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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Raja Yoga – Gaining Complete Control of Mind for Deep Meditation

By Sacha Tarkovsky

Raja Yoga involves exact meditation techniques which lead to experiences of the truth and finally achieve liberation.

The basic breathing techniques of Raja yoga to gain control over the mind and experience deep meditation are outlined below.

Karma, Bhakti, Jnana, and Raja Yoga are considered the four main yogas, but there are many other types. (The word "yoga" – from the Sanskrit root yuj ("to yoke") – is generally translated as "union of the individual atma (loosely translated to mean soul) with Paramatma, the universal soul." This may be understood as union with the Divine by integration of body, mind, and spirit.

Raja Yoga involves exact meditation techniques which lead to experiences of the truth and finally achieve liberation, described in Hindu thought as moksha. ( or liberation from the cycle of birth and death).

Raja Yoga is a very practical guide for gaining control over the mind.

Raja Yoga getting control of the mind

Without this control, meditation is not possible, and therefore the goal of any yoga, unattainable.

Moreover in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, "Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah," or, "The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga! Raja Yoga shows how to achieve this.

8 Principles of Raja Yoga

Raja Yoga is also known as Ashtanga (8 limbed) Yoga which refers to the eight principles which are:

Yama; or the Code of conduct – that is, self-restraint

Niyama; religious observances - commitments to practice, study and devotion

Asana: integration of mind and body through physical activity

Pranayama: regulation of breath leading to integration of mind and body

Pratyahara: abstraction of the senses, withdrawal of the senses of perception from their objects

Dharana; concentration, one-pointedness of mind

Dhyana: meditation (quiet and non-sensual activity that leads to samadhi)

Samadhi; the quiet state of blissful awareness, superconscious state

It must be remarked that although called eight-limbed, it is really a Royal Road to self-realization, with each limb leading into the next, ending with the goal, or Samadhi (and the union sought).

Raja Yoga taking control

More easily explained, first you must learn self-control.
Without it nothing that follows is possible. In conjunction with the self-control, you must practice religious observances, and seek to expand your quality of devotion. These two lead to Asana, or an integration of mind and body.

At this stage, you are ready to begin control over the breath, which is main life force that animates our existence.
As in each subsequent practice led the way to the next, so this stage prepares one for crucial stage of meditation.

Control of the breath is basic to this, and indeed, automatically assists in the next phase of Pratyahara, where you learn to turn off all the senses, and become internalized (not affected by sensatory stimulation).

This is the control you need to approach Dharana, or single-pointedness. From this point, meditation is said to begin. All the rest was preparatory for it and to it.

Raja Yoga getting to meditation

Finally one arrives at Dhyana, which is mediation. Your senses are internalized, your breath is controlled, your mind is thus free from the “stuff” that keeps it perpetually busy.

Once in true mediation, the road leads directly to Samadhi. In Samadhi you are in harmony with all creation, and non-creation, and are yourself the five principles or Yamas, which are:

Ahimsa - of the refraining from injury (non-life supporting action)

Satya – which is truthfulness

Asteya – of the freedom from stealing

Bramacharya – which is living within the Self (moderation; abstinence)

Aparigraha – or the freedom from attachment to possessions
Having attained this, you are considered in perfection and able to feel one with your creator. This is the goal of all yoga, but in Royal Yoga, the path is easily set out, and if followed without deviation, you may arrive just there.