The Moving Awareness

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

People think that when they practise yoga, they will experience silence, peace and quiet. That may be the final result, but the entire process from step one to the last step is not an experience of peace but continuous motion. As long as there is motion there is no peace: you will experience peace when you reach your final destination and stop your motion. When you are walking there is continuous motion rather than peace. Once you arrive, you can sit down quietly and admire the beauty of the sunset. That is the procedure that yoga adopts in dealing with the mind.

Even in kriya yoga you continuously move up and down the arohan and avarohan passages, to keep yourself engaged. That engagement allows you to focus on many different activities that happen simultaneously, which in a normal situation you would not be aware of. Even right now, you are performing many activities through your body and senses, but are you aware of them all? No! In kriya yoga, you become aware of multiple activities within one practice.

For example, in the first practice of kriya yoga, vipareeta karani mudra, you have to maintain the awareness of the correctness of the posture, the balance, the weight on your hands and shoulders, everything has to be properly adjusted, and through that you come to a proper sthiti, stable condition, of the body. After adjusting yourself physically, you focus on the stability of the body. Thereafter you become aware of the breath, but instead of feeling the breath in the throat, you visualize it flowing in a smooth and gentle manner. Visualization also helps the physical condition: you do not focus on the contraction of the throat and feel choked as your throat is compressed; rather the breath becomes a way to lead the awareness to different areas of the body. Then you focus on the chakras. That awareness at specific points in the body triggers centres that are located in those areas.

In this manner, you are simultaneously becoming aware of and managing conditions that are both physical and mental. In this process, is the mind relaxed or engaged? It is engaged. It is not a fixed awareness, it is a moving awareness. You have to move your awareness up from manipura to vishuddhi to bindu, then come back down again. This builds up dharanas, or areas of focus, areas of developing the awareness and engaging the mind to create a particular type of experience, which may or may not be sensorial.

The safety valve

If kriya yoga is done right, it leads to certain psychic experiences and awakenings. For these awakenings and experiences to happen beneficially, you need to have gone through the proper sequence, which includes balancing of ida and pingala in hatha yoga and chitta vritti nirodha in raja yoga.

The way to stabilize the vrittis begins in hatha yoga with the balance of ida and pingala, the solar and the lunar activities of life, and the clearing of vrittis continues in raja yoga. If these two processes are not done, you will not be able to practise kriya yoga. No matter how hard you try to meditate and concentrate, with imbalanced energies you will not have sufficient depth and with disturbed vrittis you will not be able to go deep into your psyche.

With dissipated mental behaviour, you cannot derive the benefit from kriya yoga or even practise it; you will get bored after some time. That is the beauty of kriya yoga: many people learn it yet very few people practise it, as they are not psychologically inclined or ready for it. After a few weeks, days or months, it fades into the background and they return to their asana practice.

This, in fact, is one of the biggest boons of kriya yoga: that those who are not ready for it, even if they learn it, will not be able to use it. Those who are ready, by learning it in the right manner, will have quick results. They already have the necessary education from previous classes and have gone through the training of hatha yoga’s ida-pingala balancing and raja yoga’s chitta vritti nirodha. Their mind is already geared to go beyond annamaya, pranamaya and manomaya into vijnanamaya and anandamaya. There is no dissipation of annamaya, pranamaya or manomaya, as all the vrittis are stabilized. This is the inbuilt safety of kriya yoga.

Kriya yoga is not a common practice or learning, as not many people are able to fulfil its two basic requirements: balance in prana shakti and chitta shakti, and management of mental dissipations and distractions. It is possible only for those who have followed the proper sequence, which ensures that one’s progress in hatha yoga has taken one through the first two koshas: annamaya and pranamaya. Then, in raja yoga, one works with pranamaya kosha and manomaya kosha, and gains access to vijnanamaya kosha, the dimension of consciousness as a meditative experience. Thereafter, in kriya yoga one is able to access the depth of vijnanamaya and have the experience of anandamaya. Therefore, the practice of kriya yoga is dependent on the perfection of hatha yoga and raja yoga. It is not a standalone practice; its foundations are hatha yoga and raja yoga.

—Kriya Yoga – Module 1, 7 November 2016, Ganga Darshan, Munger