there is a mild physical sensation of a muscle in action, but little outward movement. It is accompanied by feelings of love and devotion, too, like a child looking up to its mother.
I note, too, that the existence of the Heart Lift fills a gap in the Sacred Rule of 3, adding a third “lift” to the series.
It also seems that like the other chakras, it may be possible to lift the heart in one of three directions: up and forward, straight up, or up and backward.
I feel the “up and forward” direction most strongly, at the moment. But there is plenty of room for experimentation! If each of the three major chakras can be lifted in three ways, there are 3x3x3 combinations! (21 of them!).
It is also possible that those “directional lifts” apply to all of the other chakras, as well. That’s too many combinations to contemplate at the moment, though. I’m satisfied with the three lifts that correspond to the 3 major chakras, and the 3 corresponding granthis!
Light Breaking through a Blockage
After finding the Heart Lift during the middle-of-the-night meditation, this insight came to me as a waking.
I was envisioning “opposition” or “obstruction” of some kind. (External opposition would be felt at the solar plexus. An internal energy challenge at the dantien, a health challenge would be at the root. The challenge of excess sexual desire would be at the sacral center — an interesting combination of an external and internal challenge!)
That opposition could also be in the form of an obstruction, or energy blockage (granthi).
What I saw was rays of pure white light shining through the dark area — penetrating it, breaking it up, and beginning to dissolve it. (Eventually, I see the darkness consumed by a ball of pure white energy.)
I saw the spinal wave assisting in that process, as well. (The spinal wave is something I get from the “Wave Table” at my chiropractor’s office. It’s great for loosening up the spine. Between sessions, I find that the easiest way to do it is while lying on my side — so I make part of my waking up routine whenever I think of it.)
This morning, I saw the spinal wave helping to move the pure white light into and through the dark area at my heart and solar plexus. At the time, it felt like solar plexus. But the heart is an area I’m still trying to open, and that’s a major granthi location, so in retrospect, I suspect it was actually the heart.
I suspect, too, that the Heart Lift mentioned earlier created something of a magnetic attraction, drawing the “spiritual light at the root” upwards, to and through that area. (The Raja Yoga mentions in passing, “the spiritual light at the root”, as a powerful force for enlightenment — after which it is totally silent on the subject! It isn’t dealt with in the Anatomy Part I chapter. My hope is that it is dealt with in Part II. In any case, I have a note to query someone who may have insights. Shanti!)
Don’t Take Credit!
This is a reminder to myself, not to take too much credit for these things. I suppose I deserve a bit of credit for the insights. To the degree they help others find their way, I can accept that. But as Kriyananda says in his book, the grace of God running through your system is the real power. So taking credit for the lights is a lot like the light switch taking credit for the electricity! It’s important to flip the switch. But then, experience the flow!
(My thanks also to Herbert Barkmann, who got me to realize that the Orbital Lift is a perfect antidote for praise!)
I’ve been experimenting with this for a few days, mostly as I wake up. Still have some tinkering to do, but so far it looks something like this:
- Orbital Lift to get the energy lift started (e.g. create a vacuum, make room for it, draw it up)
- Begin inhaling
- Subtle Perineal Lift to help move the energy along
- Heart Lift to draw it up to the heart.
(May want to do this before the Subtle Perineal Lift, or do all three at once. Not sure.
- Orbital Lift to bring energy up past the heart and clavicle to the spiritual eye
- Relax the Orbital Lift and the Heart Lift.
- Further relax the Heart Lift; and relax the Perineal Lift.
- Feel God’s healing energy entering through the Mouth of God
It may make sense to lift all three when inhaling, hold them with the in breath, then relax all three when exhaling, and keep them relaxed while holding the out breath.
(Interestingly, the Hong Sau technique is taught without any sort of hold on the out breath. But for my entire life, that slight pause has been a most important part of breathing!)
“Spirit” = Energy!
In fact, it is now possible to define (for the first time in my life, at least) the word “spirit” that occurs in the body-mind-spirit triumvirate. Spirit is the awareness of (as well as the strength and quality of) the energy you experience.
Now, some people seem to be sensitive to external energies. But in reality, I suspect that they are simply more acutely aware of the way that external energies impinge on them. In other words, they are mostly aware of the energy they are experiencing within themselves — but so acutely that minor changes precipitated by harmonic resonance (or interference) with external energy sources are perceived.
The strength of the energy would correspond to its amplitude. While the quality of the energy would correspond to its frequency. So “uplifting” energies are of a higher/finer frequency, while a “strong” energy flow (at whatever frequency) can be said to be more “magnetic”, in the sense that it has a greater impact on others, and induces greater resonance, like a stronger broadcasting station.
The bottom line here is that once you begin to experience internal energy flows, you can begin to understand what is meant by “spirit” — once you realize that the words describe the same experience!
Mind and Emotions
Today, thoughts about “Mind” expanded into a deeper understanding of “Emotion”. Once I understood that “Spirit” was Energy, the next questions were: What is Mind?, and Where do Emotions fit into the picture?
Of course, the there is another spectrum that is frequently mentioned: Body – Emotions – Mind. That is another way that things tend to get divided up — which led to the questions. Because if “The Rule of 3” is valid, and if the way we think about things needs to correspond to the sets of 3 we can internally observe in our energy systems, then the two quite different triumvirates of Body-Emotions-Mind and Body-Mind-Spirit need to be reconciled! (Especially if spirit is not equivalent to Emotions, which it most certainly isn’t.)
On reflection, I think that the Body-Emotions-Mind division is quite wrong. I think that Emotions = Mind, and that “Body” is an important subcomponent of both!
Of course, we often think of “Mind” as involving only purely intellectual activity, but in reality it has greater scope than that — and the Sacred Rule of Three helps to organize things in an understandable way.
Let’s start by understanding the emotions we were born with — what my martial arts master would call “Nature’s Laws”, as opposed to “Man-made Law” like what word to use to express something, or how to behave in public (whether you eat with your hands or use utensils; bow, shake hands, or rub noses in greeting; etc.)
No one had to teach us how to laugh when tickled, or how to cry when hurt. Those emotions are hardwired in the Limbic system — as well as the knowledge of how far our arm will reach and how much force to exert to pick up a glass. The conscious intellect isn’t involved in figuring out those things, but there is a heck of a lot of processing going on, nonetheless.
We now know that there is a lot of processing going in the heart and gut, as well. Many little neurons doing their thing, all below the level of conscious activity. All of those activities are part of the “physical mind”, or subconscious mind.
Then there are the emotions we’re more consciously aware of — the likes or dislikes we have for different things. As well as analytical processing like 2+2=4. Those are the conscious mind at work.
Finally, there are the superconscious processes — the ones that emerge in our evolving neocortex, where the “spiritual eye” is located. Those come in meditation, and represent the kind of mental processing (or “mind”) that we’re trying to bring past the edge of the meditation mat, and into our daily lives.
The resulting 3×3 (sacred) table looks like this:
|Neocortex||Higher emotions, Intuition,|
Perception of oneness
|Conscious||Cortex||Thinking, Analyzing||Likes and dislikes,|
|Limbic System||Physical Movement||Fear, pain, pleasure|
Could Our Dual Sun be Arriving?
A huge number of insights have been occurring, of late. More than normal, even for me! Of course, the Raja Yoga course has sparked most of them — but even so, my meditations have been unusually productive!
In the first session, I think it was, they covered the “Great Cycle” — the cosmic cycle that is measured by the precession of the equinox, that takes 24,000 for one revolution. And of course it is said that we go through an advanced age of enlightenment, and descend again into a period of darkness, only to return once more, and so on…
The “explanation” given for the rise and fall of human consciousness during those periods (false, I think), is that the Earth is closer to the galactic center at some points during it’s travels, and that for some indefinable reason that negligible difference (negligible on a galactic scale, at least) somehow produces an age of enlightenment.
But I think a better explanation of the idea comes from the idea that we are in a dual-star system (probably with Sirius). For one thing, we now know that multiple-star systems are the norm, rather than the exception. So it’s not as radical an idea as it first appeared to be.
Another interesting factoid is that Sirius is itself a dual-star system, with a visible Sirius-A and gravitationally dense dwarf star, Sirius-B.
Now then, if that star system is approaching us, the overall effect might well be to lighten gravity! And if even our thoughts have gravity, maybe they fly higher as well.
Now, “gravity” of course, is a highly suspect proposition. We have lots of mathematical models that let us predict its behavior with extreme accuracy, but zero understanding of what it really is! (Recent measurements of “gravitational waves” notwithstanding. Some debunking efforts have already begun.)
Going to YouTube University, as I have been (“YouTube U”, as I affectionately call it), I have been intrigued by models of the “electrical universe”, the behavior of plasma (the fourth state of matter, a superhot gas), and the actual of shape and behavior of electromagnetic force fields.
Now, in the Electrical Universe model, there is no such thing as “gravity”. There is simply (and only) electromagnetism, which can nicely explain everything we observe in the physical universe, from photons and electrons up to planets and galaxies — without the need for “black holes”, “dark matter”, and “dark energy”, all of which have huge theoretical problems, and which never have been (and never can be) observed.
So, yeah. I am a fan of the Electromagnetic Universe theory (which, I suspect, is a better name for it than the “Electrical Universe” theory — but either one will do.
I bring that up, because if “lesser gravity” is the explanation for things like the ability to build the pyramids and higher thought processes, there is the problem that the effects would only be good for half the day (when the external gravity was pulling away from the earth). But things would much heavier the other half of the day — perhaps even crushingly so, which would not be good for progress. But clearly, we are progressing, moving from the dark ages toward a more enlightened state, so the gravity model makes a lot less sense that some sort of electromagnetic influence.
As an explanation of precession, too, the dual-star theory works nicely — because the speed of precession has not been constant! Instead, it has been speeding up. That makes sense if we’re approaching a distant star. It makes a lot less sense if it’s some sort of wobble in the earth, or some sort of rotation of the solar system. (Something I would never have known, were it not for YouTube U!)
Now then, if we are beginning to approach a companion star, and if there is an electromagnetic effect, it would make sense that the effect would not be dependent on where the Earth happened to be in its daily rotational cycle. And if that effect has the appearance of “lightening gravity” in some way that has yet to be explained, then it could well help to explain how the pyramids got to be built, and why are thoughts are flying higher!
Ok. End of the cosmology notes. That stuff has been sitting with me since the first session. Today, it decided to come out. :__)
Learn more: Explaining the Yugas
It’s interesting. Yesterday, I was next to useless. Back was hurting, brain was on hold, and I couldn’t do much of anything. Today, I’m buzzing. Can’t stop writing. And the back isn’t hurting a bit!
It would be interesting to see if effect created by the huge rotating magnet that is the Earth has some effect on that — perhaps in conjunction with solar flares, proximity to the moon, or environmental situations like pollution or pollen.
(I’ve tried looking at bio-rhythms, but whatever the pattern is, it’s too complex for a simple tracking system!)
Thu, 16 Nov: Session #13 – Energy Anatomy I
Where Everything Starts
It was mentioned that “the medulla is where the first cells form”. That seems to be pretty close to the truth! This Wikipedia page on embryogenesis gives a lot of information I find hard to digest, but from what I can tell:
- It takes several days for the fertilized egg to make it’s way to the uterus and become implanted there.
- Day 7, the primitive streak (which becomes the “neural tube” and eventually the spine) is formed.
- At that point, the point that becomes the perineum and the point that becomes the medulla begin to move away from each other. (That is what I infer, at least.)
- Then: “Late in the fourth week, the superior part of the neural tube flexes at the level of the future midbrain—the mesencephalon. Above the mesencephalon is the … (future forebrain) and beneath it is the … (future hindbrain).
For the moment, I assume that the mesencephalon is essentially the same as the medulla, that the forebrain is the cortex and the future neo-cortex, and that hindbrain is the lizard brain, or limbic system. (I’m doing a bit of guessing here, but that interpretation is consistent with the statement that was made.
The thing was, iirc, Tantra likes to say that the perineum is where the first cells form! But if my reading is accurate, both statements are correct! The start together, move apart, and then evolve independently, but in similar ways!
Medulla and Perineum: Similarities
Now, the medulla is up in the area where it is affected by a contraction of what I am assuming is a fan-shaped muscle above the eyes, in what I’ve deemed the Orbital Lift. And the perineum is affected by a fan shaped muscle below the spine. (The spine actually ends at the sacrum. The fan shaped muscle that extends from it goes to the perineum and the sphincters.)
And we know that the kunda gland that resides there is a vast storehouse of kundalini energy. (Western medicine, having found no use for, now calls it the “coccygeal body”). Interestingly, there is a parallel in the medulla.
This great page on the web meanwhile, has this:
Yogis say that when we are born there is the nectar of life (amrta) contained in the “lake of the mind” located in the head.
It goes on to say that a puberty, a bunch of it moves down to the genitals. After that, the remainder slowly drips down the spine and that, when it’s gone, life ends.
Interestingly, there is a cavity right at the top the spine, in the center of the skull, where the pineal gland (aka spiritual eye) is located. It’s easy to imagine that cavity as a “lake”, filled with a “nectar” that drips down.
But of course, there is no physical fluid. What there is, is energy — the same kind of energy as kundalini! And we know that raising energy upward keeps us young, and the whole point of jalandhara bandha (chin lock) is to keep energy up there. (jala means throat, and dhara means an upward flow of energy! –Raja Yoga, p. 407)
So to my mind, amrta = kundalini. And that is another correspondence between the medulla and the perineum.
Seat of the Ego?
This part has me seriously confused. In the book and in the talks, the medulla is described as the “seat of the ego”. But:
- I had no greater spiritual awakening than when I learned the Ipsalu “inner smile”, which had the effect of opening that portal. (As Jan Robinson described it, “think of it as smile that wraps around to the back of your head.)
- The Orbital Lift I discovered in the Raja Yoga series further expanded that practice, opening the portal even further.
- Even the Raja Yoga book points to the medulla as the entry point for “healing energy” (which I perceive as a golden healing light, but which others may perceive differently.
- One of my gratitude meditations is to generate gratitude and project it upwards through that portal, to God/Universe/All-that-is. Because that flow is going in the opposite direction, it has the effect of “widening the straw”, opening me to a much greater flow of energy coming back!
- In Hinduism, the medulla is known as the “Mouth of God”, because that is where God literally “breathes life into the body”.
In short, the medulla is the location of all things good, in my universe! So how can it be the seat of the ego??
I asked that very question, in fact. Got an answer, too. It was something along the lines of “the ego is the thing that separates us from God”. So it seems it is both the focal point for individuation and the point where God-connection occurs.
Can’t say I fully understand that, as yet. But that last paragraph encapsulates what I have managed to discern thus far. (And frankly, after a week of intermittent rumination, it’s the closest I’ve come to actually understanding any of it!)
This was an interesting comment: When kundalini is moving up the spine, it tends to move you back and forth. Some additional notes on that subject:
- In Judaism, when folks seeing a master teacher doing that (not as a conscious activity, but as an internal reaction to the energy), they thought it was a good idea, so they invented the practice of davening, where you intentionally rock back and forth. (Good intent, although it misses the point. Still, it points out that there is something there.)
- In my martial arts practice, I often found myself rocking back and forth as I was meditating.
- In fact, one of the instructors once told me to stop doing that. Later on, I overhead Dr. Kim yelling at him not to do that. (They were behind closed doors at the time, and I was just passing by, so the timing and volume were just perfect for me to overhear. That happened a couple of times. I assume she was able to launch herself right out of her body, and could see where I was. Otherwise, I have no explanation for the perfection of the timing!)
However, even though I do that rocking back and forth when I’m in a relaxed state, I can’t say that it correlated to any kind of major energy flow — at least, not one I was capable of perceiving!
So either my perceptions needed to be improved, or the slight rocking back and forth is a requirement — or at least a helpful prelude.
Personally, I notice the rocking when my body is relaxed. To me it feels like beating of my heart induces that small motion. (But now that I’m more aware of energy flows in the spine, I also notice that a mild rocking action seems to assist the movement of that energy, in a small way.)
Anyway, I’m sharing it for what it’s worth.
In the practicum, we did uddiyana bandha (diaphragm lock). Felt a nice little energy surge up the spine, when we did that. :__)
Need for Organizational Flexibility!
I love the Ananda community. Really great people. Really great focus. Reminds me of the early days of Christianity. Ah…. The good old days.
It’s nice being around a non-religious, personal-transformation system and the people that engage it. At least, for a while, until rigor mortis starts to set in. (The process has started, alas. But it’s still a great place to be.)
You see, we know that physical flexibility is a good thing. And we know that mental flexibility is a good thing. We know, too, that a person needs to develop their own Yoga practice. It even says so, right there at the end of the Raja Yoga book! (p. 439)
But when it comes to how you teach, and what you teach — well, not so much.
You see, the Ananda center lost their main guru (Swami Kriyananda), and with the guru and guiding light goes the flexibility that keeps an organization young!
I’ve seen the same thing happen at Ipsalu where “policy is policy”, until it is questioned. At that point, Ipsalu’s guiding light and founder (Bodhi Avinasha) might well confirm that it needs to be that way. But she also might make allowances, or an exception, or a variation.
In my martial arts training, of course, the system was nothing if not flexible. It was so flexible it was hard to identify anything that was really fixed. But of course, their guiding light and founder (Dr. Tae Yun Kim) was involved in every step.
When she is gone, the outlook is the same. Policies will become instituted and, eventually, “organizational rigor mortis” will set in. It always seems to be that way, alas.
In this case, I was being recruited to become an Ananda Yoga teacher, which would have been grand. But I mentioned some things I’d like to change. Oops! Abrupt end of conversation. “Oh. You want to do your own thing. That’s cool.”
Extremely magnanimous, of course. Great spirit. But it rankled. It took me a while to figure out why:
I don’t want to do my own thing.
I want to do Babaji’s thing.
You see, Babaji is my guru. I connect with the spirit of Babaji, and as far as I can tell, that is the source of the inspirations that get downloaded into my brain.
I particularly recall the meditation session where I realized: I have something to teach! Several times, then and in subsequent meditations, I checked with my inner guide: “Are you sure I should teach these things”. “Yes. We’re sure”. “Really? Me?”. “Yes, absolutely.”
So it’s not like I’m just making this stuff up!
And as I reflect further on the matter, it occurs to me that the situation is not only endemic to all systems of transformation, it is also extremely regrettable!
- Babaji had many disciples. As did Lahiri Mahasaya. And Sri Yukteswar.
- The teaching is vast. The subject is no less than the infinity that is God.
- Every vessel (teacher) is limited. It can contain only so much.
- So a part of what was given is transmitted further.
- And that part is subject to minor modifications and “transmission errors”.
So if we assume that what was originally transmitted is everything there was to know (which I doubt), then it is still the case that one teacher can carry and transmit only part of it. If we assume, on the other hand, that the practice and knowledge it is based on can evolve, then each teacher will carry the work forward in their own way.
No matter how you slice it, there will be differences between the teachers. Some of those differences will be unimportant. Some will be quite good. (Hopefully, none of them will be bad!)
Now then, assume that one of Babaji’s other disciples had a student who progressed to the point that he became a teacher. Now imagine him walking into Ananda, or Ipsalu, or anywhere else, and trying to suggest modifications to the techniques that are taught there… Just imagine it, for a moment.
Ain’t gonna happen!
Know why? Organizational flexibility — or lack thereof. Even someone from a closely-aligned, parallel tradition will be unable to “cross-fertilize” the curriculum in any substantial way. Their only recourse, then, is to found their own school.
The problem, of course, is the inability of one limited vessel to evaluate the modifications presented by another. At Ipsalu, it is at least possible to contact Bodhi, present the variations, and get approval. But Ananda no longer has their guru, so that option no longer exists.
Solution: Federation of Teachers
The only real solution I see is to create a federation of teachers that works in the same way as the International Yoga Federation. In that system, every teacher is free to teach what they will. I’m sure there is some sort of certification process, to ensure a degree of safety in what is taught, but after that, teachers are free to evolve their own curricula. And there are conventions where cross-fertilization is abetted and encouraged.
Any organized system of personal growth and transformation also needs to the ability to grow and transform! The “federation” concept, governed by a loose collection of guiding principles, is an organizational model that could allow it to happen.
Of course, one thing Ananda provides that a collection of Yoga teachers doesn’t is a real sense of community — shared culture, shared values, and the opportunity to work together for a shared (and valuable) mission.
The ideal solution, will somehow manage to blend the best characteristics of a federation and a church.
Or College — Or Temple!
Hmmm. It occurs to me that college may be the right kind of model. In fact, that was Dr. Kim’s vision — a college of martial arts and inner development! And colleges are a very real kind of community, with a variety of teachers teaching different subjects!
Yeah! I want that! I loved being in college. May have been the happiest I had ever been, until I found out to tap into the inner source of joy and wisdom!
Then a couple of days later, I had the Temple Dream.
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