I wanted to discuss today the role of mudra in the act of concentrating the mind.
For many years I labored unsuccessfully at concentrating the mind other than just briefly. It was only when I started to get "underneath" the breath and discovering the power of mudra that mind started to fall into line.
The Bhagavad Gita says "The mind is restless and as difficult to control as the wind." As I've mentioned previously, this is a double edged statement. On one hand, its saying the mind is extremely difficult to control. On the other side of the blade, this statement is saying that the mind is as easy to control as the wind... The pranic wind.
The Hathapradipika quotes a great line from Yoga Vasistha "To control the mind, control the wind, to control the wind, control the mind."
We can access the point of control through either. But the most important point is to understand what is beneath each. In this place where the two are one, there is a singular substance. The basis of Consciousness itself. From this place arises what is called in yoga, Buddhi. Buddhi is alert choiceless awareness of "I", as well as the tipping point for its movement which is the Will.
The light or awareness aspect should be merged with its movement in our attention. This is accessed through mudra. Details on the mudra are found elsewhere in this blog.
Mudra is like a large moon which drives the tide of force, magnetic in nature, that moves the sea of prana. The driftwood of the body and gross mind are led by this sea.
Prana is felt. Why do we say this? Because the wind element is said in Samkhya theory to connect with what we call Sparsa. Sparsa is not easily definable in English. It is like "inner touch". Imagine for a moment the feeling you have on your skin. Imagine that everything within you 'touches' in the same way. You can call it the nerve endings through the body but this isn't enough as this is just a concept. It has to be an immediate direct felt experience of one's entirety, including mind, body, breath, feeling, and sensation.
Now, that sparsha or direct sensory feeling has to be moved. We move this through the tidal practice of the tantric breathing technique given a few writings ago in the pranayama posts. This tidal breathing practice should be one with the mudra work, engaging the mudra at each point of polarity shift. If one stays with this practice long enough, we encounter directly the phenomena called samadhi, where it appears as if there is only one thing, not two. In other words, we are one with the movement or sparshic field.
Pranayama like this can be done anywhere, not just in the seated position. At least the basic techniques of shifting and holding polarities. We can do it literally at almost any moment, explaining why in the texts like Hathapradipika they say to do so many rounds in one day. We can do far more than they suggest...
Working with the field this way regularly will lead to a oneness with it.
At this point, when we are one with the field, it can be directed. The will and the movement are not two. At this point we can construct any number of possible internal constructions which will have a direct, although perhaps grossly unobservable effect on reality. There is a lot to say at this point. At this point we are accessing what the Tibetans call Creation Stage. This is not mere imagination or visualization. This is felt imagination or what I like to call srsti or creation.
There is a very common misconception that meditation involves something solid or stable. But stability arises out of movement. This is discussed very clearly in the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali when he discusses the notion of parinama or transformation of state. Parinama involves movement. It is a gradient shift. For example, when you hold a cup in your hand and hold the cup still, is your hand moving or is it still?
Answer: it is not still. Examine this until you understand. Its directly relevant to the understanding of mudra and parinama. Even just catching wind of that movement and becoming one with it will guide you into the practice of mudra.
Back to creation. Many suggestions are given in the texts, from deity work, to points of light, to cakras and adhara meditations, the elements, to internal yantras, to kundali arousal. All of these are possible and these are only a small number of the possibilities. The more one works with these techniques, the more that open up. The doorways become infinite in number.
In the beginning, if the mudra is not strong, the forms will not hold. The important point to remember is to strengthen the mudra, have a union of clarity and feeling, and then to direct the movement from that union. The images or forms will sharpen in clarity as the magnetic force of mudra increases. They can become quite sharp in definition. It is like "inner focus" or "inner clarifying" at this stage, in the same way that we focused or clarified the eyes externally in shambhavi. The difference here with creation stage however is that, unlike the first stage of shambhavi, where we were letting go of form, here we are actually creating and sustaining form, but it is done with the union of clarity and feeling/sparsha. This is akin to unifying the subjective, instrumental and objective states that Patanjali discusses, in a singular act.
What is the result of this? Change. As Crowley defines magic, "magic is the act of causing change to occur in conformity with will". We may not be moving say, a physical object with our mind, but once you sit with what you are moving, you will realize that moving the sea is far more important than moving a single piece of driftwood. This is creating effects on the deep level of conditioning, of vasana. It takes a lot in a consensus reality as strong as the one we are living in to affect things directly. Most of our work will alter things here over time. This work will cause negatively conditioned processes to halt and turn around, shifting the driftwood over time. Of course, there are those times that we do experience direct, fast results. We notice the effects immediately in our bodies and minds. And we may be changing more than our limited minds can comprehend. I have been witness to some interesting things...
It is helpful to note that at the end of the practice, we can dissolve all forms into innate clarity. All forms arise from that fundamental clarity. We emphasize the clear light aspect of the mudra. This is Completion Stage. The dissolution of form and the resting in the basis.
From the perspective of what we call Sat, Cit, Ananda, or Reality/Being, Consciousness, and Bliss, the mudra can be emphasized from any of these perspectives, as they are all one. When we emphasize the Bliss and Consciousness aspects, in conjunction with Nama Rupa or name and form, we can access the creation stage. When we emphasize the Consciousness and Sat aspects we just rest in the basis.
To understand this, play with the two beginning aspects of Shambhavi mudra, the sight and then the feeling aspect. Learn to emphasize one or the other. Learn to unite the two. Learn to combine them with inner forms. Shape and move the forms. Dissolve the forms and rest in basis.
Create. Sustain. Dissolve.