We are told from Self-Realization Fellowship sources that Yogananda often floated in the lake at Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades for an hour at a time, sometimes with his back up and other times otherwise. He could float!
One of the SRF Sisters there used to check if he was OK when floating for long. Well, he did not die from drowning, but of a massive heart attack, doctors tell. It is a rather painfree way to get out of here, but for a shock. [Sob]
Yogananda classifies kriya yoga under Raja Yoga He could have said Tantra yoga and kundalini yoga too [Cy; Kta]. Kriya yoga is a set of methods, which Yogananda made changes of in his day. The basic level method is a form of pranayama (control of the life energy, also called vitality, or prana). Learn a variant of it here for free, as you will: [Link]
In the yoga system of Patanjali the third step is asana, or posture for meditation, often used in hatha-yoga. Asanas can help steady the mind and promote health. Mudras and some yoga postures form part of kriya yoga.
The fourth step is pranayama, breath control for fixing the mind in deep concentration. Kriya yoga contains a pranayama technique with many variants.
The fifth step is pratyahara, interiorization of the mind. Many guru followers may have problems with attaining this "switching".
The sixth step is dharana, handy focusing through upliftment of mind.
The seventh step is dhyana, deep meditation, Zen, when the mind is deep-going or undisturbed.
The eighth and final step is samadhi, unification. This is the result of reaching.
Steps of Patanjali can be quite misleading: One should learn to dive inside by a good method, get interiorised by it, and go on to the pleasant phases of meditation. Yes, methods of the "sixth stage" tend to the interiorisation ("fifth stage"), and go further. Many do not learn this, or do not put reasonable weight on this stage of the meditation process. Rather then going in through a door, they remain knocking on it on the outside - "Knock-knock-knocking on Heaven's door," sings Bob Dylan. They go on breathing and meditating without getting amply interiorised in meditation.
To practice yoga through desires, for example a desire to merge with God, does not lead to the highest level of self-realisation, says gurus like Lahiri Mahasaya and others in his tradition. But Yogananda of the same tradition teaches kriya and devotion with problematic mix-ups in his explanations too. The key of solution: Practice first, and devotion (aka piousness) may rise from it. If so, try to keep your feelings of devotion right: They should be directed to one's Self (spirit, soul); that is Adi Shankara's teaching in Crest-Jewel of Discrimination. "Piousness suggests intentness of the soul on its own nature. . . . Piousness may also be called intentness on the reality of the Self" [More].
Loss of Selfhood or progress may result from pouring heartfelt devotion outwards and not directing the attention inwards first of all. Much good may be at stake. Watch out for "the ardent devotee" with flowing feelings too. He or she could all unawares be a victim - of low devotionalism and its consequences in a life. Better tidy up: Frst things first: focus on methodical, accurate practice, and maybe ample progress shines through after some time.
There is mantrayana, the mantra way, where you mentally repeat a chosen sound that works well for you. Other practices may get into it and be combined with mantra practice too, but still, the name is "mantra-way", and Milarepa recommends it. "Devote yourself to Mantrayanic study and practice," sums up the message. [Milarepa, cf. Tm 234]
Guru Dev, Shankaracharya Brahmananda, tells things about how to choose the sounds to meditate on. The TM [Transcendental Meditation] movement has incorporated his thoughts in the practices. Mantra-yoga is one of the oldest forms of yoga and mind enlightenment. By repeating one's guru-endores mantra(s) the mind can be purified and start developing, is the teaching. Go for it as wisely as you can. Such is the tradition.
Q: How about the other SRF techniques of contemplation, the Hong Sau and Om techniques?
A: Nissen: "Read about the methods and try to peel off marketing tricks before you start practising. You do not have to subscribe or submit to anything or anyone to learn and practice Hong-So along with the inflowing and outflowing breath. It is free, and online. [Link]
In TM, Transcendental Meditation, one also repeats a mantra (sound) mentally, but not aligned to the breath, and the mantra is given from among a group of mantras. How? Let it be in the dark for now. There is much research on TM; cf. "The proof of the pudding . . ." [◦Link]
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi spread TM throughout the world and thereby:
Study to your ability. Today there are more than 600 scientific studies of the various benefits of Transcendental Meditation, independently conducted at 200 universities and institutions in 33 countries. These studies, published in over 100 scientific magazines, report of improvements, such as increases in memory and concentration, a stabilised autonomic nervous system, reduced drug abuse, and decreased prison violence and fewer health problems.
Make use of the best methods available, for starters. They may take the mind inwards more or less effortlessly. Much depends on individual skills and not so much on efforts.
Statistics may offer help for getting reasonable overviews. Also, to find out things, there is qualitative research, where individual stories are studied for finding possible underlying themes somewhere. In such cases stories can be handled as (possible) resources for finding out things that matter. There may be much leeway in such studies, though. For example, what we come up with depends in part on the processing of information at hand, and how much things are messed up by anyone. All the same, varied material can be looked on as a benefit, according to good methodology.
Shankara. The Crest-Jewel of Wisdom and Other Writings of Shankaracharya. Translation and Commentaries by Charles Johnston. Covina: Theosophical University Press, 1946.
Ay: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Theosophical Library, 1946.
Cy: Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 1981.
Dr: Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Divine Romance. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1993.
Ha: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 12th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1981.
Kta: Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. Kundalini Tantra. 8th ed. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 2001.
Psy: Dasgupta, Sailendra. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2006. Pdf: yoganiketan.net and at Google Books, partial view.
Sob: Self-Realization Fellowship. Paramahansa Yogananda in Memoriam. Los Angeles: SRF, 1958.
Tm: Evans-Wentz, Walter Yeeling, ed. Tibet's Great Yogi Milarepa. 2nd ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1969.
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