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meditative deep relaxation
Tantra - Nyasa - Chakra - resolution consciousness - research
Course program 1997-98 for Håå Course Center
Unique pictures of the brain‘s activity during Yoga Nidra
Attitude or Insight
“Can you still feel frustrated and inadequate even though you may have meditated for many years?” a journalist asked me recently, “or do you go around with a permanent smile on your face?”
That made me think of a woman on one of our meditation courses. When she came home after the meditation, her children rushed boisterously up to her and hugged her. She wanted to remain in the tranquil state she had reached during the meditation. She therefore tried to keep them at a distance imagining that the children would disturb her. I advised her to accept the children entirely and not try to cling to any state. The effect of the meditation is there anyway, as we go about life and allow our various traits to find expression - and it’s okay to react normally.
Triquetra - Linda Gustavson Nameth. See also page 34.
editorial by Mira
of Energy, which is, amongst other things, based on a special breathing technique, her blood pressure became almost normal. Another woman on the course proved to have low blood pressure and when we measured her, we saw to our great surprise that it had actually risen following the same exercises! An explanation for this could be that these techniques make us relax and help us let go of the thoughts, impressions and states which are otherwise seated in our muscles and organs and which influence the nervous system - this process normalises the blood pressure. When something is worrying us, we may feel as if we are enclosed in a bubble. When the problem has been resolved, or the cause of the anxiety has been removed, then everything feels different. Suddenly we can make contact with the people around us again and appreciate the small daily events. Yoga and meditation can remove these bubbles - regardless of whether they arise from anxiety, ideals or self-indulgence and prevent new ones forming. If you happen to adopt another “meditative pose”, then you end up in a new bubble that can inhibit your awareness and meditation and become a burden. The realisation that you don’t need to live by ideals and poses, that you can depend on yourself, along with the
I am sure everyone experiences yoga and meditation in their own individual way. It is exciting to discover and explore the potential of the exercises. The fundamental effects, however, are pretty much the same for all - body and mind find their own natural balance. When I have been very busy going full speed ahead all day and then find it difficult to unwind in the evening, meditation
calms me. But if I am tired and uninspired and cannot get started on anything, then meditation gives me renewed energy. A woman with very high blood pressure participated on a yoga and meditation course we held in Germany a few years ago. She had tried all kinds of therapies, but nothing helped. So she turned to yoga. She had a blood pressure device with her and we took her blood pressure on various occasions during the course. After the deep-relaxation Yoga Nidra, followed by the meditation The Source
Meditative Deep Relaxation
understanding that meditation does not need props - is fundamental to our teaching, which is inspired by the Tantric tradition. When I went on my first yoga course at this school, I found I could be myself. There was nothing to live up to and no-one tried to convince me of anything. The result was that I was able to relax and experience the effects of yoga. One day two young men came to the school. They wanted to know what yoga was. “Do you have to believe in anything?” they asked. “No,” I replied, “yoga is like football. It is something you do. It isn’t something you believe in.” Maybe you get a broader perspective on a variety of things or maybe new values, but yoga is not something to ascribe to; insight grows by itself. !
Yoga Nidra and consciousness...
Yoga is probably best known as a comfortable form of relaxation, both on a physical and mental level, but it involves a lot more than that. Relaxation is only the first step. It is easy to practice Yoga Nidra. You lie completely motionless on your back, and listen to the instructions given. The technique is used by people who need an effective relaxation. Many use the Yoga Nidra tape or CD without having any other knowledge of yoga or meditation. Sometimes a person will come to me and say: “I have tried relaxation and it does not work for me. I just cannot relax.” It always turns out that the person has used a form of relaxation, where you have to
try to imagine that you relax. So instead of deriving benefit from the relaxation, the person concerned gets irritated and worried from making so much effort. In Yoga Nidra you are never asked to relax - and my experience is that even those people who have previously experienced problems relaxing, find benefit from Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra is equally popular with school kids and senior citizens, and is highly valued in many work places. For beginners, it is an easy way to experience a state of meditation. Some years ago I taught at a school for young people. The teachers were very surprised when they saw the boys lying
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Meditative deep relaxation
A short introduction to Yoga Nidra.
one of modern medicine’s most advanced instruments - the PET scanner at The State University Hospital in Copenhagen.
Swami Janakananda abroad Spring / Summer 1998
Tantra and Yoga Nidra
The relaxed state and science
In the course of the last 30 years, research has shown that the relaxed state is highly beneficial for your health. We explain a little of what this state entails, how you achieve it and how you ensure it becomes deep and lasting.
Swami Janakananda writes for the first time about the knowledge and methods in Tantra which lie behind Tantric rituals and which make Yoga Nidra so uniquely effective and deep - about Nyasa, Chakras, consciousness and the resolution in Yoga Nidra.
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People’s very different experiences with Yoga Nidra ... A place with ideal conditions for getting to know yourself and exploring your potential through the unique methods taught there.
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Pictures of the brains’s activity during Yoga Nidra
Yoga at Home
A new chapter in research on meditation, it was called, when the scientists published pictures of yoga teachers doing Yoga Nidra. The research was done with
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completely still on their backs with their eyes closed for twenty minutes. You can practise Yoga Nidra anytime you want, to improve your concentration, get better rest and renewed energy - and if you sleep poorly at night, to improve your sleep. Listen to the instructions without making effort or using your willpower. Just follow the instructions with interest and awareness, and let the rest happen by itself. In the beginning when you practise Yoga Nidra, you may fall asleep - and that is okay - even though the purpose is to stay awake and aware. If for a moment you don’t hear the instructions, you may have an experience like you are deeply asleep - but at the same time you know that you are conscious. Generally falling asleep completely is a transitory stage. Gradually you become increasingly present in the deep state. When you practise Yoga Nidra, it is best to lie with your head towards the north. Your clothes should not be tight. Do not lie on anything too soft, but preferably on an even floor, maybe on a rug, with a light cover over you. If you are prone to falling asleep, keep your hands and feet uncovered or lie without a cover altogether. If you still fall asleep, then let
your elbows rest on the floor with your forearms pointing upwards. Each time you are about to fall asleep, your arms will drop down, and you will wake up. The essence of Yoga Nidra, as with all kinds of real meditation, is awareness consciousness resting in itself. During Yoga Nidra thoughts, states and dreams may surface. You may have impressions of experiences and emotions from that day or from earlier times in your life. All this you experience, but you don’t cling to any of it - and you don’t judge it (after all, you also experience when you judge). You let the impressions and thoughts come and go without trying to control them, and you reach not only a relaxed state, but a state where the mind empties and frees itself of all that it does not need. You let the thoughts flow by and disappear like clouds in the sky, making room for inspiration again. If for a moment you forget to follow the instructions, then do not try to remember what happened at that particular place in Yoga Nidra; just follow the now. When you get carried away by a thought it may easily turn into a dream that carries you into sleep. Because you are in a deep state, it is quite normal for this to happen. As soon as you discover it, then return to the instructions. In this way you get used to
staying aware in a deep state. Yoga Nidra teaches you to consciously experience the different states that you are guided through, eg. heaviness and lightness. You learn to give in to the different emotions and states. Your mind is being trained in this way and becomes more flexible - and you reach a state of deep rest. It is important to have guidance from an experienced teacher in a class or on a tape/CD, especially with the long Yoga Nidra, as the relaxation should preferably be the same each time. In this way the subconscious feels secure and relaxes more easily. When you have gotten used to the short Yoga Nidra, you can then take yourself through the instructions mentally, before you turn to the long and deep Yoga Nidra. The name Yoga Nidra actually represents a state of consciousness, and the technique leads you there. Both mind and body reach the meditative state. You gain an experience that you can use in other contexts; among other things, it can improve your meditation. What is most important for all kinds of meditation, is regularity, preferably a daily practice. Each time you do it, it will be easier to reach the clarity and peace, which support physical health and your presence in everything you do. !
The relaxed state and science
Queues and bottlenecks occur during rush hour in our cities. At other times of the day, the traffic is less active and therefore flows better. It is the same with the body and mind; when activity is reduced, we experience a less stressed and less blocked state than that which we normally find ourselves in with our daily chores. The states of consciousness were previously divided up into three main categories: waking state, dream and sleep. But over the last thirty years, science has acquired a broader view of our states. In the late sixties an American doctor, Dr. Keith Wallace, had his doctoral thesis accepted under the title Meditation as a Fourth Major State of Consciousness. Since then there have been a lot of different publications and research on altered states. One of the major works from 1969 is still worth reading: Altered States of Consciousness edited by Professor Charles T. Tart, is a collection of articles from researchers all over the whole world. paper that was running through the machine underneath. Every time an impulse came from the electrode, the pen moved so that the line on the paper became a wavy line, hence the expression brain waves. Today everything is recorded on computer, so that the waves can be analysed and displayed on a screen. The activity of the brain is divided into four states. See the chart below. Besides the EEG, there are other means of measuring the relaxed and somewhat deeper meditative state. Skin resistance, for example, is measured on the palm between two electrodes. If you have a high skin resistance, then your palm is dry and you are relaxed. However if you become provoked a little, within a few seconds the skin resistance will fall due to an imperceptible perspiration on the palm. Skin resistance is used to measure the reactions in the autonomous nervous system, and can reveal when the level of stress or anxiety increases or diminishes. A similar method is used in lie-detectors. Beta, 13-40 waves/sec., normal, active Alpha, 8-13 waves /sec., relaxed
by Robert Nilsson
Muscular tension decreases when you relax, just as a tension decreases when you keep a muscle stretched for a while in a yoga pose. The muscular tension is also measured by placing two electrodes on the muscle in question. The pulse drops during relaxation or meditation. As does the breath rate and frequency.
What does it mean to be relaxed
“Not everyone believes they can concentrate, not to mention relax. Maybe it is true that they cannot do it just like that, by using willpower. Some people claim that all they need is to sit in a chair, put their feet up and close their eyes. However, they do not always show an improvement if, for instance, their blood pressure is measured. Still, I maintain that everyone can achieve deep relaxation through correct and systematic guidance. And once you can relax, you can also improve your concentration.” (From the booklet accompanying the CD Yoga Nidra)
The relaxed brain
The relaxed state soon received a scientific classification, which is practical, but also limiting. It was called the Alpha state. By pasting small round silver discs called electrodes on various places on the scalp, the brain’s activity could be measured. The electrodes were connected to a machine, an Electroencephalograph (EEG). There was a row of pens on the EEG and each one was connected to an electrode on the head. The pens were attached in such a way that each drew a line on a piece of
Activity of the brain
The more active the brain is, the more impulses the nerve cells fire. A description of the four states shown on the left, their frequency (oscillations or waves per second) and their scientific names are also shown there. The EEG sinks from Beta to Alpha when one relaxes, but it is rarely pure; this means that there is both Alpha and Beta concurrently.
Theta, 4-8 waves /sec., dream, sleep
Delta, 1-4 waves /sec., deep sleep
It is possible to have experiences with yoga, relaxation and the like and still fool oneself into believing that one is relaxed, even though one is not. I have had days where I thought it was okay to skip my yoga practise. When I nevertheless took the time to do yoga, I could feel a distinct difference in my state afterwards. It is important not to be blinded by your ideas of how you feel. You should also not try to achieve a certain experience - you just follow the technique
The relaxation response
It is easy enough to become excited or stressed. The way the body reacts during such a state is called the fight or flight response; in a perilous situation the body prepares itself for fight or flight. The blood pressure rises and the blood flow to the brain and muscles increases at the expense of the internal organs. Often this automatic reaction is completely out of proportion compared to what has triggered it. Even just a minor daily problem can be enough to create a stressed state. Dr. Herbert Benson from Beth Israel Hospital School in Boston has realised, through his research into high blood pressure, the significance of proper relaxation. With his first book The Relaxation Response he introduced this term in relation to methods for relaxing and lowering the blood pressure. In contrast to the fight or flight response, the relaxation response does not always come by itself when it is needed. “Just sitting quietly or, say, watching television, is not enough to produce the physiological changes. You need to use a relaxation technique that will break the train of everyday thought, and decrease the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.” (Dr. H. Benson)
By relaxation technique, we mean something that can provide a more effective form of relaxation than that which can be achieved by taking a stroll or sleeping. Through the use of a relaxation technique, you learn to achieve a state of rest that is deeper than that of sleep, while you remain conscious and experience what is happening. You become familiar with the relaxed state. “The advantage seems to come from the physiology of relaxation rather than by mere suggestion.” (Dr. P. M. Lehrer) The relaxation technique works by itself; you need only lie still and follow the instructions. Through meditation and awareness training you will also be able to see when the fight or flight response is about to be triggered, and thereby become better at choosing how to react.
more present in your senses. There are meditations where you learn to make your mind one-pointed, and meditations without a focal point, which are based on the ability to experience the totality in and around oneself. It should also be added that some methods give only a light relaxed state, while others produce very clear changes in your general state. Certain Tantric meditations, for example Inner Silence, are constructed as a developing sequence containing a whole array of the mentioned methods - it spans the spectrum from outer awareness to deep inner rest in oneself. Some researchers have documented that relaxation techniques, sometimes supplemented with other yoga techniques and meditation, can be used as an alternative or a supplement to traditional treatment for people who suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, stress, sleep disorders, chronic pain, rheumatism, anxiety, cancer, psoriasis, alcoholism, epilepsy, to name but a few.
What do you get from relaxing?
“Well-being, of course,” is the answer if you ask those who know how to use a good relaxation, “and creativity.” Current research is interested in more than that though. They want to see if there are permanent and deep physiological effects. Recently I looked into a database (Medline) containing reports that have been published in recognised research magazines. It contained more than 27,000 reports on relaxation, yoga and meditation published over the last twenty years. I realised, as I went through the reports, that some of the researchers regard meditation as an unalterable quantity. Therefore they cannot understand why there is a discrepancy in their research. The fact is that the results largely depend on which meditation technique is used. In some meditations you learn to withdraw the senses; in others you are
The immune defence system is strengthened by relaxation
Perhaps the most interesting thing for most of us is the fact that relaxation strengthens the immune defence system. Therefore it can help in keeping sickness at bay by making people more resistent to viruses. The degree of effectiveness naturally depends on whether or not one uses relaxation regularly.
Examples from research:
- At the Marylebone Health Centre in London, they have been able to cut their prescribing costs by 40% by using methods including yoga, meditation and relaxation.1)
- An American fighter pilot, with a six year history of high blood pressure, underwent various treatments (medicine, diet, physical exercise) without results. Following a six weeks program of yoga and relaxation, his blood pressure was normalised, and he regained full flight status. And as the researchers pointed out, relaxation also has an advantage over medicine in that it has no side effects, something which can be hazardous for a fighter pilot.2) There are numerous reports on the effect of relaxation on high blood pressure yoga also works well for low blood pressure, because the exercises normalise the blood pressure. - “After about ten lessons, the patient will be able to control his own stress and high blood pressure.”3) - From research into HIV positive: “These results suggest that stress management [through relaxation and meditation] to reduce arousal of the nervous system and anxiety would be an appropriate component of a treatment regimen for HIV infection.”4) - Of 149 diabetics, 104 were able to reduce their intake of medication after 40 days treatment with yoga and relaxation.5) - 11 epileptics who were resistant to epileptic medicine meditated 20 minutes a day. After a year, a significant reduction in seizure frequency and duration was measured.6) - Of 73 patients with advanced cancer, who had attended at least 20 sessions of intensive meditation, 10% showed a remarkable slowing in the growth of the tumour and a further 10% had a less marked reduction. 50% experienced a greatly improved quality of life.7) - 51 chronic pain patients whose condition had not improved with traditional medical
care, took part in a 10 weeks meditation and relaxation program. 50% of the patients showed a 50% or more reduction in pain, while a further 15% of the patients had a reduction of 33% or more.8) - 9 patients with asthma took part in a residential course in yoga and relaxation. After a week they were generally more relaxed, and were able to breath more easily, as the inspiratory and expiratory muscles were more relaxed.9) Our experience on some of our longer courses, the 3 months course for example, is that some students have achieved what you might call a cure or a complete control of asthma. Quite a few have gone home from the course without any symptoms.
your breath, various states such as heaviness and lightness, warmth and cold... and various mental pictures and symbols. And it is this very systematic and fixed procedure that triggers the relaxation. The researchers in Cologne found that Yoga Nidra had a more thorough effect than the relaxations based on suggestions or hypnosis. During Yoga Nidra the Alpha waves covered the whole brain, whereas they occurred only here and there during the other relaxations. Furthermore the level of Alpha waves was constant throughout the entire Yoga Nidra, while they came and went during the other relaxations. The balance between the EEG in the two brain halves was better in Yoga Nidra, which means that the two brain halves communicated better. These results were again confirmed in 1997 in the research you can read about in the following article. !
1) Holistic GPs cut prescribing costs to 40% of average. Pulse 1989 Nov 25. 2) Treatment of essential hypertension with yoga relaxation therapy in a USAF aviator: a case. Brownstein AH. Dembert ML. 3) In training for relaxation. Hodgkinson L. 4) Effects of a behavioral stress-management program on anxiety, mood, self-esteem, and T-cell count in HIV positive men. Taylor DN. 5) A study of response pattern of non-insulin dependent diabetics to yoga therapy. Jain SC. Uppal A. Bhatnagar SO. Talukdar B. 6) Meditation improves clinicoelectroencephalographic measures in drug-resistant epileptics. Deepak KK. Manchanda SK. Maheshwari MC. 7) What can cancer patients expect from intensive meditation? Meares A. 8) An outpatient program in behavioral medicine for chronic pain patients. Kabat-Zinn J. 9) Study of pulmonary and autonomic functions of asthma patients after yoga training. Khanam AA. Sachdeva U. Guleria R. Deepak KK.
Yoga Nidra in relation to relaxation based on suggestion
In connection with an extensive research project at the university clinic in Cologne, Germany, in the beginning of the eighties, the brain waves of a group of teachers from the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School were measured during Yoga Nidra. A researcher who was more familiar with other and more suggestive forms of relaxation, where one imagines that one is relaxed, took part in this research. During Yoga Nidra one is not even asked to relax. The word relaxation does not appear in the instructions at all. You experience your body, its various parts,
Pictures of the brain’s activity during Yoga Nidra
“We had not expected the meditators to be able to control their consciousness to such an extent.” (Brain researcher Troels Kjær, The Kennedy Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Researchers have for the first time succeeded in taking pictures of the brain during a meditative deep-relaxation, with as short an exposure time as one minute per photograph. The pictures were taken by one of the most advanced medical research instruments, the PET scanner at The State University Hospital in Copenhagen. The initiators were researchers, Dr. Hans Lou and Dr. Troels Kjær from the Kennedy Institute in Copenhagen. When they contacted us, they said they wanted to measure awareness! But how do you do that? At the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School we have previously collaborated with a number of researchers who was examining the effect of yoga’s breathing exercises on blood pressure, among other things. We have also measured participants for six consequtive years, at Håå Course Center to determine the effect the three months course has on the reduction of the content of harmful fat in the blood (cholesterol); on the body’s hormone balance; on the balance between the two brain halves and on the result of awareness training, for instance on the reduction of fear in a normal person. To actually measure consciousness and how the brain functions by conscious control of awareness, was, however, quite new for us. At first we proposed that people doing Kriya Yoga could be measured. This is a meditation which has given very distinct results in other measurements (one of which we will present in the next issue of Bindu). As, at present, it is only possible to lie down in a PET scanner; a person sitting in a meditation pose cannot be measured. We therefore agreed with the researchers to measure people practising Yoga Nidra from a tape or CD guided by Swami Janakananda. This ensured that all those who were measured did exactly the same thing. We also wanted to limit it to those who practised Kriya Yoga regularly - they were to do Kriya Yoga in the morning, before going to the hospital to have brain scans.
by Robert Nilsson
important that the different areas of the brain were precisely the same size and in the same location (Talairach space). The data from the pictures were compared and the mean values calculated. Pictures were taken of a normal waking state with closed eyes, as well as pictures of four different practices in Yoga Nidra. By comparing this data and eliminating the normal activity from the activity during Yoga Nidra, it is possible to see in which areas of the brain the activity had increased during Yoga Nidra. And in order to discover what was characteristic of the normal state, in comparison to the state during Yoga Nidra, the values of the pictures taken before and after Yoga Nidra were combined, and then the values of the four pictures taken during Yoga Nidra were subtracted. Now the researchers wanted to see the difference between the various sections of Yoga Nidra. While the first picture was being taken, the subject was experiencing his/her body, in particular the various parts of the face. The next photograph was taken during the experience of happiness and contentment, the third during the experience of a summer day in the countryside and the fourth at the end of Yoga Nidra, during the experience of “who am I”. After preparing the sampled data, two different pictures emerged: They showed that the more “concrete” tasks, such as the experience of the body and the landscape, activated more or less the
The subjects lay one at a time in the PET scanner. It takes just one minute to gather the data of the brain scan, but there must also be an interval of ten minutes before the next picture can be taken. Eight pictures were produced from the scanned material. The pictures show which areas were active before (one picture), during (four pictures) and after Yoga Nidra (three pictures). The person lying in the PET scanner is not disturbed by the photography, but practises the deep Yoga Nidra without a pause from start to finish. At the same time the brain’s activity was measured by an electroencephalograph (EEG, see also page 5) during the entire procedure. The EEG curve showed, as expected, that the subjects were in a meditative state during the entire Yoga Nidra. Afterwards, their brain pictures were made to the same size, as it was
Preparation for the scanning at The State University Hospital in Copenhagen. The 21 electrodes connected to the EEG are in place on the head. Now all that are needed are headphones for Yoga Nidra. Only the person being measured is in the room when the measurements begin.
same regions in the brain (fig. 4); while the more “abstract” tasks, such as happiness and who am I, activated other regions (fig. 3).
The measurements of the brain’s activity (EEG) during Yoga Nidra indicated that the subjects were in a deeply relaxed state the whole time, similar to that of sleep. The theta activity rose significantly on all the twenty one
electrodes (11%p). The reduction of the alpha activity (2% NS) was insignificant; this shows that this meditative state is altogether different from that of the sleeping state and comprises conscious awareness. Furthermore, the state was constant and evenly distributed over the entire brain for the forty five minutes the relaxation lasted. The research took one and a half hours per participant. During that period, the person lay completely still in the same position. When the state prior to and
following Yoga Nidra - where one just lies and rests - was compared with the state during Yoga Nidra, the measurements showed a significant difference between the two states. This confirms the importance of using a technique if one wants to achieve results, such as those described in this and other articles in this periodical. The PET scanner’s pictures show that the subjects were not in a drowsy or unconscious state during the relaxation, which is something one would expect of
The pictures of the brain were taken in a PET scanner (Positron Emission Tomography), which measures the flow of blood through different parts of the brain. This is done by injecting water with a weak radioactive trace into the blood stream. Tomography is derived from the Greek word tomos, meaning section. In the PET scanner, numerous 4.25 mm thick sections of the brain are registered, giving a three dimensional picture of the brain’s activity. When one part of the brain is particularly active, the flow of blood increases, and by comparing several pictures it is possible to see where the brain’s activity rises under certain conditions. a person in such a deep state. The subjects remained in considerable control of what was happening. It is clearly visible how specific regions of the brain were activated sequentially, according to where the subject was in Yoga Nidra. What happens in the brain during Yoga Nidra or where it happens is not a matter of chance. There was a surprisingly significant similarity between the pictures of the seven yoga teachers who were measured. Something that may seem paradoxical to those who have no experience of meditation, is perhaps the fact that these clear results, which reveal a high degree of concentration, are brought about entirely without effort. While you are lying in Yoga Nidra, you are not trying to force the various things that you experience. On the contrary. The EEG shows that you are completely relaxed from start to finish. You just listen to the instructions and experience clearly what happens, as a child listening to a fairy tale - active and participating, but without effort. The results confirm the experience of the yogi: Concentration is a spontaneous state, which comes of its own accord when a method is used that removes whatever is hindering it. And as the doctors said: “It proves that the 1.5 kg (brain mass) with the unknown content can control its own activity in an astonishingly precise manner. From a holistic point of view, it indicates that the soul and body act in unity.”
Why it is interesting - a comment by psychologist Ronny Öhrnell. The EEG measurements have previously only been one dimensional - skin resistance, blood pressure etc. - and have only shown that the state changes. That means that a perpendicular dimension has been described, for example a deepening of the state. On the other hand, it has not been possible to measure or substantiate the content of that altered state. With this latest research, a horizontal dimension is added to the measurements of the altered state of consciousness, giving it life. What occurs on the deeper levels of consciousness can now be measured and shown. The research shows that some sensory centers in the brain are active, but that activity is internal. From our own experience, we know that internal experiences are more changeable than those we see and hear through our senses in the reality around us. Our thoughts, our imagination and our dreams continuously take on new forms. When we allow these centers to be involved with the inner experiences, where then do the impulses come from when we are not aware of anything from outside? From deeper planes? From the surroundings, after all? Or are they formed there, in the sight and touch centers? Does the language center have the same function on the deeper inner plane? Or does it have other functions? There is a “new” world to be discovered here. It can be done by taking measurements and by combining the measurements with the account the meditator gives of what he or she experiences on the way. The research also confirms a lot of what was previously described about relaxation and meditation by people who knew it through their own experience - and that what you experience within, is another reality to that of the external senses, which to a degree obey different laws.
Consciousness during Yoga Nidra is in a very deep and stable state. At the same time the measurements show, for the first time, that one can be completely aware in such a deep state that one can consciously experience and control the brain’s activity simultaneously. This confirms that meditation is a fourth major state, equal to dreaming, sleeping and wakefulness (see also page 5). The results can therefore be said to be very important news within this field of research! !
This picture is based on the photographs taken prior to and following Yoga Nidra. It illustrates the state closest to normal waking consciousness, though without being a tired or stressed state. Those who use Yoga Nidra remark that not only do they benefit from the deep relaxation while doing it, but that it has a definite beneficial effect on the rest of their day. In this picture it is the front of the brain that is responsible for the superior control and which is active. One of its capacities is to ensure that we can function in a complex society, as it “processes” the signals from the deeper emotional and instinctive regions of the brain. The brain stem and the cerebellum are also active, indicating that one is “ready for action”.
This picture shows the general state during the entire Yoga Nidra. The visual centre at the back of the head and the centre for tactile sense (sense of touch and direction) at the top of the head are active and are in contact with the limbic system. This implies an increased ability to visualise and, more importantly, that there is better contact with emotions. Some of the teachers also had distinct activity in the centre for long term memory, which is consistent with accounts from people who meditate, that very lucid memories can appear during or after a meditation. It must, however, be emphasised from our side that the subjects’ experience and their regular use of Kriya Yoga possibly intensifies the effects of Yoga Nidra.
This picture is created on the basis of measurements taken during the experience of happiness and at the end of the relaxation during the experience of identity, of being centred. During these “abstract experiences” in Yoga Nidra, the centre for speech and language was especially active. It must be said, however, that the pictures only show the areas where the most activity occurs, and not the general activity in the whole brain, as is shown in picture 2.
It was primarily the visual and tactile centres which were active as the subjects went through the body’s different parts (especially the face) and experienced a pleasant summer day in the country. When looking at these pictures (1, 2 and 4) one must imagine that the luminous areas are within the brain, and not only on the surface of the cerebral cortex. In picture number three, on the other hand, the activity is in the cortex. All active areas were basically the same, that is symmetrical, in both brain halves.
Tantra and Yoga Nidra
- a little about the tradition behind Yoga Nidra
Tantra is a timeless tradition with methods for raising consciousness. The word Tantra actually means to expand - consciousness, knowledge of life - and to liberate - one’s self. The knowledge on which Tantra is based has been in use since the matriarchal period in prehistoric times, where women were not repressed and mythology was founded on fertility and feminine energy. Tantra still contains elements from that era. The religious aspects of Tantra show that women dominate in the form of goddesses - and women are equal to men in the performance of the rituals. only lecherous and without sense for the deeper perspectives - wanting just a little taste only to hurry on to something else. It is important to safeguard the tradition, so that the genuine methods are not lost, misunderstood or diluted.
“At the point of sleep when sleep has not yet come and external wakefulness vanishes, at this point being is revealed.” (Vigyana Bhairava Tantra)
by Swami Janakananda
Intentional language in Tantra and elsewhere
Much of what we find in Tantra is therefore secret; it was either not written down or, when writing was introduced, was written in code language, which in Sanskrit is called Sandhabhasa. These codes, or paraphrases, may appear as innocent stories - well, not always innocent. They may also have a pornographic content to scare or fascinate the reader so he would not discover the hidden content of the text. The real practices, if they were written down at all, were hidden in rituals, religious or sexual texts, or behind names or numbers that would have had to be swapped with other words. They could only be understood by someone who had already been initiated part of the way - but even then the practices described in the scripts remained veiled in innuendo compared to when one receives guidance directly from another individual, for example, when instructed in advanced meditation. This was not only an Indian phenomenon; it was also found in other places, among them on Iceland, where it was called Launmál (hidden language), meaning that behind the story, lies another story, an initiation, a practice.
To meditate or philosophise
The “real” Tantrics use methods and have experiences - they act. They don’t philosophise and are reluctant to write down anything at all. If they do, then it is solely for the purpose of inspiring others to do something, to meditate etc., instead of philosophising. It is therefore important to understand that Tantra is built upon practice and not on theorising, where experience is forgotten and the understanding of terms, mythology and wisdom becomes more important than wisdom itself. Not everyone understands what it means to walk the path of self realisation. For the teacher the object is to teach those who are receptive and who will actually use what they learn. However the teacher withholds his or her knowledge from those who are merely curious or sensation-seeking and who, with regard to the sexual rituals, are
© Peter Appel
The aspirant is tested
The aspirant receives various tasks over a long period, to ensure that his or her attitude is open and receptive. It is important to know whether the aspirant will misinterpret the teacher’s intentions and actions, and if the person in question really will abandon fear and habitual thoughts about his or her own limitations. Also, the student must be prepared gradually with various easier practices,
and above all, his or her patience must be set to the test. Life in an ashram or in the teacher’s home can provide the right environment for this training. A clear and well known example is Milarepa’s relationship with his teacher Marpa. Marpa gave the appearance of being a drunken, unreasonable and choleric farmer. But judging from the result of the training he gave Milarepa, he must have been one of the best teachers that ever lived, at least the best for Milarepa - Tibet’s great guru. In short, Milarepa had to undergo a twenty year long training, with hardships that on occasions almost wore him out, and frustrations - that made him run away several times - about not being allowed to take part in the secret doctrines, which in all probability contained meditation techniques along the lines of Kriya Yoga and Inner Silence (see previous issues of Bindu). My teacher Paramhansa Satyananda stayed with his teacher Swami Sivananda for twelve years in Rishikesh. He did mainly Karma Yoga there, which consisted of various practical tasks in the administration of the ashram and with its printing press. Later he travelled around India as a mendicant. For a period of his wandering years he had the possibility to withdraw and, among other things, practise the methods he had learnt in his daily association with Swami Sivananda. His teacher had also put him on the track of things in the yoga and Tantric tradition, which during his travels he could find, draw forth and investigate - subsequently he was ready to teach others himself. Swami Satyananda was an exceptional teacher - no one else, neither before nor since, has elucidated the Tantric practises to such a degree. I write in the past tense, because he has now retired as a teacher.
Theory or practise
It is my experience that the more one talks of, for example, meditation in theory instead of practising it, the less one’s mind believes it is necessary to do it - after all you “know it all already.” The problem is that merely “knowing” has no effect. The body and mind have no use for knowing, if the exercises are not applied. A few years ago I experienced something interesting during a month long Kriya Yoga course that I held. Students come to learn the great Kriya Yoga in silence. They have been prepared by previous courses with various yoga and meditation methods and with a certain amount of theory. Apart from a few talks and discussions at the start of the course, I felt an urge to just let them meditate, do yoga and to generally be engaged with practical things. In other words, I had no desire to give lectures during the period of silence, which was quite appropriate as the students do not talk, write or read anything. The silence helps to remove the deeper lying tensions and maintains a good balance in the brain while also increasing the ability to experience. Nevertheless, about halfway into the silent period, I needed to clarify a few things and to theoretically explain a little of how you can let go of automatic reactions and habits in the nervous system and in the mind. The lecture which I gave in the evening was, I am sure, inspiring for both the students and myself. The following morning the students had a physical yoga class with another teacher. After the class the teacher told me that the awareness and concentration present the other mornings was not really there that morning. The students had
daydreamed a little and time and again it seemed as though they had to force themselves to follow the instructions. It only happened that one morning during the entire course - the rest of the time they were quite alert. When the silence was over, I asked them if they could remember how they felt the morning after the lecture. I promptly received an explanation from one of them and the others agreed. He said that the interesting things they had heard the evening before had filled his head to such an extent, that his mind thought his body no longer needed to do the exercises. It was not necessary - he knew it all already.
Concept or experience
What is theory worth, when it is not based on experience? If theory comes first, the intellect will block the experience - with expectations and effort, we can be lead in the wrong direction, while a know-all attitude hinders the openness to follow and receive guidance in, for example, a meditation. It gets in the way of sensitivity and the ability to experience what cannot be written down. It all quite easily becomes indoctrination. You are told how it is, instead of experiencing it yourself. Opinions and concepts become something learnt by rote and clung to, believed in, defended, even though they are not based on personal insight and first hand experience. Take a word such as meditation. It has widely become a concept. The mind can come up with all sorts of ideas about what meditation is and actually avoid the essential. “Oh, but I have my own meditation,” and then you sit and dream a bit. You never leave the limitations of the mind behind. Some even get the bright
idea to teach on the grounds of such notions. There are those who say that they receive answers to all sorts of things in their meditation. It is probably true, but oh, they never leave their minds in peace. It is the same with the word relaxation, which is used today to describe all kinds of things, from hypnosis to music. There are even some good musicians who call their music “meditation.” One can only hope that their audience can enjoy the music without allowing themselves to be limited by such a claim. In the 70’s I recognised the problem with these labels as I prepared the release of a Yoga Nidra tape. I wanted to make it clear what Yoga Nidra was about and called it a “deep-relaxation”. It only took a few months before that description was used for every kind of possible and impossible relaxation. Unfortunately, the name Yoga Nidra is also used today for relaxations that have nothing to do with the effective technique that stems from the Tantric tradition and which we are discussing in this issue of Bindu. Apart from what can be palmed off on us by others, the ideas that people themselves form of meditation can really stand in the way of reaching the relaxed or meditative state; such as the assumption that the mind should firstly be controlled. The mind does not stop, so why fight it and get frustrated? Learn to bypass it by using a method and allow the mind to calm down by itself. What does one get from meditation, if it does not give noticeable energy and zest for life in the day to day, and from relaxation, if one does not come out of it with greater clarity, calmness and overview? Meditation is a break from all
impressions, a way of emptying the mind. It is also a search for one’s true identity, one’s center - and for this you need methods that ensure you don’t cheat yourself, but really reach your innermost.
The purpose of the sexual ritual
“While being caressed, sweet princess, enter the caressing as everlasting life.” (Quotations: Vigyana Bhairava Tantra) The famous or notorious sexual rituals (of which I have written a variation in my book Yoga, Tantra and Meditation in Daily Life) is a good example of Tantric rituals and practises having other purposes than people normally think. It is usually believed to be an excellent therapy for people with sexual problems, or is thought to help achieve greater sexual freedom, and intensify sexual enjoyment. Yes, it probably can - but it has another purpose. “At the start of sexual union, keep attentive on the fire in the beginning, and, so continuing, avoid the embers in the end.” It is a matter of capturing the mind and the sex drive is well suited for this purpose. “When in such embrace your senses are shaken as leaves, enter this shaking.” When you are prepared through all the various practises belonging to the ritual, apart from bathing, eating etc., then the desired result is inevitable. “Even remembering union, without the embrace, the transformation.” The purpose is to expand consciousness and increase the energy.
The ritual in meditation helps you bypass the limitations of the mind
Classical meditations from Tantra and Zen show this alternative approach. The Tantric meditation is contained in the ritual. The Tantric ritual consists of methods which continually occupy the mind, leaving the thoughts to do as they please and drift by in the background. There is no need to struggle with them. You have something else to do. And if for a moment you become preoccupied with a thought, then all you need do is realise it, remember what it was you were doing and return to your practise. Kriya Yoga is an example of this, using methods that open and cleanse the energy flows in the body, raise the level of energy and create an absorption that is independent of the mind’s endeavours, expectations and ideas. In Yoga Nidra one does not try to relax, but rather occupy the mind with the methods given. The relaxation is triggered - it comes by itself. How long can one concentrate on a thumb for example? One second? Two? The mind wants to go on to something else. Therefore the restlessness of the mind is accommodated and consciousness is transferred to the index finger and so on. The mind is occupied in such a way that it does not have time for anything else and therefore it cannot hold any tension.
An uninterrupted experience
“The meaning of life life itself provides, until we begin to inquire ” (Grook by Piet Hein) The mind can imagine all kinds of things, both too much and too little, and it loves
to argue, it loves to discuss. It can prove anything, but it can just as well disprove it. When you dare to receive directly - when you do not expect sensational “experiences” or demand an answer for everything then you can begin the transformation. The methods remain secret until you are ready to use them. You learn Kriya Yoga in silence. Not giving out the methods to the uninitiated is a principle Tantrics have in common with Celtic druids (for whom it was directly forbidden to write anything of what they had learnt), the Egyptian initiates and, to a certain extent, with the indigenous people (Aborigines) living in the deserts of central Australia. Contrary to the Celtic and Egyptian elite, Tantra was and is part of the local culture. The treasures of Tantra are not only reserved for a learned social class, but also form part of the living tradition in many villages where knowledge and
experience is passed on from person to person for generations.
comprehensive that the Tantric methods can be compared to contemporary science. In addition to methods to expand, raise and liberate human consciousness, Tantra also contains mathematics, astronomy, methods for healing and art of the highest calibre. It could be said that the Tantric tradition contains all conceivable means of helping people through life - and in mastering themselves. Unfortunately, it has become fashionable nowadays to associate Tantra with sexual rituals alone. They are, of course, a part of the tradition, just as there are people that benefit from using them - but they are just one part of the rich Tantric tradition.
We are now going to deal with a group of methods and practices that are used in the Tantric rituals - also the sexual ones, but not only there. They can also be part of what we popularly call relaxation and meditation. Their purpose is to alter the state of your physical body and of consciousness, so that you become present, receptive and sensitive to what is further happening in the ritual or in the meditation. These methods have a collective name: Nyasa.
A timeless and living tradition
Anybody who proves to be suitable and receptive can share in the Tantric knowledge. A knowledge that is so
According to the Oxford Sanskrit English Dictionary, the word Nyasa means: to place, to set on or in, to use, to touch, etc. What are touched are the body’s various parts - what is placed, is a mantra (sound), for example, on the appropriate places. It is worth noting that the dictionary further defines Nyasa as: “Mental consecration or allocation of various bodily parts to guardian spirits”. This definition is correct, as far as I can see, but is insufficient as it stands. One could just as well claim that all science is religion, as theology is still counted among the Sciences. Apparently the “facts” elucidated in encyclopaedias depend on who is supplying the information; the diverse and at times peculiar or limited definitions of Yoga and Tantra are clear examples of that. The purpose of using Nyasa in Tantric yoga, in my opinion, is to awaken consciousness, which I hope is apparent from the articles in this issue. With that in mind, however, I will now quote a definition by Agehananda Bharati: “Literally, Nyasa is the process of charging a part of the body, or an organ of another living body, with a specified power through touch.” And he continues. “For instance, by placing the fire-mudra [a way of holding the fingers when touching] on the heart region uttering the fire-mantra ‘ram’, the adept’s heart is made into the cosmic fire...” Nyasa can consist of “touching” the various bodily parts by hand. It can be performed by oneself, or by one’s partner or teacher. But it can also be done mentally, by thinking of the specific areas and calling them by name - this happens, for example, during the
“The little man” (motor homunculus) shows, along the marked band across the cerebral cortex, which regions of the brain are linked with the various parts of the body. teacher’s guidance of Yoga Nidra. Nyasa also involves the “placing” of a mantra (sound, syllable or a combination of the two - a phrase) on different parts of the body. This is done mentally, or the mantra can be said aloud. The Sanskrit alphabet, just like runes in their time in the Northern countries, does not only serve as a group of letters used to form words, but also each letter has an inherent power, a vibration that forms the basis of the science of mantra. In one form of Nyasa, the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet are distributed over the whole body. This is called Matrika Nyasa. “Matrika is the source of all mantras, the origin of all sciences and the soil from which all the principles, all sages and all knowledge are born.” (Laxmi Tantra) The above mentioned methods can be combined so that you touch your body or that of your partner, at the same time as you name the mantra for the place that you touch. Matrika Nyasa, an example of which is
given on the next page, is a different form of Nyasa from that which is used in Yoga Nidra. But if you have experienced the deep Yoga Nidra you will be able to see the similarities between one of the larger sections of Yoga Nidra and Matrika Nyasa. The earth, water, fire, air and ether (space) elements also play a role in Nyasa. The body is divided into five parts, each with its own element. And as previously mentioned, the body and its various parts can be consecrated to one or more guardian spirits - even to planets or holy places. The name of the spirits or gods, of the planet, place or element are then added to the string of mantras and recited aloud or repeated mentally. Naturally Nyasa is used because it has an effect on the body and mind - and is not just an empty ritual. Nyasa is related to, and possibly even predates, Shiatsu and Acupuncture. But whereas these other two methods are based on the physical body and their energy points and are mainly used for healing, Nyasa is more than this, in that it also has methods for “touching” and awakening the mind’s numerous dimensions, e.g. through the psychic chakras. The long and deep Yoga Nidra is based on simple and therefore very effective variations of Nyasa, from beginning to end.
Once you have followed the guidance in the deep Yoga Nidra, while lying on your back, you are then familiar with the way you move your awareness through all parts of the body; with the experience of heaviness and lightness, warmth and
cold, pain and contentment. And with how you get in contact with the chakras in different ways, and experience certain symbols, landscapes, pictures etc. There are several dimensions to our being. In daily life we are familiar with the body, breath, thoughts, emotions, moods - and with states like wakefulness, dreaming and sleeping. But there are other states such as the meditative, the shamanic, the hypnotic, the intoxicated ... The dimensions of the human being are described from the basis of different backgrounds. Jung and Freud introduced concepts such as the conscious, the subconscious, the unconscious and libido. In the European occult or mystic tradition there are concepts that to a certain degree correspond with other cultures’: the physical body, body humours (as in Ajur Veda), vital energy, the astral body and the causal body. Similarly in Europe there is, or was, a concept such as bliss (intense and independent happiness). In the Indian texts the Upanishads, we find the following description of the human dimensions:
Mode of doing Mâtýkâ nyâsa is as follows. With middle and third fingers place letter A on forehead and say Að Namaë. With first, middle and third fingers put round the mouth and say Âð Namaë. With thumb and third place letter I on right eye and say Ið Namaë. Same fingers on left eye Ìð Namaë. Back of thumb on right ear Uð Namaë and left ear Üm Namaë. Little finger and thumb on right nostril Ýð Namaë, on left nostril «ð Namaë. First, second, third on right cheek Lið Namaë, on left Lìm Namaë. Middle finger upper lip Eð Namaë. On lower lip Aim Namaë. Third finger upper teeth Oð Namaë. Lower teeth Auð Namaë. Middle finger head Að Namaë. Third finger on opened mouth Aë Namaë. Then passing to the consonants, with middle, third and little fingers joined together place on right shoulder Kað, on elbow Khað, on wrist Gað. With same fingers place on lower parts of fingers of right hand Ghað and on tips of fingers Ñað, in the same way on left arm place Cað, Chað, Jað, Jhað and Òað. Then on right leg on hip-joint, knee, ankle, lower joints and tips of toes place ¥að, ¥hað, ¢að, ¢hað, Það and on the left place Tað, Thað, Dað, Dhað and Nað. With same fingers on right side place Pam, on left Pham, on back Bað. With thumb, middle, third and little fingers place Bhað on navel. On belly place Mað with all the fingers. On the heart put Yað saying Tvagâtmane Namaë with the palm of the hand. On the right shoulder with palm put Rað saying Asýgâtmane Namaë. With palm place Lað on the hump saying Mâðsâtmane Namaë. On left shoulder place Vað with palm saying Medâtmane Namaë. From the heart to the right shoulder place ×að saying Asthyâtmane Namaë. From the heart to the left shoulder Êam saying Majjâtmane Namaë. From heart to right leg place Sað saying ×ukrâtmane Namaë. From heart to left leg place Hað and say Prâþâtmane Namaë. From heart to belly place Lað and say Jìvâtmane Namaë. From heart to mouth place Kêað and say Paramâtmane Namaë. This is the Bahirñyâsa of Mâtrikâ (Tarkâlaðkâra). For those who cannot do the prescribed Mudrâs a flower may be used. (from Sir John Woodrofe: Mahanirvana Tantra) The five vital airs, along with the organs of action constitute the sheath made of the vital principle. (Prana-Maya-Kosha) Mind along with the organs of perception is the sheath made of mind. (Mano-Maya-Kosha) The understanding along with the organs of perception is the sheath made of intelligence. (Vijnana-Maya-Kosha) These three sheaths (of life, mind and intelligence) form the subtle body. The knowledge of one’s own form is of the sheath made of bliss. (Ananda-Maya-Kosha) That is also the causal body.”
The five sheaths
(from the Paingala Upanishad) “Then the five sheaths made of food, vital air, mind, understanding and bliss. What is brought into being only by the essence of food, what grows only by the essence of food, that which finds rest in earth full of the essence of food, that is the sheath made of food. (Anna-Maya-Kosha) That alone is the gross body.
The purpose of Nyasa and of Yoga Nidra is to touch and experience the various planes, to awaken consciousness in areas where it is normally dormant due to tensions. It can be in such ordinary places as organs and muscles. The tensions are thereby released, but that is only one step of the process. The aim is to experience that you are not bound to just one plane of consciousness, but that you consciously contain them all - and that leads to the insight, that one’s true identity is the experiencing consciousness behind it all. It is more than just an idea, it is something you realise - an experience. The Tibetan Book of the Dead extends this experience beyond life into the realm of death. These teachings help prepare you for the realisation that you are neither the fascinating nor the terrifying planes you encounter after death, but that they too are only experiences that you need not get trapped in on the way. In order to see the use of Nyasa in another light, let us look at what we call Chakra.
experiences is drowned in materialism and narrow-minded concepts. They play with people’s expectations and notions and have no experiences themselves. I have written about Chakra previously, in Bindu no. 4 in the series of articles on Kriya Yoga, and in a chapter of my book: Yoga, Tantra and Meditation in Daily Life. Furthermore, I have explained a little about it in the booklet that comes with the CD Experience Yoga Nidra.
body, above the perineum: Muladhara; in the spine: Swadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddhi; in the head: Lalana; and in the brain: Ajna, Bindu and Sahasrara. There are a few others, but these are the ones most commonly used.
The various dimensions of a chakra
A chakra is not only physical, but consists of all the human dimensions. A chakra can be regarded as a microcosmic image of an individual, just as an individual possibly is microcosmic in comparison to the universe. That, at any rate, is what the Hopis (in northern Arizona) say: “The living body of man and the living body of the earth were constructed in the same way. Through each ran an axis, man’s axis being the backbone, the vertebral column, which controlled the equilibrium of his movements and his functions. Along this axis were several vibratory centers which echoed the primordial sound of life throughout the universe or sounded a warning if anything went wrong.” (Book of the Hopi, F. Waters)
Energy whirls and flows
The subtle body, or energy body, consists of numerous minor energy whirls or points of consciousness. They are called chakra and are evenly distributed over the whole body (compare with Sei or Gen points in Chinese medicine). Between them flows Prana, the psychic energy (as in Ki or Chi energy) in the nadis (similar to Meridians, see also Bindu no. 4 “Yoga and the finer energy”). These minor chakras are touched in Yoga Nidra. In the beginning of the relaxation, you go through the body mentally at such a pace that you have time to just touch the places named in the guidance, but not enough to think of anything else. By thinking of these small chakra, the whole body is gradually made conscious - as are the respective areas in the cerebral cortex (see the illustration on page 16). In itself, the body is one big chakra - a point of consciousness, an energy whirl.
Chakra, the psychic centers
The word Chakra has in our “New Age” been taken out of its original context and debased. Its meaning has become limited to the physical and, at its best, the mental, while lacking the perspectives and possibilities found in the Tantric tradition, from where the term stems. To awaken a chakra and use it consciously is quite a different process from what is going on today; a whole market exists where people promote chakra cream, chakra massage, chakra machines and I don’t know what. Psychic sensitivity and the prospect of more profound
Initially the body is brought into harmony by yoga exercises. Then blockages in the energy flows are removed by breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. Yoga creates a solid and lasting balance in the entire organism and in the area of each chakra. Thereafter, additional consciousness is brought into these centers by the use of Yoga Nidra, Kriya Yoga and other Tantric meditations. Now begins a
The major chakras
The major chakras have many dimensions. On the physical level they are central areas in the body that are linked to the nervous system and the nadis. They are found at the base of the
emotions and vital energy (prana) is communicated through the major chakras. When they are awakened, you gain insight into different levels of your being, and into your normally unconscious reactions. You realise how your states influence the outcome of your actions. Eventually the chakras can be opened fully - the interpretative filters of the cosmic energy rays or vibrations are gone. When we no longer hold back, but allow all the chakras to communicate freely, with energy flowing unhindered through them, as it does through the universe, then we enter into a greater wholeness as true cosmic beings. The Rainbow Dharma by Tan Swie Hian: “In the wilderness, the voyager told the great white light, ‘I cannot look into you.’ The light immediately turned itself into eight rainbows.” Or are the above mentioned phenomena just another way of describing how the various regions of the brain communicate better as a result of meditation - which they do when you see the results of the scientific measurements and listen to people’s experiences. Better contact with the emotions and between body and mind is achieved (more about that in the next issue).
Muladhara Chakra. This article does not contain a complete account of the various major chakras. Muladhara Chakra, the fundamental root chakra, is just one example. It is situated above the perineum, between the sex organs and the anus.
cleansing of the old attachments, habits and inhibitions (vritti) rooted in our actions and mindscape. Then the chakras are ready for an awakening, where you are not carried away by deeply embedded patterns and behavioural traits (samskara) that have been imprinted on the mind over the years. During the awakening, which comes
and goes at first, until it has become completely established, the encounter with the contents of the various planes of consciousness continues. “An individual’s destiny is determined by his or her unconscious radiation,” a Danish writer, Poul Martin Møller once expressed it. The relationship between body, mind,
Tools for raising consciousness
The way Nyasa rouses the consciousness of various parts of the body and mind, and combines them with mantra (sound), yantra (potent diagrams) and symbols, has much in common with the way a chakra is made conscious or awoken.
The individual chakra can be touched in Nyasa in different ways. Many of them are used in Yoga Nidra. Here are some of them:
• Through feeling the body’s contact
areas (in the classical yoga poses, for example);
• through tones and the finer inner
sounds (this happens in Chakra Vajrohan, where tones are sung in each chakra, and through inner Nada Yoga, sound yoga - see the previous issue of Bindu - and to a certain degree by a particular form of Indian music);
Where does this knowledge of these instruments and symbols come from, one might ask. We know that such things can appear in our dreams, and therefore one could answer, that perhaps they come from that other reality, the inner one. Yes, but they also come from the experiences of the yogis. Descriptions of these keys are nevertheless only signposts along the way, to be confirmed or rejected by one’s own experience. This has been about touching (Nyasa) and a little bit about awakening, but it is far from the whole story. After a chakra has been cleansed and awoken through yoga methods and guidance, it begins to play a part in one’s conscious life. With the awakening follow abilities and a greater sensitivity, a kind of sense beyond the purely physical (see also Bindu no 4 in the article on Kriya Yoga). Furthermore, some people can see when a chakra is active in another person. My first experience of this was when I saw a spiral shaped cone of bluish grey energy, that projected from the eyebrow center of a Danish yoga teacher I knew in my youth.
On my newly released CD, “Experience Yoga Nidra” (previously on cassette tape) I use the mantras (certain sound syllables) connected to each chakra. I also use visual symbols in accordance with the traditions of India and Europe. When I started to produce “Experience Yoga Nidra” while teaching in the USA, the Indian musician Roop Verma was inspired to record the ancient musical symbols of the chakras. He was the first ever to do this. This special music has been merged with my text and guidance during the deep Yoga Nidra. Chakras are often spoken of in connection with Kundalini Yoga, a set of methods and meditations that can be used to harmonise and awaken the psychic energy. (The name Kundalini Yoga, however, is also used as the trade mark of a contemporary movement - although they only teach standard yoga). Kriya Yoga is probably the most profound and effective form of Kundalini Yoga. In an awesome way it can strengthen the body’s energy field, remove depressions, increase creativity and open you up for a first hand knowledge of the genuine mystical or spiritual aspects of life. The chakras have corresponding areas in the brain. When they are relaxed and harmonised during Yoga Nidra, the release of unwanted states such as confusion and lack of concentration begins. People who awaken their chakras through yoga and meditation, open up to a previously unknown capacity for communication, insight and creativity.
• mentally through the mind, which has
several dimensions, by naming the chakras, by placing their seed mantra there - and by the use of symbols;
• through the five elements, their
respective symbols and diagrams;
• through animal symbolism (possibly a
connection back to shamanism);
• through energy, where breathing
exercises also play a vital role in cleansing the energy passages (Nadi). In Nyasa, you tune into the frequency of various energy passages by “placing” letters or mantras on the “lotus petals”. These petals represent energy passages linked to each chakra;
Chakras in Yoga Nidra
According to Paramahansa Satyananda, Yoga Nidra actually begins with the experiencing of these chakras. The chakras are also known in other cultures, as we have seen with the Hopis in the USA, but also by the alchemists in Europe and the Inuits of Greenland and Canada, to mention but a few of the more evident examples. In the deep Yoga Nidra, we use eight of the major chakras to contact the various planes of consciousness.
• with “keys” in the form of diagrams
(Yantras) and symbols that create a contact with the chakras deeper dimensions;
• through mandala (or deities) as a seat
for (or representation of) the cosmic energy that flows through the chakra and keeps it open and clean;
• and by consciousness itself. 20
The awakening of consciousness through Nyasa releases tensions and lethargy, thereby healing illnesses; but primarily, it brings you into contact with all parts of your being. The guidance in Yoga Nidra through the different areas of the body and mind, does not only make the body more conscious and more relaxed and awake, but trains your ability to utilise the various regions of the brain, both those connected to the physical body and those connected to the chakras. From the research carried out at The State University Hospital in Copenhagen in the Spring of 1997 - which is discussed in another article here in the magazine - it appears that different regions of the brain are activated
according to the part of Yoga Nidra with which the mind is engaged (however, the section of Yoga Nidra dealing with the major chakras was not measured in this research).
Relaxation or cleansing
I have been fortunate enough to learn a Yoga Nidra which is in close accordance with Nyasa as it is used in Tantra. Just to read or study the Tantric texts tells you little or nothing of how Nyasa can be used, as for example in Yoga Nidra. In the text “Laxmi Tantra”, which gives guidance in the Tantric rituals and sexual practises, Nyasa ends a sequence, of which breathing exercises and the cleansing of the five elements are a part. This practise is called Bhutasuddhi, cleansing of the body. Here Nyasa builds a bridge between inner and outer cleansing. Does this mean that one cleanses the body and mind by mentally “placing” a mantra on a certain body part or merely by thinking of that part? The answer is yes, and furthermore by using a mudra (position of the fingers) or by mentally touching and thereby experiencing a part of the body, the body is brought to life and made conscious. Micheline Flak teaches yoga in France. She also leads R.Y.E., (research into children’s use of yoga in schools) which is described in Bindu no. 6. She made an experiment during Yoga Nidra, first with a group of yoga teachers on a seminar, and later in her daily teaching. One section of Yoga Nidra involves going through all parts of the body, by thinking of them or feeling them as they are named in the guidance. You start with the thumb of the right hand, then the index finger and so on. In this way, you
first experience the right side of the body, and then the left side. It is done in the beginning of Yoga Nidra and normally without interruption. “When I had guided them through the right side of the body, mentally feeling or touching different parts of the body in the fixed order, I stopped and asked them to notice if there was a difference between the right and the left side of the body. Afterwards when we discussed it, the students were amazed by the difference experienced through such a simple exercise.” (Micheline Flak) The students remarked that they had felt that the side of the body they had just touched mentally was alive, light and at ease, while the other side, which they had not as yet gone through, was still in that normal, slightly heavy and tired state. From my own teaching I received the following account from a female student, who is now a yoga teacher. “Many years ago I took part in a three months course at Håå Course Center. We had placed ourselves comfortably on the floor and as usual we were looking forward to a guided Yoga Nidra with Swami Janakananda. And what a Yoga Nidra! For some reason or other he went through the right side of the body twice and skipped the left side. The effect was soon felt! We all experienced a sensation which could be described quite literally as being lopsided. It was a strange feeling of having ‘lots of vitality’ in the right side, whereas it was difficult to get contact with the left. It passed, but I was reminded of how strong an effect Yoga Nidra really has.” (Shanti) In contemporary western culture, the word relaxation is used for all sorts of things. The actual word or term relaxation is not commonly used in
Sanskrit in India in connection with yoga and Tantra. There the field of “relaxation” comprises various techniques, which are called by different names, the word cleansing (suddhi) being one of them. But the results of these methods are the same as what we achieve through what we term relaxation. Relaxation means to remove tensions - the body and mind are cleansed of tensions. That the body and mind actually form a whole is common knowledge today. It is expressed by the word psychosomatic. Tensions of the mind create tensions in the body and vice versa; removing a tension in the mind removes it in the body. In Nyasa, and therefore in Yoga Nidra, this happens without trying to relax. One experiences the body consciously, and that alone releases tensions.
For the relaxation itself to be effective, the relaxed state should not be induced by techniques or methods that are based on hypnosis - one should not use suggestions to get into an artificial and limited state. When you experience Yoga Nidra, you will notice that you are never asked to relax, or to imagine that a particular part of the body relaxes - the word relaxation is not used at all during the guidance. That is not what Yoga Nidra is about. Yoga Nidra consists of techniques that trigger a state where one’s being is vitalised - the result is a stable and unbroken state of relaxation in the body and the entire brain while practicing Yoga Nidra. (See also the two articles by Robert Nilsson in this issue). Nyasa (and thus Yoga Nidra) is fundamentally different to a lot of modern therapies, which are only based on hypnosis, even though they do not call it hypnosis, but use other names and trade marks - yes, sometimes even the word meditation. “Do not waste your time trying to change people’s mentality. After you, some Hitler might come and ruin everything anyway,” Swami Satyananda once said to me, when I was ready to return to Europe to teach. He shocked me deeply by using such a potent picture - what did he mean by that? What help is it to have everything explained to you by an authority before you have experienced it yourself? It is so easy to be influenced by someone who comes along with a powerful image and a “quick” solution and allow yourself be taken in and have the wool pulled over your eyes. People cannot be free, unless
you teach them that through their own practice they can achieve real independence of influences and a transformation of body, mind and consciousness. Swamiji meant, in other words, that rather than try to change people’s outlook and habits, I should help them so that they themselves can acquire an overview, insight and wisdom. Though that does not mean they should avoid being consistent and steadfast. Experience, insight and realisation are the opposite to hypnosis. Hypnosis is like burning incense in a room that smells in order to hide the odour. The ability to experience, to make conscious, is like cleaning the room and airing it. Personally I do not want methods that program me, but ones that liberate me from old programs and expand my consciousness. “Everything is hypnosis,” you might say - and I can understand why you might think so. We are influenced by all kinds of things from cradle to grave. That is exactly why we need tools to occasionally empty the body and mind of the accumulation of impressions, habits and automatic thinking. Liberation, after all, lies in using insight and awareness in order to see through one’s influences. The wise person does not react against influences, he does not try to stop them, instead he experiences everything, and lets go of what he does not need. It is on this basis that meditation has come into being. Myths, which we constantly create to avoid a direct experience of life, are very much a form of hypnosis. With hypnosis, notions of reality often take the place of reality itself.
You make a resolution,
Using a resolution in Yoga Nidra is good and effective. It would be foolish not to make one, when you can use it to influence the direction of your life. You make only one resolution in order not to spread your energy and confuse your mind. If you use a number of resolutions or visualisations, you will probably achieve some results, but nothing deep and lasting. For half an hour or longer, every day or once in a while, you can allow yourself to relax in the face of your usual thoughts and emotions and let them flow by. By momentarily not hooking on to everything that crops up in the mind, you remember who you are and doubts can not take root. In the relaxed state, your resolution works with an undiminished strength. (Read more about this in the booklet accompanying the CD).
Throughout human history there have been countless examples of people wanting to know what they should think about reality, instead of experiencing it for themselves. So armoured, they can disagree with “the others”, those who have (allowed themselves to be influenced in having) a different world view to themselves. Different interpretations of reality can then clash and, on a larger scale, create religious and political wars. The individual whose expectations are not met by the promises of the latest mythology or therapy, often end up in a state of bitterness and frustration - and look for the cause outside themselves. Even the teacher who is available to help one out of limitations is sometimes accused. Regardless of how clever the teacher is, he cannot be held responsible for fulfilling the expectations of the students - provided that he or she has not helped to create the expectations. In the end it is the individual him/herself and society that are responsible for the expectations they have and no one else is answerable if they are not met. Intolerance towards those who think differently does not arise amongst individuals who are aware and who experience instead of theorising. My experience is personal and I realise that others do not necessarily need my experience and my interpretation - they have their own. However we all have more or less the same kind of organs and nervous system, and more or less the same kind of mind. We have learned this through both modern science as well as the several thousand year old tradition and experience in yoga and Tantra - therefore one can unearth and preserve techniques and methods that work regardless of
which attitude to life, which nationality, background and age one has.
themselves, to have the courage to accept them, is to live consciously. “A great saint, a mahatma, a yogi, a prophet or a gyani lives on this earth like any other human being. He thinks, enjoys and eats like others. The great difference between a yogi and an ordinary man is that he has awakened a dormant faculty in man called awareness, whereas the ordinary man has not. He is always aware. He is called a drastha - a seer. He is the witnesser of events. Your aim on the path to realising and awakening your dormant potential should be to gradually unfold this faculty of awareness within you. Become a seer…” (Paramhansa Satyananda)
We must each make a choice...
Naturally we need to make a choice in relation to what we want to do with our lives, and therefore a choice of influences and of resolutions that we want to follow. The reverse would be to sit behind the steering wheel of a moving car without taking hold of it and steering. And the higher we set our goal, the easier other things fall into place by themselves. “The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence also moves. All sorts of things occur to help which would not otherwise have happened. A whole stream of events flow from the decision, bringing all sorts of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no-one could have foreseen.” (W.H. Murray, inspired by Goethe) “What ever you can do, or dream you can; begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic. Begin it now.” (Goethe) What Goethe expresses here is not a postulate, but an observation which he wishes to convey, which makes him a mystic and not a priest repeating doctrine by rote. It is obvious that there must be a balance between influences (one’s resolution in Yoga Nidra) and making conscious. The expression ‘to make conscious’ does not mean in my language to analyse and judge, but touch, awareness, receptiveness, participation and - the placing of consciousness, Nyasa. To feel or just to think of a place, is enough to bring life to it. To be aware of the possibilities in life that present
To make conscious by thinking of certain places in a precisely determined sequence, or by feeling these areas, or by naming the places mentally, is probably the easiest, the original and perhaps therefore the most fruitful of all Nyasa practises - by experiencing warmth and cold, heaviness and lightness, pain and contentment, and whatever else Yoga Nidra consists of, like Chakras, certain symbols and landscapes that one remembers. In the deep Yoga Nidra all the parts of your being, all your potentials, are touched, named and vitalised through Nyasa, and it is precisely this experience which creates well-being and clarity. It is due to Paramhansa Satyananda’s genius that we can use this effective method of Yoga Nidra today, and we must credit him for revealing Nyasa through the Yoga Nidra relaxation in a way through which everybody can benefit. !
What on earth do they use it for…
Different people’s experiences of Yoga Nidra
“Listening to a relaxation tape,” she said. She had been on a yoga and meditation course. I was going to set her hair beautifully as it was her wedding day, but now instead I had to stop doing it and wait for 20 minutes. She seemed to think that taking this time out was natural, and I was expected to accept the break and wait - but I felt the irritation rising. That was not the way to treat me. The break did us both good however. If she had not put a brake on my enthusiasm with comb, curling brush and spray, a wig would probably have been the only way out. Both she and I had become calmer when she suddenly rose and said that now we could continue. Her hair style was fine - and she got married. Seven years later when I had “burned myself out”, the wise doctor I visited told me my workplace probably wouldn’t fall apart if I took a stress break. He was right. It was still there when I returned. I rested and as I had plenty of time, I borrowed some books about being burned out. They all stressed the importance of relaxation to enable the body to get rest and gather new energy. The claim seemed sensible, but how did one go about it? I found it difficult to unwind. I went on a trial yoga lesson. We were asked to listen to all the sounds around us, without listening to anything in particular. That was fantastic. I heard a lot of things that I normally wouldn’t have perceived, although I left with the same set of ears as I had arrived with.
From a female Norwegian boxing champion
As an active athlete and one of Norway’s female boxers, I used to have a recurring problem before many matches. I was very nervous and tense during the period just before a fight - several days in fact before a boxing meeting. My body behaved like a battery which had discharged its energy. I was really disappointed to lose fights where I could not do my best simply because I lacked the energy. I understood that I had to learn to relax, but how? My knowledge of meditation and the positive things it can give a person, wasn’t great either. When I received a Yoga Nidra tape from a friend I realised that I had nothing to lose in trying it. For a week prior to the next boxing event, I used the tape every day, and I felt that it helped me reduce the tension in my body. Right before I had to box, I lay flat on my back in the dressing-room and meditated to Yoga Nidra. My coach thought I had gone crazy, and made a scene because I didn’t warm up the way a boxer ought to. I then went up into the prize ring and boxed brilliantly, not only because I had more energy in my body, but also because Yoga Nidra had sharpened my concentration and cleared my head! Since then Yoga Nidra has become a
permanent companion in my daily life and before boxing tournaments. By the end of 1996 I had become Norwegian champion and received the boxing association’s cup for best female boxer. This would have been hard to achieve, had it not been for Yoga Nidra, which taught me to relax and at the same time clear my mind, so it became easier to box in a smarter and more tactical way. (Anita Bertelsen)
Yoga Nidra and adverse side effects from medicine
I am schizophrenic, and Yoga Nidra helps me greatly. The drugs I take have numerous and strong side effects. But even after just a short time practicing the long Yoga Nidra, the side effects have practically disappeared altogether. At the same time schizophrenia is very much characterised by fear. But each time I use Yoga Nidra I experience the fear decrease little by little. (From a person in a Hospital in Denmark, whom shall remain anonymous)
The wedding of my younger sister
My younger sister was lying on her bed, as if dead, listening to a Walkman.
We did some physical exercises. It looked easy but I was very stiff. I got hooked and went to several courses to loosen up. At one lesson we listened to a relaxation tape. I bought the tape, because I thought it might be good to have. The need to use it proved to be almost daily. I told my sister about the tape. It turned out that I had been taught by the same yoga teacher as she and now had bought the same tape as she listened to on her wedding day. Now I listen to the tape almost every day after work. How insolent of me to just throw myself on the bed and let everyone and everything be for 20 minutes, while I am lying as if dead! It is wonderful. No one in my family has any objections to my habit (some might call it a bad habit) because they see the results. Now I do yoga, relaxation and meditation on a regular basis - and I am happy that I am more inquisitive and curious rather than sceptical, so that I tried it - because it helps me. Try and see! The tape my sister and I listen to is the deep relaxation Yoga Nidra guided by Swami Janakananda from the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School. (Hélén Persson, Sweden)
Sometimes he falls asleep afterwards and sleeps for half an hour to an hour. Then he eats his breakfast and goes to work fresh and rested. This he can do without a problem three nights a week. For a period I practised Yoga Nidra just before going to bed. I had felt tense when bedtime came and wanted to improve my sleep. Instead of going to bed like I used to at half past ten, I began to listen to the long Yoga Nidra. When the tape was over at a quarter past eleven, I went to bed and fell asleep right away. To my surprise I woke up completely rested at five o’clock, 45 minutes earlier than I used to get up. For several weeks I did Yoga Nidra at the same time every night, and I kept waking up at the same time every morning. A woman dancer, was on one of our post natal yoga courses. She told me that after giving birth she felt stiff and full of aches in her muscles, just like after training her dance exercises. But after each class, which involves physical yoga and Yoga Nidra, the aches in her muscles were gone. She wondered why. Swami Satyananda once said that an hour of Yoga Nidra is equal to four hours of sleep. And I have read that you need four hours of unbroken sleep for the muscles to relax enough to allow the blood carry away the lactic acid that has accumulated there. This woman never slept that long at a stretch without being woken by her baby, and therefore the lactic acid remained in her muscles and caused the pain. Could it be that her muscles relaxed as much during half an hour of Yoga Nidra as they would during four hours of unbroken sleep? (Mira)
How Yoga helped me overcome shingles
In July, 1995 I woke one morning with a severe pain down the side of my nose. I thought it was the beginning of a sinus attack so I did nasal cleansing and Nadi Shodhana [a yogic breathing exercise]. While this relaxed me, the pain was still intense and by that night had centred in my right eye. My doctor diagnosed shingles. Unfortunately, as it was a late diagnosis, the optic nerve had already been affected. I was in terrible pain and, as shingles affect the nerve endings, I suffered from deep depression, especially at night. But then I began to get up early each morning, - usually between 4 - 5 am - to do Yoga Nidra. After that I was able to return to bed relaxed and much more comfortable, which helped greatly. In the afternoons I began to do 20 minutes or so of Nadi Shodhana which relaxed my head and really helped the pain. After a couple of weeks of this routine I was amazed at how much better I felt and by degrees I was able to do simple eye exercises such as Palming, Sideways viewing etc. After four weeks I was told at the eye clinic that, in spite of initial scarring of the retina, my sight was now perfect. I had used reading glasses for small print but I now find that I don’t need them anymore. As I was sixty last year I feel that this is something of a record. I would recommend yoga to anyone suffering from a severe dose of shingles such as I had, especially in the delicate eye area. (Dympna Dreyer, Waterford, Ireland)
Yoga Nidra and Sleep
A man who recently took part in one of our courses at Håå Course Center used to work at his computer far into the night. He told me that he had found a way, to a large extent, to replace sleep with Yoga Nidra. Around four o’clock in the morning he turns off his computer, takes a shower, and places himself on a rug on the floor and listens to the long Yoga Nidra.
Getting to know the silence...
Why is a group of people silent for 21 or 33 days when they learn Kriya Yoga at Håå - and for three days when they participate in the shorter 10-14 days holiday courses with yoga and meditation? What kind of silence do you discover when you do not talk, write or read?
Do you recognise the situation, when from a detached position you watch a quarrel between two colleagues, or between children? Impartially you experience the confusion without being part of it. In the same way you can experience thoughts, emotions and attitudes, rather than letting yourself become immersed in them. To have this experience, however, you have to create a foundation, and that comes about through the interplay between the different things we learn on the courses. When I meditate I do not try to stop or change the flow of thoughts. I let it be, and little by little I can experience my personality and all that it involves. During meditation I don’t need to defend or fight anything in myself. On the contrary, I discover that I can accept my habitual pattern of thoughts, emotions and reactions.
by Omkarananda Meditation and Yoga from the tantric tradition at Håå Course Center in South Sweden
The courses begin with simple tension releasing exercises and a cleansing process where you flush out the stomach and the intestines, so you become as clean as a new born baby inside. In order to create a better balance in the brain and strengthen the energy, we use breathing-, concentration- and eye exercises. Step by step you become familiar with the yoga exercises and the different meditations. Apart from yoga we spend about 1½ hours a day on practical tasks, like digging up carrots, looking after the horses, chopping wood, cleaning and cooking. (The food is vegetarian and comes mainly from our ecological gardening.) It is important that you circulate the energy which you generate in the yoga room. In this way the process of going deep and the daily activities enrich each other mutually. The courses culminate with a period of silence. On the 10 and 14 days courses there are 3 days of silence, where the finer steps of the meditations Antar Mauna (Inner Silence, a seven step Tantric meditation) and Ajapa Jap (a nine step preliminary Kriya Yoga) are taught. The Three Months Course is a unique
When I see through the movements on the surface of my mind, I find a tranquillity, which allows previously unexpressed traits of my nature to unfold.
The teachings at Håå Course Center
When you come to Håå for 10 or 14 days, or for one or for three months, to go exploring with the deep reaching yoga which is taught there - the teaching takes place under ideal conditions. In Håå it’s the same as being on a holiday in the country, but without newspapers, TV, Walkman and mobile phone, and away from daily worries and influences. That in itself provides peace. It supports the teaching in the yoga room and helps you make your body supple, sharpen your awareness, see through the habits of the mind and get closer to your own center.
initiation into the tradition. After a thorough preparation for 6 weeks, the unabridged Kriya Yoga is taught - maybe the only place in the world where it is offered - during 33 days of silence. On the 4-week long Kriya Yoga Course, which demands that you have previously taken part in a 10 or 14 days course, there are 21 days of silence. (Order the brochure about Håå.) Free time is also important. You can walk, ski or ride along the surrounding fields and in the forests. The course center has nine horses. Where the brook runs into the lake we have a boat and some canoes. The area has an unusually rich animal and bird life. There are many deer and if you are lucky you may see a moose or an otter. In the Spring and Autumn cranes, geese and swans come by. The sauna represents an old Nordic way of cleansing, relaxing and acclimatising yourself. In the “Pyramid” you float quietly in salt water. The lack of sensory input allows the mind to come to rest and the body to relax - by itself.
Like spokes joined in the hub of a wheel
All that you participate in - yoga, Yoga Nidra, intestinal cleansing, breathing exercises, the meditations, silence, garden work, free time in the Småland nature, and in the evenings, lectures or song and dance - is part of a process that paradoxically provides both deep tranquillity and extraordinary energy. Last Christmas a student called it a spiritual survival course. You return home with a greater presence, and an ability to do the tasks that are obvious and need to be done. From this, in daily life as well as during your practice of yoga and your meditation, grows your discovery of a silence in the midst of this teeming modern life. !
“You are the inner silence, the silence on the background of what you experience, that which happens in your mind.” (Swami Janakananda)
Current Courses at Håå Course Center
The Christmas Course
19 Dec. - 1 Jan. Swami Janakananda 4900 Sw.Cr.
21 - 23 November Shanti et.al. 16 -18 January Síta et.al. 14 - 24 May 24 may - 6 June 7- 20 June 21 June - 4 July 5 - 18 July 30 Aug. - 12 Sept. 8 - 18 October 1400/1100 Sw.Cr. 1400/1100 Sw.Cr.
The New Year Course
2 - 12 Jan. 4300/3300 Sw.Cr. Jørgen Hastrup & Mette Kierkgaard
Summer Courses '98
4550/3550 Sw.Cr. 4850/3850 Sw.Cr. 4850/3850 Sw.Cr. 5150/4200 Sw.Cr. 5150 Sw.Cr. 4850/3850 Sw.Cr. 4550/3550 Sw.Cr.
The Three Months Course '98
21 Jan. - 18 April 18.600 Sw.Cr. Swami Janakananda, Síta et.al.
The Kriya Yoga Course '98
18 July - 16 August 8200 Sw.Cr. Swami Janakananda et.al.
Yoga, Tantra and Meditation in Daily Life
Swami Janakananda’s book in a revised and extended edition
This book offers an alternative to the misconception put forward by many yoga books, that one must take on a new lifestyle in order to use yoga and meditation. Swami Janakananda describes yoga from within, based on his own experience - from a yogi’s point of view. As you follow the exercises in this book, you will realise that yoga is based on a profound knowledge of human nature. It is the fruit of a living tradition, where knowledge is passed directly from teacher to student, from generation to generation. Step by step you are guided through the subject and in a practical manner you can benefit from the different poses, breathing exercises, meditations and the Tantric sexual yoga. (Rider Books, UK and Weiser, USA). (Yoga, Tantra et Méditation dans la Vie Quotodienne, Editions Satyanandashram, France). “For a long time I have had a yearning to take up yoga, but have been put off by the narrow scholarly and religious approaches that often seemed apparent. Your approach, and the convenient inclusion of tantra and kundalini was so refreshing, and just what I had been looking for. I could thoroughly identify with everything you said; not only that, but I felt that the way in which you communicated your knowledge and beliefs was perfect.” (V. Williamsson, London, UK.)
Previous issues are still available: No. 3: The ability to experience. Headstand. Nose Cleansing... No. 4: Kriya Yoga I. The effect of yoga on the finer energy. The Source of Energy - a Tantric meditation... No. 5: Kriya Yoga II. Psychic energy. Six years of scientific research on the 3-Months Courses in Håå, Sweden. “The Pyramid” and Pratyahara. No. 6: The twilight hour - did we have a living meditation
tradition in the North? Invent tomorrow's education, about R.Y.E. (Research on Yoga in Education). Shoulderstand... No. 7: Silver Jubilee issue! Read about Kriya Yoga III. Yoga for pregnant women. Savasana. No. 8: Harmony between the experiencer and the experienced. On the Tantric meditation Antar Mauna (Inner Silence), its ancestors and cousins. The Lotus Pose. Intestinal cleansing. No. 9: Instructor or Guide? Yoga for the Back. Experience and Knowledge - about the yoga teacher education at the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School. No. 10: Nada Yoga, meditation on the inner sounds. Vibrations create forms. Song and dance. The Bumble bee.
Swami Janakananda abroad - Spring / Summer 1998
with lectures, seminars and weekend courses Ireland - in April
23 April 1998 at 8pm in Galway City Attitudes behind Yoga and how we can apply it in our daily life. For more information contact: Swami Shraddhamurti and Swami Chetanmurti, Tober na bhfinn, Athenry, Co Galway and Church yard St., Galway City, telephone (091) 844 449. Arrival: the evening of 29 May - or before 9.00 am, Saturday, 30 May. Train station: Tonnerre. We may be able to pick you up. Language: the teaching is in English with translation into French. Fee: 2200 FF (2000 FF if in a group of four or more), the course fee includes meals and accommodation. Booking and Payment details: contact Swami Brahmatattwa or Swami Devanath at the Aube Ashram, phone +33 (0)325700640, fax +33 (0)325700635. Early booking is advised as the number of places are limited. (Places on the seminar are still available when printing this, Nov. 1997) Don’t forget: your sleeping bag and a towel... from the audience and ends the evening with a meditation. The lecture begins at 8pm.
Intestinal Cleansing - Friday 10 July
Síta will lead you through this refreshing yogic cleansing process. We use warm salt water and four simple yoga poses to cleanse and relax the stomach and intestines. A 10 day diet period follows. For more energy, for your health and well being. From 9am - 2pm.
24-26 April 1998 in Athenry To be attended by people with good knowledge of yoga. Already booked up (September 1997).
Weekend Course 10-12 July
France - in May/June
A five day seminar:
30 May - 3 June 1998 Meditation and Self Knowledge Swami Janakananda is well known for his lucid approach to meditation and self knowledge. He and Síta will guide you through this enriching process. The seminar is centred around the tantric meditations Inner Silence and Ajapa Japa and also yoga. Kirtan as well as other ethnic chanting and dancing are also a part of it. Venue: Aube ashram, 2 hours drive, south east of Paris. The ashram is situated in a beautiful rural area, on the edge of a peaceful village, surrounded by rolling fields and woods. The address is: Centre de Yoga Satyanandashram-Aube 14 16 Rue de la Cote Régnier, 10210 Chesley, France.
Iceland - in July
Swami Janakananda and Síta (who is Icelandic) will be in Reykjavík in Iceland from 5 - 12 July, 1998 giving a lecture, a weekend course in yoga and meditation and an intestinal cleansing. All details not decided at the time of printing (Nov. ‘97).
Lecture - Sunday 5 July
A path to Self Knowledge; Tantra, yoga and meditation. An inspiring evening with Swami Janakananda. He is a lively lecturer, much saught-after and is one of the greatest meditation teachers in the world. He teaches the full Kriya Yoga from January to April on the yearly 3 months course at International Håå Course Center in South Sweden. This is his first visit to Iceland. He welcomes questions
Yoga and Meditation This course offers a transforming and rewarding experience for both those familiar with yoga and for beginners alike. Swami Janakananda and Síta will teach yoga poses, breathing exercises, simple relaxation, the meditative deep relaxation Yoga Nidra, a concentration technique and the meditation methods Inner Silence (Antar Mauna) and The Source of Energy (five steps of Ajapa Japa). Friday 10 July 18.30 - 22.00 Saturday 11 July 09.00 - 18.00 Sunday 12 July 09.00 - 17.00 Lunch-break approx. two hours For detailed information booklets or booking: Contact Síta before the middle of June at Håå Course Center (see next page). Contact in Iceland after the middle of June: phone: (+354) 5627377 from 5pm - 7pm daily and some evenings. Early booking is advised for the courses in Reykjavík, as the number of places are limited. (Places are still available when printing this, Nov. 1997)
The book: Yoga, Tantra and Meditation in Daily Life by Swami Janakananda 175 Sw.Cr. + 55 Sw.Cr. postage. Also available in other languages. New French translation of the book! See also page 28. The CD: Experience Yoga Nidra 165 Sw.Cr. + 30 Sw.Cr. postage. The tape: Experience Yoga Nidra 120 Sw.Cr. + 30 Sw.Cr. postage. Hopi Ear Candles: made of 100% bees wax and cotton; cleanses the ears. 50 Sw.Cr. + 30 Sw.Cr. postage. Nose cleansing pot with instruction brochure: Joghus, (short spout) blue, red, yellow, green or black. 165 Sw.Cr.+ 55 Sw.Cr. postage. Krutis, (long spout) blue, sand, white or green, 195 Sw.Cr. + 105 Sw.Cr. postage. The periodical: Bindu, no. 3-10, 25 Sw.Cr. each + 20 Sw.Cr. postage. See also page 28. The brochure (free): about the retreats at Håå International Course Center. (See pages 26-27).
You are welcome to support us, so we can continue to publish Bindu. Pay 45 Sw.Cr. for one issue or 80 Sw.Cr. for 2 issues + 40 Sw.Cr. postage (payment, see below). Further contributions are also welcome.
We can only accept payment in Swedish Crowns by Eurocheque, international money order or to our postal giro account 73 86 03 - 0 in Sweden. If you send a personal cheque, please add 50 Sw.Cr. (cashing fee). Please send money and order to: Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School, Håå Course Center, 340 13 Hamneda, Sweden.
Publisher: Bindu, Håa Course Center, 340 13 Hamneda, Sweden. Circulation: 4,000 in English (Also printed in German, Swedish and Danish) Printed: Håå Course Center, by Erling Christiansen & Mark Richards Layout: Robert Nilsson & Swami Janakananda. Translation: Dani Dreyer & Robyn Taylor. Pictures: Back page “Concealed Interior” (part of painting from 1987) and p.2 “Triquetra” (1988): Linda Gustavson Nameth, Sweden. Both pictures are printed in her book “På fjärilsbänken”. Front page, p. 4,24,26,27: Omkarananda. Page 9,10: Troels Kjær, Denmark. Page 12: Peter Appel, Finland. Page 19: „Mooladhara Chakra“, Anandananda, Norway. Copyright © 1997 Bindu and Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publishers.
Håå Course Center, 340 13 Hamneda, Sweden. Tel. +46 372 55063. Fax. +46 372 55036. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Sweden Germany • Egestorffstrasse 3, 30449 Hannover • Västmannagatan 62, 113 25 Stockholm tel. +49 511 454163 fax. +49 511 447281 tel. +46 8 321218, fax. +46 8 314406 email: email@example.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org Denmark • Købmagergade 65, 1150 Copenhagen tel. +45 3314 1140, fax. +45 3314 1434 email: email@example.com • Vestergade 45, 8000 Århus tel. +45 8619 4033, fax. +45 8619 4013 • Kongensgade 12 B, 3000 Elsinore tel. +45 4921 2068 Internet • www.scand-yoga.org Norway • Georgernes Verft 3, 5011 Bergen tel. +47 5614 3310 fax. +47 5614 9738 email: firstname.lastname@example.org • Skytterdalen 6, 1300 Sandvika, Oslo tel. +47 6756 9555 email: email@example.com Finland • Sukula, 30100 Forssa, Helsinki tel. +358 3 4350599
CD! ow on N Experience
with SWAMI JANAKANANDA
Inspiration for a richer life
1. The Wholeness of Your Nature, the relaxation Yoga Nidra to the sounds of Mother Earth. Composed and guided by Swami Janakananda. 20.41 2. Travel through the Space of Experience, a piece of music, composed and played on a SwaraMandala harp by Roop Verma. 7.44 3. Discover Your Self, the deep Yoga Nidra. The relaxation is guided by Swami Janakananda, to the music of Roop Verma. 45.16 With the CD there is a 20-page booklet about Yoga Nidra, and how to get the full benefits from the two relaxations. “Relaxation is a state. It is best achieved through a technique that triggers it. The blood pressure is normalised, the immune system is strengthened and the brain relaxes and cooperates better. All the organs and senses of the body are rested in a way that sleep seldom provides. Thus the senses are sharpened and you feel invigorated afterwards. The more familiar you become with Yoga Nidra, the easier it is to glide into the relaxed state. And as you come to know harmony, you are soon able to recall it instantly - in the middle of the activities of your day. What makes Yoga Nidra so special is that it touches all parts of your being through the different methods it contains. After having made the body and mind thoroughly aware and relaxed, I use, among other things, the mantras (spoken sounds) and the visual symbols of the chakras - to awaken and harmonise these energy whirls or fields of consciousness. On this CD Roop Verma, as the first musician, has been inspired to record the ancient music symbols of the chakras, which you experience with my text and guidance during the deep Yoga Nidra.” (Swami Janakananda)
Linda Gustavson Nameth - Concealed Interior
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