A WAY OF LIFE
Yoga does not require turning away from life. It demands transformation and spiritualisation of life. Yoga is primarily a way of life, not something which is divorced from life. Yoga is not forsaking an action, but is effecient performance in the right spirit. Yoga is not running away from home and human habitation, but a process of moulding one’s attitude to home and society with a new understanding.
Yoga is for all and is universal. It is not a sectarian affair, but a way to God and not a creed. The practice of Yoga is not opposed to any religion or any sacred church. It is purely spiritual and universal and does not contradict any one’s sincere faith.
The idea of the novice that Yoga constitutes physical exercises ormere postures and Pranayama, etc., is an error. These have nothing to do with real Yoga. There are considered to be aids in Yoga practice. Most people do not have access to Yoga beyond its
physical level, because the true Yoga demands intense personal discipline, coupled with intense thinking under the guidance of an able teacher. Yoga promises superphysical and spiritual blessing. It becomes unattractive to a common man who clamours for Immediate fruits and worldly prosperity.
Moral purity and spiritual aspiration are the first steps in the path of Yoga. One who has a calm mind, faith in the words of his preceptor and the scriptures, who is moderate in eating and sleeping, and who has intense longing for deliverance from the wheel of births and deaths is a qualified person for the practice of Yoga.
An austere and simple life is indispensable for Yoga. The foundation of Yoga is self-control. Discipline is the essence of Yoga, discipline of body as well as discipline of the mind. In the practice of Yoga, there is a reversal of the normal outgoing activity of the mind. Steadiness of mind is essential for a reversal of the normal outgoing activity of the mind.
Yoga is union with the Lord or the Supreme Soul. Raja Yoga is restraint of the waves or thoughts or modifications of the mind. ‘Raja Yoga’ means ‘King of Yogas’, because it directly concerns with the mind.
The mind is made up of three qualities, viz., Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Sattva is purity, goodness, harmony, light and wisdom. Rajas is passion, action and motion. Tamas is inertia, darkness and ignorance. Internal fight is going on between Sattva and
Rajas-Tamas. Convert Tamas into Rajas through work and Rajas into Sattva through meditation.
Sadhana or Abhyasa is any spiritual practice that helps the aspirant to concentrate his mind and realise God.
Faith, aspiration and dispassion are the three important qualities of a Yogic student.
Non-violence, truthfulness and celibacy are the three fundamental virtues.
Diet has intimate connection with the mind. Mind is formed from the subtlestportion or essence of food.
The food should be light, nutritious and Sattvic, for the purpose of meditation. Diet is of three kinds, viz., Sattvic diet, Rajasic diet and Tamasic diet.
Foods which increase vitality, energy, vigour, health and joy, which are delicious, bland, wholesome, substantial and agreeable, are Sattvic.
Foods which are bitter, sour, saline, excessively hot, pungent, dry and buming, which produce pain, grief and disease, are Rajasic.
Foods which are stale, tasteless, putrid, rotten and impure, are Tamasic.
All articles that are putrid, stale, decomposed, unclean, twice cooked, kept overnight, as well as overripe and unripe fruits should be abandoned.
Instinct or voice within will guide you in the selection of articles of diet. You are yourself the best judge to form a Sattvic Yogic menu to suit your temperament and constitution.
Do not make sudden changes in your diet. Let the change be slow and gradual. Take food half-stomachful, fill a quarter of stomach with water and allow the remaining part for expansion of gas. It is moderate diet.
Do not practise Yoga immediately after a meal, nor when you are hungry.
Take light meals at night. A cup of milk and some fruits will suffice. Then alone you.will be able to get up in the early morning for meditation. Do not take rice at night.
Control of mind is very difficult for those who take meat, etc.
Take your food when the Pingala or Surya Nadi flows in right nostril. Surya Nadi is heating. It digests the food well. Sleep on your left side at night. The food will be digested well. Sit on Vajra Asana for ten minutes after taking food. This will digest your food well.
Give up tea and coffee. Eat and drink as a master. Have no craving for any particular diet.
MIND AND ITS CONTROL
Mind is Atma Sakti. It is through mind that God manifests as the universe. The seed of mind is egoism.
The mind is purifred by the practice of selfless service, Japa, Tapas, right conduct or practice of Yama (self-restraint) and meditation. The mind filled with Sattva is Suddha Manas or pure mind. The mind filled with Rajas and Tamas is Asuddha Manas or impure mind.
The mind assumes the form of any object it intensely thinks of. As you think, so you become. This is an immutable psychological law.
In waking state mind has its abode in the brain. In dream state it has its abode in the throat. In deep sleep it rests in the heart.
‘Prara’ is the connecting link between body and mind. lf you control Prana and sex-energy, you can control the mind. Through control of breath you can control the
Cosmic mind is the universal mind of the Lord. It is superconscious mind. Conscious mind operates through the brain in the waking state. Subconscious mind is Chitta. All impressions are imbedded in the subconscious mind.
Mind can attend only to one thing at a time. Steadying or fixing the mind on one point is
Mind is the dividing wall between soul and body.
You can be established in Samadhi or superconscious state only by long practice, with zeal and faith. Without dispassion or non-attachment or indifference to sensual enjoyments no spiritual progress is possible.
Annihilate the impure mind with the help of the pure or higher mind and transcend the mind also.
Do not try to drive away impure thoughts. The more you try the more they will return. Fill the mind with divine thoughts. The impure thoughts will gradually vanish by themselves. Do not try to control the mind through violent methods. You will miserably and hopelessly fail.
The mind is at the root of Samsara or process. Desire is the fuel. Thought is the fire. Withdraw the fuel of desire; the fire of thought will be extinguished.
Mind thinks, intellect determines, egoism self-arrogates, subconscious mind memorises.
When the mind is Sattvic, calm and pure, you will get glimpses or flashes of intuition.
Mental actions are the real actions. Thought is the real action. A Rajasic mind wants variety and new sensations. It gets disgusted with monotony. Change of work is change for the mind.
Excerpts from “FOURTEEN LESSONS ON RAJA YOGA” by Sri Swami Sivananda