Whether or not one partakes of the practice of Hatha Yoga, any lover of life and seeker of truth would enjoy the path of great ease and comfort offered by the Transcendental Meditation Technique that brings the mind to fulfilment within and releases stress and tension in the body.
by Global Good News staff writer
20 May 2011
When, as Westerners, we consider yoga, we tend to think of a means to keep fit. We picture men and women in a class performing what seem to be impossible, pretzel-like poses; this is the practice of ‘Hatha Yoga’.
But there is much more to yoga than that and just taking a moment to reflect on the meaning of the term provides a starting point for the exploration of this beautiful area of knowledge.
The high purpose of yoga
Yoga means ‘union’ and offers a path to experience Being, the essential constituent of the individual, ‘the basis of all mind and matter, the basis of the entire manifest creation’.*
The high purpose of Hatha Yoga, which has existed in India since ancient times, is just that—to cultivate the experience of that unified, holistic value of life by forcefully controlling the body and breath. Fortunately, this gives rise to a style of brain functioning which allows the mind to transcend, to go beyond the surface level of life to wholeness, the unity within.
Could there be a simpler way to achieve this experience?
A simple mental practice
There is a form of yoga, a ‘mental’ yoga, which is practised sitting comfortably in a chair for only15-20 minutes twice a day. It is a technique of meditation, the Transcendental Meditation Technique, which its founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, describes as a part of Yoga. During a press conference in 2003, he explained, ‘I had to call it Transcendental Meditation, and I avoided the word yoga, because yoga was thought [of] in terms of physical exercises.’
While Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation Technique is a purely mental practice, it also has a profound benefit for the body. Maharishi elucidates the intimate connection between mind and body saying:
'Experience shows that breathing becomes faster when we run and it is slower when we sit. It is faster after we have eaten because more oxygen is needed for the digestion of the food. Breathing is slow or fast according to the work to be done by the body. The work to be done by the body depends upon how the mind wants the body to function. That means the activity of the mind—thinking— is at the basis of the activity of the body. Thus we find that the activity of the body, which directly controls the process of breathing, is governed by the process of thinking.'
Maharishi goes on to explain that during the practice of the Transcendental Meditation Technique, the mind experiences more and more refined states of thought. Simultaneously, breathing becomes more refined.
'When the mind transcends the finest level of thought to experience the source of thought, it remains conscious without being conscious of any object of perception in the outer world. The mind reaches a state where it is neither active nor passive but enjoys pure awareness, which is awareness on the level of Being. At this time, the body likewise experiences a state of no-activity and no-passivity, it too having gained the status of the unchanging, absolute Being.'
Giving the body truly deep rest and enjoying the benefits
Maharishi refers to this state as ‘restful alertness’. He uses an analogy of a bow and arrow to offer greater understanding.
'In this quiet state the mind and the nervous system are alertly poised like the arrow drawn fully back upon the bow; they are without activity, but the entire system is alert in stillness. At the same time, all the mechanisms of the body are acutely balanced and steady. It is this restful alertness of the nervous system that is its most healthy state and is the basis of all energy and action.'
Maharishi adds a very interesting insight:
'If by means of meditation one does not produce this state even for a few minutes daily, then one has no chance of providing any rest to the inner machinery of the body, which otherwise is kept functioning twenty-four hours of the day, for the whole of one’s life, as long as the breath keeps flowing.'
Extensive scientific research—over 600 studies conducted at 250 independent universities and research institutions—confirms the benefits of the practice of the Transcendental Meditation Technique on, not surprisingly, both mind and body. In addition, the studies show improvements in the area of social behaviour and in creating peace in the world as a result of this simple technique.
Bringing fulfilment to yoga
Whether or not one also partakes of the practice of Hatha Yoga, any lover of life and seeker of truth would enjoy the path of great ease and comfort offered by the Transcendental Meditation Technique. It is that yoga which automatically, with no control of any sort, ‘places the mind in the state of transcendental consciousness and brings the body and the nervous system to that state of restful alertness which is most suited to the state of enlightenment.’ It brings fulfilment to all systems of yoga.
*Quotations are from Science of Being and Art of Living by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
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