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25 May, 2013

MANIPURA CHAKRA



MANIPURA


Introduction


       The Sanskrit wold mani means 'gem' or 'jewel'; the word pur means 'city'.  Therefore the word "manipura" means the "city of jewels'.  It is so called because of the intensity of the pranic energy of this centre.  The physical location point for manipura chakra is in the middle of the spine directly behind the  navel.  Manipura kshetram is exactly at the navel.

       Manipura chakra is the centre of prana within the human framework.  It is often called the 'sun chakra' as it radiates and distributes pranic energy of life throughout the entire body.  It is also compared to a blazing fire as it burns up and assimilates the energy in food.

       Contrary to the tantric-yogic concept, Buddhists regard manipura as the seat of kundalini.  In reality, kundalini can be regarded as residing in all the chakras.  Tantra and yoga regard spiritual life, or expansion of awareness, as commencing at the level of mooladhara.  On the other hand, Buddhists ascertain that man's consciousness begins to expand from manipura chakra.  They consider the two lower chakras to belong to the higher ranges of animal life, whereas manipura chakra marks the beginning of the evolution of the higher man.  Once consciousness is established in manipura it is confirmed awakening; there is no danger of downfall.  At the level of mooladhara or swadhisthana, consciousness is liable to recede.

       Manipura is the centre of self-assertion.  One becomes  dynamic and energetic and tends to dominate situations and other people.  There are many who function at this level.  They see all things and all people as a means of providing personal power and satisfying their worldly ambitions.  This is expressed in the predominant motive of gaining wealth and a great deal of respect.  It is at this level that people seriously begin to question their attitude towards life and their place in the scheme of existence.

Symbolism


       Manipura is symbolic of fire (agnic) principle [tattwa] and is closely related to the sense of light and movement of the feet.  

       Manipura is represented as a bridge yellow lotus with ten petals.  

Yantra


       The yantra is a red triangle and inside the triangle is a blazing sun.  

Mantra

       Ram is the bija mantra.  The animal serves as the vehicle of manipura is a ram, symbol of assertiveness and energy.

       According to hatha yoga, the practice of trataka will awaken manipura chakra because of its connection with the eyes.  One should remember that any practices concerned with developing awareness of manipura chakra will greatly benefit digestion.




Uddiyana Bandha (abdominal contraction)


Sit in siddha/siddha yoni asana or padmasana with the spine erect and the knees in contact with the floor.

Place the palms of the hands on the knees.

Close the eyes and relax the whole body.

Exhale deeply and retain the breath outside.

Perform jalandhara bandha.

Then contract the abdominal muscles as far as possible inwards and upwards.

This is the final position.  Hold this lock for as long as possible without creating any strain.

Slowly release the stomach muscles, then jalandhara bandha and inhale deeply.

This is one round.  Practice 3 rounds and gradually increase to 10 rounds over a few months.



Manipura Dhyana


Focus your awareness at manipura kshetram.

Now as you inhale imagine you are drawing the breath in through the navel and send it up the front of the body to ajna chakra.  

As you exhale chant the mantra ram on a low note.  

Chant continuously and rhythmically until exhalation is complete:  ram-ram-ram-ram.  Feel the mantra travelling down from ajna through the spine to manipura chakra.

This is one round.  Practice 13 rounds.

Visualization


Become  acutely  aware of manipura chakra.  Continue to inhale through the navel and as the breath ascends to ajna try to visualize it as a pranic light.  White streaks of light, experienced like a current of energy charging the upper portion of the body.  As you exhale visualize this pranic energy descending through the spine to manipura chakra.  Practice 7 rounds.

Then take your awareness to chidakasha.  Witness your feelings, thoughts and any sensations in the body.

Now imagine a ram manifesting in chidakasha.  A strong robust ram, kicking his hind legs out behind him.  A ram... symbol of energy and assertiveness.

Now flash to a red triangle... simple red triangle...red triangle...yantra of the fire element.

Within the triangle is a blazing sun.  A very bright sun, radiating heat.  Try to see this sun and feel its energy and warmth.

Take your attention from this blazing sun and see manipura as a bright yellow lotus.  A bright yellow lotus with ten petals.  Slowly the lotus begins to turn...ten yellow petals going around and round...spinning lotus...whirling yellow vortex of primal energy.

See yourself being drawn into the spinning whirlpool of energy.  Merge into it and feel its vibrant energy pulsating through you. After sometime this vision will fade.

Then become aware of your natural breath.

Awareness of your body and its surroundings.

Chant Om 3 times, then slowly open your eyes.

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Source:Excerpts from the book on "Sure Ways of Self realization" written by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
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20 May, 2013

Swadhisthana Chakra




SWADHISHTHANA


       The Sanskrit word "swa" means 'one's own' and 'adhishthana' means 'dwelling place, residence'.  Therefore, swadhishthana means 'one's own abode'.  The physical trigger point of swadhisthana chakra is at the base of the spine, at the coccyx (tail bone).  If you place your hand on the bottom of the spine you will feel a small bulb just above the anus.  This is the coccyx bone and the location point for swadhisthana chakra.  Swadhisthana kshetram, or contact centre, is at the level of the pubic bone in front of the body.

Swadhishthana - Home of Shakti


       It is said that swadhisthana chakra was once the seat of kundalini but there was a fall and kundalini descended to mooladhara.  Swadhisthana was the original home of shakti.

    Swadhisthana has a very strong connection with the unconscious mind and its storehouse of samskaras (mental impressions).  It is said that all one's karmas from past lives, previous experiences and impressions are locked away in the centre of the brain which is connected to this chakra.

       Swadhisthana is the centre where one is primarily concerned with seeking pleasurable sensations and instinctively motivated to obtain pleasure through the sense organs in the form of food, sex, wine, etc.  It differs from mooladhara in that here, material objects are sought in order to satisfy the need for security, but with swadhisthana chakra the emphasis is on enjoyment of the pleasurable sensations associated with material objects.  In swadhisthana, samskaras will manifest themselves in the form of overwhelming craving for food, sex, stimulants etc.


Symbolism


      Swadhisthana is a symbolic of the water (apas) principle [tattwa], and is closely related to the sense of taste.  The karmendriya is the kidneys and sex organs

     Swadhisthana is represented as a six-petalled vermilion colored lotus.  The yantra is a white crescent moon and the bija mantra is vam.  The crocodile serves as the vehicle for swadhisthana chakra. It represents the subterranean movement of the karmas and is also the symbol of the unconscious, unformed karmas.


Vajroli/Sahajoli Mudra (thunderbold / spontaneous psychic attitude)


Sit in a siddhasana / siddha yoni asana or any comfortable meditation posture in which the heel presses against the perineum.

The head and spine should be straight.  Relax the body and close the eyes.

Bring your awareness to swadhisthana kshetram.

As you INHALE try to draw sexual organs upwards by pulling and tensing the lower abdomen and contracting the urinary system.

This contraction is similar to which is made when controlling the urge to urinate.

When you have inhaled fully the contraction should be complete.

You will feel the testes or the vagina moves up a little.

HOLD the breath and HOLD the concentration for as long as as is comfortable without causing any strain.

Now as you EXHALE, slowly, with complete awareness and control, release the contraction and let the whole body relax.

This is one round.

Allow the breath to return to normal after each round.

Practice 3 rounds.  

Slowly increase the number of rounds to 10 to 15.




Swadhisthana Dhyana


Focus your awareness at swadhisthana chakra.

Now BREATH in DEEPLY.  As you EXHALE, CHANT the mantra vam on a low note.  CHANT Continuously and rhythmically until exhalation is complete: vam-vam-vam-vam-vam.  

Run one repetition into another in a mala or rosary of unbroken sound and feel the vibration resonating in swadhisthana.

This is ONE round.

Practice 13 rounds.

Become acutely aware of swadhisthana chakra.




Now try to imagine a CROCODILE.  A huge crocodile floating on the surface of still water.  Its eyes are half closed and it looks as though it may be sleeping.  Try to see this crocodile clearly.

Now flash to a WHITE CRESCENT MOON and a dark sky... a white crescent moon and a few twinkling stars shining out from a black sky...  A great expanse of water below... A white crescent moon above a great expanse of water.

EXPAND your vision outward.  See swadhisthana as a vermilion colored lotus.  A vermilion lotus with six petals.  Slowly the lotus begins to turn...six vermilion petals going around and around...spinning lotus...whirling vortex of primal energy.

See yourself being drawn into this spinning whirlpool of energy.

Merge into it and feel its vibrant energy pulsating through YOU.

When this vision has faded, become aware of your natural BREATH.

Become fully aware of your physical body and its surroundings.

CHANT OM 3 times, then slowly open your eyes.

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Source:  Excerpts from the book on "Sure Ways to Self-Realization" by Swamy Satyananda Saraswati.
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19 May, 2013

Mooladhara Chakra





MOOLADHARA


       The Sanskrit word 'moola' means 'root' or 'base'; adhara means 'substratum; or support'. Mooladhara is the fundamental root or framework of individual human existence.

       Mooladhara is situated at the perineum in the male, midway between the anus and the genitals, a centimetre or so above the skin surface.  In the a male, it is at the cervix, where the vagina and the uterus join.  It is approximately two to three centimetres inside the body.

       From mooladhara the three major nadis - ida, pingala and sushumna arise and make their ascent via the other chakras to ajna.  So, in actual fact, mooladhara is directly linked to ajna chakra in the midbrain.  Thus by stimulating  mooladhara it is possible to awaken one's  intuitive  faculties.

       In tantra and yoga, as well as in most other systems, kundalini is believed to reside in mooladhara chakra, coiled like a sleeping snake.  Mooladhara is the lowest chakra in man but the highest in animals.  When man's consciousness resides here he is unconscious of himself, but when an awakening begins to take place in this chakra the individual's understanding awareness start to unfold.

       Mooladhara is the centre where one is almost entirely self-centred and concerned with obtaining personal security, money, material objects, food, friends, etc.  The karmas of previous stages of evolution manifest in the form of anger, greed, jealousy, passion, love, hatred, sleep etc.

       According to Samkhya philosophy, mooladhara is symbolic of the earth [prithvi] element [tattwa] and is closely related to the sense of smell and the locomotion of the legs.



       Mooladhara is represented as four-petalled deep red lotus.  Its yantra is a yellow square and the bija mantra, the seed sound or vibration of the tattwa, is lam.  The Animal depicting the characteristics of the tattwa is a seven -trunked elephant.  This elephant carries the great mind and creativity.  The seven trunks represents the seven chakras, and also the seven minerals which are vital to the human body.

Moola Bandha [perineal contraction]


     Sit in siddhasana/siddha yoni asana so that pressure is applied to the perineal/vaginal region.

       Relax the body and close the eyes.

       Witness the natural breath as it flows in and out of the body.

       Now bring your awareness to the mooladhara trigger point, and at the same time maintain awareness of the breath.  Feel or imagine that as you breathe in you are drawing each breath up from mooladhara to ajna chakra.  As you breathe out your awareness flows back from ajna to mooladhara.

       You may experience the breath moving straight up and down the spine, or you might feel it moving up and down the front of the body.  It is also possible to experience the movement up the front of the body to ajna and down the spine to mooladhara.  It does not make any difference, it is a matter of personal preference and sensitivity.

       Inhale from mooladhara to ajna.  Exhale from ajna to mooladhara.  As you reach the peak of inhalation your awareness reaches ajna.

       At the moment your awareness arrives at mooladhara, your exhalation should be complete.

       Now, at the peak of inhalation in ajna chakra, hold your breath.  Perform jalandhara bandha [bring the chin to the chest].  This will help you to hold the breath.  Retain the breath in ajna for a comfortable length of time.  Then raise the head and take a short breath in and slowly exhale down to mooladhara.  Continue without strain.

       When your breathing pattern is established, add moola bandha.

       As you inhale, slowly contract mooladhara.

       Draw the inhaled breath up from mooladhara while slowly tightning the contraction of the chakra.  Make sure the rest of the body is relaxed.  The peak of inhalation at ajna is also the point of maximum contraction at mooladhara.  Perform jalandhara bandha and retain the breath and the contraction.  Then raise the head and slowly release the contraction as you breathe out.  The point of complete exhalation at mooladhara is also the point of total relaxation.

       Breathe in while contracting mooladhara.  Perform jalandhara bandha and hold the breath and the contraction.  Rotate your awarness between ajna and mooladhara.  raise the head.  Then breathe out to mooladhara and release the bandha.

       This is one round.  Practice three rounds and  gradually  build upto 10.

       Allow your breath to return to normal after each round.

       Each time you contract mooladhara, feel the psychic energy rising with the breath.  While holding the bandha, be aware of the powerful energy pulses fired from mooladhara and exploding in ajna.

       As you exhale, watch the dark space of chidakasha and feel the vital energy diffusing throughout the body.

       After you complete your practice take your awareness to chidakasha and witness your feelings, thoughts and any sensations in the body.

Practical note:


       With practice you will develop greater sensitivity of mooladhara chakra and spontaneously become more aware of the psychic dimension of moola bandha.  Moola dhyana can be practised directly after moola bandha.

       

Moola Dhyana


       Focus your awareness at mooladhara chakra.

       Now breathe in deeply.

       As you exhale, chant the mantra lam on a low note.  Chant continuously and rhythmically until exhalation is complete: lam-lam-lam-lam.  Run one repetition into another in a mala of unbroken sound, and feel the vibrations resonating in mooladhara.

     This is one round.  Practice 13 rounds.

     Become actely sensitive to mooladhara chakra.

     Now bring before your inner eye the image of an elephant.

     Huge grey elephant, still and massive.  An elephant - symbol of strength and solidarity.  This elephant has seven trunks.  See them clearly.  Visualize yourself sitting on the elephant's back.

      Now flash to a yellow square... a simple square, bright yellow.  A bright yellow square...the yantra of the earth element.

      Awaken the sense of smell.  Merge into the bright yellow square and smell the sandalwood fragrance of your psychic body... Bright yellow square... bright yellow square.  Within the square is a red triangle pointing downwards.  

     A red triangle, yantra of kundalini shakti.  Red triangle... red triangle.  Within the triangle a smoky shivalingam... Shivalingam with a serpent entwined about it.  The serpent entwined about it.  The serpent has three and half coils.  Its head is pointing upwards, towards sahasrara.

      Now expand your vision outward.  See mooladhara as a deep red lotus.  A deep red lotus with four petals.  

     Slowly the lotus begins to turn...four red petals going around and around...spinning lotus...whirling red vortex of primal energy.

       See yourself being drawn into this spinning whirlpool of energy.  Merge into it and feel its vibrant energy pulsating through you.

      After some time this vision will spontaneously fade away.

     Then become aware of your natural breath.

     Awareness of your body and its surroundings.

     Chant Om three times, then slowly open your eyes.


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Source: Excerpts from the books on "Sure Ways to Self-Realization" by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
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Chakra Location




Chakra Location


       The word chakra literally means 'wheel' or 'circle.  In the context of yoga a better translation is 'vortex' or 'whirl pool'.  The chakras are vortices of pranic energy at specific areas in the body which control the circulation of prana permeating the entire human structure.

       In each person there are myriads of chakras, but in yogic practices only a few principal ones are utilized.  These are mooladhara, swadhisthana, manipura, anahata, vishuddhi, ajna and bindu.  We utilize sahasrara which is not really a chakra for it transcends and contains them all within itself.

       Each chakra is a switch which turns on or opens up specific levels of the mind, for manipulation and control of prana in any of the centres will induce a corresponding state of awareness.  Conversely, a specific state of awareness will induce prana or predominate at the corresponding chakra.  Physical or mental stimulation of the psychic centres can lead to change the consciousness.  As an outcome, man's psychic potential blossoms forth and enables him  to realize his own higher self.

        For the purpose of practising kriya yoga or some of the more advanced forms of meditation it is important to develop knowledge and awareness of the chakras and to be able to locate them all accurately.

       If your aims is to awaken kundalini, your mind must be purified and you must be completely familiar with all the chakras.  They must be fully realized and purified.  The purpose of awakening kundalini is to bring the dormant centres of the brain into action.  Every chakra is directly connected to the brain and by awakening any of the chakras a message is communicated to its particular portion of the brain and the whole process of awakening and activation sets into motion.  Although you can commence the procedure with manipura, anahata or any other chakras, it is easier for the gross mind to concentrate on and manipulate mooladhara chakra.  

       The chakras can be divided into three approximate classes.  Mooladhara and swadhisthana, the two lower chakras, are predominantly tamasic in nature.  Actions tend to be adharmic, disharmonious and not in accordance with one's individual nature.  Manipura and anahata, the two middle chakras, are a mixture of positive and negative qualities.  Here rajas predominates, where actions and thoughts are a combination of dharama and adharma.  Vishuddhi and ajna, the two higher chakras are predominantly positive and sattwic.  One tends to follow dharma and one's actions and thoughts are in accordance with one's individual nature.


Chakras in religions and other traditions


       The use of chakras as a means of spiritual awakening is widely recognized by most religious and spiritual societies of the world:  Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Egyptian, Kobbalist, Rosicrucian and so on.  There are exists an interesting and exact correlation between the chakras and the kyo shos or pressure points in one branch of  esoteric  Japanese judo.  They also correspond exactly to acupuncture points in the spine and acupressure points massaged in shiatzu, a form of therapy from Japan.

Chakra symbolism



       The chakras have been known in all parts of the world and throughout history by illumined and psychic people.  They are not confined to one system, for they constitute the fundamental make-up of man.  People of the so-called 'primitive' societies knew the chakras from their own experiences.

       A more complex societies began to develop, the chakras were symbolized according to social codes of language, art and convention.  Due to these different symbols, many people regard the chakras to be more fanciful concepts of the mind, instead of realizing that the experience of the chakra cannot be represented in a concrete words and diagrams.

       Whereas the Rosicrucians use roses to symbolize the chakras, in yoga and most other systems the major chakras are represented by lotus flowers, each with a specific colour and number of petals.

      The lotus symbolizes man's spiritual growth from the lower to the higher states of consciousness.  It starts its growth in the mud (ignorance), grows up through the water in an effort to reach the surface (endeavour and aspiration) and eventually reaches the air and sunlight (illumination).

      The meaning of each chakra can never be fully explained in words.  They must be experienced to be understood but, at the same time, there are general attributes associated with each chakra.  There is a great deal of symbology to be found in the ancient yogic texts which should not be misunderstood to represent the actual experience of the chakra.  They symbolize and express the experiences one feels when the chakras are stimulated and awakened.


Chakra sadhana


      In the following articles, we shall give brief description and the sadhana for each chakra that will enable you to locate the chakra accurately.  We shall also give meditation practices to further develop your understanding and awareness of each chakra.  Teachers might adopt the visualization section of the chakra, meditations and introduce them to their students as visualization sequence in yoga nidra.

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Source: Excerpts from the book on "Sure Ways to Self-Realization" by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
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11 May, 2013

35 Qualities of a true devotee



     In the Chapter XII of last portion of Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna enumerates the qualities of bhakta, devotee of God.  He deems those possessing these qualities His true devotees. Devotion to God is not blind faith, mere prayer or routine ritual.  True devotion comprises these outstanding qualities.  It also envisages conscious effort to instill these values in his practical living.  The Lord declares Krishna affirms those living these qualities are exceedingly dear to Him.

Devotion and Love


       Devotion and love are two forms of the same emotion.  They  differ only in direction.  When your emotion flows towards a lower object or being it is called 'love'.  You love your children.  Love your pets.  Your home.  When you direct the same emotion towards a higher being it becomes 'devotion'.  You are devoted to your parents.  Devoted to your guru.  To God.   Devotion is not something that one can pass onto another.  It has to be cultivated through your own efforts.  The thirty-five caste values help you develop devotion to god.

35 Qualities of true devotee [Bhaktha]



       The 35 qualities of a true devotee that are mentioned in the verses 13 to 20 of Chapter XII  of Bhagavad Gita are given below:

1)  Not hating any being
2)  Friendliness
3)  Compassionate
4)  Free from attachment
5)  Free from egoism
6)  Balanced in pleasure and pain
7)  Forgiving
8)  Contentment
9)  Yogi One uniting with the Self
10) Self-controlled
12) Having Firm conviction
13) Surrendering the mind and intellect to God.
14) The world not being agitated by him.
15) He being unagitated by the world.
16) Absence of joy, envy, fear and anxiety
17) Desirelessness
18) Purity
19) Competence in action.
20) Indifference
21) Freedom from anxiety
22) Renunciation of the fruits of action
23) Absence of elation, hatred, fear and desire.
24) Renunciation of good and evil
25) Equal-mindedness towards friends and enemies
26) Equanimity in honour and dishonour
27) Equanimity in heat and cold
28) Equanimity in joy and sorrow
29) Non-attachment
30) Equal-mindedness in praise and blame
31) Silence
32) Contentment with what-so-ever obtained by chance.
33) Absence of attachment to home.
34) Firmness in decision
35) Devotion to God


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Source: Commentary on Srimad Bhagavad Gita by
Swami A Parthasarathy.
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