I wanted to write a little bit more about some important things to consider as one works with the practices of pranayama described in my previous blogs.
When one is working with the magnetic forces that we call prana and apana, it will be important to learn to discern, to inquire as to the driving impetus behind these forces.
The buddhi is the term given by classical Samkhya philosophy to describe the deepest level of our mind. For many years I labored under the assumption that this buddhi was the deep level "I", which of course it is. But it is also more than this. The Samkhya Karika and other texts tell us that the buddhi is not only "I" but it is also will.
In some ways its like the quantum mechanics experiments from the early 1900s. At the deep level of things, we can approach ourselves like a "particle" or a "wave". I personally have preferred to approach my deep self through movement over the past few years. With this practice, it becomes more important to inquire into will than it does to inquire into the "I", which is common through the classical and modern Vedanta based practices.
Movement is felt. It is inseparable from attention itself. It can be traced. Like finding your way through a maze. It can be followed back and found. This is what is called in yogic terminology laya or absorption. Because it is inseparable from attention itself, movement, which gives rise to form, can be changed, and altered.
In our ordinary state of objective consciousness, the movements and rhythms are mostly unconscious and are felt and experienced through all layers of our being without any real understanding. The more that we make these movements conscious, the more that we start to peel back the layers towards the more base levels of our consciousness. We move from the objective, through the instrumental and finally to what I prefer to call the causal rather than the subjective state. This causal state of consciousness is what some refer to as the subject. But that is only if we approach it as a noun. It is also a verb.
Approaching the subject as though it were a verb is an interesting process. It aligns with all of the teachings of the tantra, in that it doesn't act to set one thing against another, allowing for a more deeply felt integration and union to occur.
Imagine treating a river as an object. Is a river an object?
The word nadi itself means river. There are many rivers that encompass the human being. The goal of yoga is the union of the rivers into the central river, which we call Susumna. A wonderful thing happens when this union occurs. From here, many new directions of movement open up, many of which we were not aware of before.
Unifying ourselves is a vast topic beyond the scope of this post. But this is what is required if we are to truly come to the deep level understanding of our own will. Otherwise, will is divided. Flows are divided. Our energy is split into many.
What is it that controls our will? What is it that confines our will? Ultimately we alone are responsible for the containment and control of our will. We can be our greatest friend or our own greatest enemy. Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras tells us that the five main directions that the mind flows can take can be either liberating or binding. Are the flows of our mind binding us? Why? How do we become our own enemy? Likewise, how can we alter the flows to produce something wonderful? These can be important questions to look at.
Yoga helps us to address these questions. The process of yoga can help us to understand that which limits us, to help us transform that very movement in a more positive direction, one that will create more space. If we energetically align with the practices of yama and niyama, it will help to set the foundation in order, to make these powerful practices of pranayama far more effective. I have written about the energetic understanding of the yama and niyama in several posts from 2012. These are just suggestions.
Otherwise, if we do not have yama and niyama, we may find that we are manifesting a strange world of contraction and division around us. Pranayama and therefore containment or channeling of the mind/energy will be very difficult.
This is why foundation work is important. Examining our intentions is important. Examining our movements. What direction are we going and why?
Learning to trace movement is the very thing that will cause us to meet this powerful process known as mudra. We follow the driftwood in its motions to trace the sea. We trace the sea as it is pulled by the tide. We look up to the moon and recognize its role in directing the tide. We find in this process that the very thing that is directing is inseparable from that which is directed.
The difference however between this process of inquiry and just working with the driftwood is that the driftwood itself doesn't lead us to the tidal forces. It is the following of the movement of the driftwood that is important if we are to learn to trace back to source. Once we contact this source of movement, the tracing work is not as necessary anymore and we engage the work from this deeper level.
Forms can be deceiving. They are reflective of something deeper but this only becomes apparent when we know how to see them. Learn how to trace their phenomenal display back to their source by practicing this work constantly.
All success to you in your practice.