Yoga in Each of the Four States ô õô ^ôõ S

ur true self is not merely the self of the waking 3

ô U3 õUK ' ô *ô 3

behind and beyond all the four states. Having deeply explored this mystery, Hinduism presents us a clear

system for understanding and transcending the three limited lev- els of awareness and a practical means for attaining the fourth state, which brings a direct perception of eternal reality. It is important to be aware of all aspects of our self and consciousness in the states of waking, dream, deep sleep and beyond. For this purpose, we have outlined the yogas of the four states below; but these overlap to a great extent.

The Power of Consciousness Behind the daily movement of consciousness is a great power, the shakti of consciousness, which sets this process in motion. No one can stop the daily process of waking, dream and deep sleep. We can stay up later but must eventually succumb to this inner force. This shakti has secret powers of transformation that we can cul-

tivate. It develops into the kundalini shakti, the inner power of con- sciousness that draws us to the highest awareness. The movement beyond deep sleep to pure consciousness rests upon the kundalini 3

õ 3 3 S ô 5L 5 3 U ô 3 ô ^-

cally said in all the teachings about the four states. Kundalini shakti is the power of cosmic sound and is made up of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. It is the power that arises from the primal sound, Aum, which sustains all the vibratory forces of the universe.

Yoga in the Waking State The yoga of wakefulness is striving to be conscious and attentive in all that we do. It is a cultivation of direct perception in which we distinguish our eternal essence of awareness from the outer forms limited in time and space. Most of us are half asleep during much of the day, falling into speculation, imagination, daydream, habit, enjoy- ment and loss of self-awareness, rarely connected and sustained by our inner consciousness. True wakefulness is being mindfully aware at every moment, observing the world with detachment, rather than running after it with desire. There is nothing the world can offer that can compare to the depth of awareness, perception and insight within us. We all have our moments of clarity and wakefulness in the waking

state, lucid moments that allow us to make wise decisions. But few people consciously cultivate this state. It may sound odd, but we need to cultivate staying awake while

awake, rather than drifting off into mechanical action or compulsive reaction, and getting lost in the dream of the material world. Our base emotions are largely subconscious reactions, rather than con- scious responses. Fear, anger or desire are little better than dreams, unintelligent ways to interact with the world. If we examine our so- ôõ S

5 3 ôL Sô S ^ õ ô ô 3 ô ô S ô ô33

within it, but predominantly distracted or dull states of mind. The yoga of the waking state is one of moment-by-moment

wakefulness. All its practices are merely supports for this. There are many ways to become more aware while awake. A yogic goal is to perfect these sadhanas and carry them on to the other states of consciousness. Chanting and meditating upon Aum is a helpful support practice

to all the yogas of the four states. Chant Aum as you fall into sleep; chant Aum as you awaken in the morning. This helps us hold wake- ful awareness throughout the day and carry it into dream and sleep as well.

44 hinduism today april/may/june, 2017

Remembering ourselves as the witness of the

waking state—with dream, deep sleep and cosmic consciousness as the deeper aspect of our nature— is a key practice, not losing ourselves to the external world, but remaining composed within. Cultivating memory overall is a strengthening aid. Holding to a mantra throughout the day, such as

Aum Namah Shivaya, helps remind us of our deep- er awareness. Yet, we must energize the mantra with attention. Mere mechanical repetition can re- sult in a loss of wakeful awareness. Most important 3

ô ô ô ô ô U 5 ô ^ 3

thing each morning, such as with Hinduism’s many morning remembrance chants, pratar smarami. Brahma Muhurta, the period of one to two hours

before sunrise, is the ideal time for meditation. It is the time of day when we can most easily connect with the forces of cosmic consciousness, drawing the awareness behind the deep sleep state into the waking state and experiencing how the entire uni- verse arises from Brahman as Aum. Pranayama brings us back when our mind drifts

into a lack of awareness, breathing in the deeper energy of consciousness that persists in deep sleep. + ô

ô Sô Rô 3 ^ôõ õ 3 ôõ

prana, the more we can hold our awareness cen- tered within throughout the day. By using the senses for contemplative awareness,

rather than entertainment or enjoyment, we learn to be aware of the presence of Being and the light of consciousness behind the forms of nature. This sadhana can be developed further into pratyahara, or sense withdrawal. Cultivating a sense of the impermanence of all

waking experiences, including dramatic events in our own life, helps us identify with our true Self. # U 5 L 3ô _ô33 3ô R ôL

S3 3 ôõ ô3 õ ^ K + 3ô S ô

our actions with awareness and let go of mechani- cal reactions. This is particularly important if we ^ õ


main perpetually awake never die, for their wake- fulness is not rooted in the physical body but in recognition of the divine presence. To achieve this requires being undistracted and concentrated in all that we do. This cannot be achieved immediately, but we can make progress every day.

Yoga in the Dream State At the moment we fall asleep we encounter a doorway in conscious- ness through which we can enter into the ever-wakeful state. This we should learn to recognize. We should prepare for the moment of sleep as an opportunity to transcend our waking self and its outer re- ality. Then, instead of simply falling asleep, we can move into a medi- tative state. To be able to move into this state of conscious sleep, it is helpful 3 õ S

ôõ ô U ô õ UK . ô U õ ô ô ô ^ô õ _ ô ô õ S 3 ôô L ^ 3 R ô3 ô 5 ô 3 S 3

before sleep. Go out into nature for a few minutes, chant or silently meditate, perform some rituals using ghee lamps or incense. Such ô3 S

ôõ U ô 5 ô 3 ô

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