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30 November, 2014

Inner Silence - Antar Mouna - Guided Meditation Technique

       Antar Mouna means 'Inner Silence'.  Antar Mouna is a series of guided meditation techniques that progressively cultivate witnessing, mindfulness and ultimately, self-awareness.  

  • Witnessing is the ability to remain self-aware and aware of the mind at the same time.
  • Mindfulness is the ability to remain aware and present in each moment.
  • Self-awareness results in self-knowledge and a sense of purpose.

       Antar Mouna teaches you the two most important elements to develop your mind take the first steps towards self-mastery.  It empowers you to:

  • Better manage your thoughts, emotions, memories, desires and attitudes.
  • Deal with and prevent anxiety, depression and cognitive decline.
  • Clean the mind of old toxic thoughts and emotions.
  • Access your innate resilence, intelligence and intuition.
  • Develop authentic self-confidence.

       Antar Mouna is the foundation of yoga psychology and yoga therapy.  Mindfulness is scientifically recognized as a psychological intervention for stress, anxiety and various mental illness.

       Antar Mouna is a technique that empowers you to attain enlightenment by showing you how to disentangle yourself from an overactive mind.  The practice leads to an enlightening experience of deep inner silence and self-awareness.

      Swami Satyananda Saraswati of the Bihar School of Yoga, India, created 6 stages to Antar Mouna.  It is essential to master these stages prior to the more advanced and demanding stages.

Antar mouna Stage 1:

Teaches you to become aware of sensations in order to deeply relax the mind and to go within yourself without sleeping.

Antar Mouna Stage 2:

Teaches you to remain self-aware while passively observing the mind.  This allows you to remain relaxed when disturbing thought and emotion arises from the subconscious mind or while facing challenging situations.

What is Antar Mouna - Inner Silence?

       The Sanskrit word mouna means 'silence', and antar means 'inner'.  Therefore, the English name of this practice is "inner silence" and it is a great sadhana designed to make the aspirant aware of their inner silence as well as the inner noise which generally prevents one from knowing the silence.

       In our daily life our minds are almost continually externalized.  We see and hear only what is going on outside of us, and we have little understanding of the events  taking  place in our inner environment.  The practice of antar mouna is designed to turn this around, so that for at least a short period we can see the workings of our mind and understand them.  In reality antar mounta is one of the few "permanent sadhanas" which can be practised spontaneously all the twenty-four hours of the day by anyone who is really determined to know oneself.  By maintaining awareness of one's internal environment, thoughts, emotional reactions, etc., one can speed up one's personal evolution to the utmost degree.  It will make one understand the workings of one's own rational and irrational mind, as well as giving one an understanding of what make other people tick.

       The technique for the meditational practice of antar mouna is the first step toward attaining this permanent state of inner understanding.  Although it is to be practised for a maximum of one hour a day, its effect carry on after the practice is over and one will automatically start to know his own 'hidden side' and to see how he is reacting to life's situations in the clear and honest manner.

Stages of antar mouna

       The practice of antar mouna is sub-divided into number of stages.  The first stage of the technique is to be aware of all the outside sounds and occurrences that are going on around you.  The second stage is to withdraw oneself from all outside stimuli and to be aware only of the workings of the mind: what it is thinking, how it is reacting and what images are coming from the subconscious.  The third stage is the conscious creation for thoughts, which is followed in stage 4 by awareness and dissolution of spontaneous thoughts.  Stage 5, the last practicable stage, it is the suppression or removal of all thoughts, or the awareness of shoonya (the void), followed in stage 6 by the state of spontaneous meditation.

       Antar mouna is a complete training system for the awareness process; it teaches one how to know the processes of the mind and ways in which one can bring them under control.  It can e practised at any time by simply reflecting on the question, "What am I thinking?  What is occurring now in my mental sphere?"  When practised many times daily, this witnessing process becomes an automatic occurrence continuing by itself and showing you who you are, what you are doing here and where you are going.  It can truly be said that in this practice through the awareness of inner noise you will come to know the voice of silence, the golden sound that sings of eternity.

Antar Mouna - Inner Silence - Guided Meditation Techniques

Stage I:  Awareness of external stimuli.

The practice of antar mouna begins.
Please close your eyes and keep them closed throughout.
The asana is steady, the position is steady, the eyes are closed, the spinal cord is erect.
"I am prepared for inner silence" - this should be the mood of the mind.

Preliminary practice is not awareness of internal things, but awareness of external sensual experiences, different sounds, different sensations, different sensual experiences.

Concentrate on the external sounds and sensations, not at all considering them to be disturbances in concentration.  

With absolute concentration, with total external awareness do this practice until you find a change of atmosphere in your mind.

Don't fight with your senses, do not struggle with your sense expressions and sense experiences but become aware or become a spectator of them.

You should be aware.

You should also awaken the awareness of 'I am aware, I am hearing, I am aware that I am hearing Swamiji speaking'.

In this way the mind and the senses should be trained to become undisturbed by the sensual experiences. 
Neither the sound nor the taste nor the touch or anything else should disturb you at any cost.

Inspire of the fact that you hear the outer sounds or that you experience different sensations in your physical body, such as itching, laziness, scratching and so on, you should not be disturbed by them.  This particular aspect of sadhana is known as pratyahara, the fifth step of raja yoga.

Pratyahara means withdrawal of the senses, as hinted by Lord Krishna in the second chapter of Gita.

"Even as the tortoise withdraws its body within the framework of the shell, in the same manner the senses should be withdrawn."

Not by force but by a technique the senses should be withdrawn from the respective objects of the senses.

The senses should be calmed down by the drashta or sakshi attitude.

The senses should be calmed down by the attitude of "I am witnessing the experience of hearing and I am aware of the sound, the music of birds."
'I' is the third thing in this process.  

First is the ears, second is the object of experience, the sound, the music of the birds, and third is I, who is the spectator, who is the witness of this process of sense experiences.

Then in this way you should distinctly and deeply and intensely, with classification, develop this threefold awareness in the first stage of antar mouna.

The experiencer, the object of the experience and the seer of both.

The subject and the object, the ears and the sound, the eyes and the form, the skin and the touch, the tongue and the taste, the nose and the smell.

This should be witnessed properly, without any sense of disturbance.

This is the introversion of your sense experiences  and this you should do at any time, not at all hating the outer experiences, but looking at them with drasta bhava, with the attitude of a witness.

You will find within a few moments there is an atmosphere of calm, tranquility and peace, and then you will be ready for meditation.

This is for your homework for today.

Please practice it at home, at night, in the evening or in the day time; in the car or in the rickshaw; wherever you are, amidst your friends or alone.

Do not wait for calmness and silence.

There will be noise, there will be disturbances, the body will shake but you must develop the dharma of the calm and silent witness.

Stage 2:  Awareness of spontaneous thought process

The second stage of antar mouna consists of becoming aware of your thinking process.

You should become aware of thoughts, the spontaneous thought process, thoughts that come and go of their own accord.

You don't have to bring in a thought flow.

Let it come spontaneously and let it go of its own accord.
You must remain a silent witness of every thought that is going through your mind.

When you become aware of a particular thought you will have to say to your mind, 'Yes, I am thinking about this and that.'

If the mind supposedly become free of thought you should try to become aware of that state also.

There can come a stage of thoughtlessness even in the case of a beginner.

You are looking at the process of your thoughts and you are bound to be sure of the thoughts that are passing through.

You should remain alert all throughout, and the form of this is not to check the thoughts but to know the thoughts.

If sometimes you become absent minded and then you revive your consciousness, say to yourself,
'Well, I became absent minded for sometime and during those moments I was thinking of this and that.'

But please try to be aware of all thoughts that are spontaneously coming up, that are manifesting on your conscious plane.

They may be good thoughts, or they may be bad thoughts, but those thoughts do not come from anywhere outside.

They are expressions of your inner personality, they are expressions of yourself.

In the first kriya, in the first practice, the sense experiences came from outside.

Here, in this kriya the thoughts are manifestations or expressions of your inner self.

So therefore when you are able to see your own thoughts, you are able to know the content of your personality.

If bad thought do not come to your conscious mind continually, it mean that either you have become a liberated sage or only that the suppression is still there and the said suppression is too tight, the suppressions of the subconscious mind are not released.

Therefore, remember that you are an aspirant.

Remember you are a practitioner of dharana.

Remember you are a practitioner of pratyahara.

Bad thoughts and good thoughts will come.

They should come and you must bring them up.

If they come, please look at them differently, with absolute detachment, as a witness or as a spectator.

This is the second stage of antar mouna.

It is the practice of pratyahara in Raja Yoga.

The first step in Raja Yoga, is yama, then niyama, then asana, then pranayama and then comes pratyahara.

Pratyahara means return, pratyahara means retreat, pratyahara means withdrawal.

Please listen with absolute attention.

When bad thoughts come to your mind, do not stop them; immediately become alert, become aware that you are thinking of murder, of revenge, of robbery and so on.

If bad thoughts come to you and you set them aside, if you don't want to observe them, if you suppress them, they will come to you with greater force next time.

Stage 2:  Awareness of spontaneous thought process [Short Practice]

Sit or die down comfortably.

Don't create any mental inhibition, don't withdraw your mind.

Don't hate any experience, don't love any experience, don't react to any experience.

Don't react to any desirable experience, thought or feeling.

Let the sense capacities flow in freedom.

Don't withdraw the mind from disturbances, but follow the disturbances of thought, sound or any kind of disturbance.

Thoughts are stimulated and spontaneous from the depth of your mind. 

Thoughts without stimuli, or thoughts with stimuli from outside sounds.

Listen to any disturbing sound and follow it with awareness and concentration.

Follow every thought as a witness, as if you are looking from one corner of your brain.

'I am thinking... I am listening.... I am having this sensation.'

Keep on listening, seeing, witnessing the process of your concentration.

You will find thoughts coming-up, unstimulated, unagitated, from the very depth of your past. 

Meaningless, insignificant thoughts, in the form of a glimpse or in the twinkling of an eye.

Unless you are a careful witness, it will not be possible for you to follow the swift speed of your consciousness.

You will follow the free flow of your consciousness.

Spontaneous, desirable, undesirable.

Sometimes there is a mental block and no thoughts come.

It means that consciousness is not manifesting itself.

The mind goes on thinking.

Even now you are thinking, although you do not see it.

There is a veil put over the thought process.

Tear it off and find thought after thought.

They belong to past, present, different associations, like lightning.  

When a thought comes, see it and register it in your mind.

Many thoughts you don't want to remember, you want to escape from.

This is natural.

To escape from the thought is our psychological nature.
Memory or past; everything is suppressed.

If the veil is removed, it can manifest itself, and when it works in freedom there is joy and happiness.

If the past expresses itself while you are practising detached witnessing, you become free from agony and other reactions.

Most important is to see yourself.

One - allow freedom.
Two - see yourself.

The whole process of manifesting, of course.

Don't oppose any thought, don't hesitate, don't suffer from any thought of guilt.

Free thinking but vigilant seeing.

You are no the thought, but you are the witness of the thought.  Absolute detachment.

Don't associate yourself with any thought, keep yourself separate, as a seer of thoughts, as a beholder of experiences.

You are not the thought, you are not the energy of your consciousness  you do not hate any thought, you do not love any thought, you do not like any thought, and you do not dislike any thought, but allow them to manifest.

You do not see yourself thinking.

It is difficult to see yourself thinking

It is easy to think unconsciously; it is difficult to think consciously.

The thinking process is spontaneous.

Sometimes the process is stimulated by external influences.

Spontaneous thoughts come from the very depth of your personality.  

Withdraw the curtain of inhibition, then the thoughts come spontaneously.

But if they don't come spontaneously, then we shall stimulate the thinking process.

When the consciousness manifests itself freely, when the curtains of the inhibitions are fully or partially withdrawn, then first the horrible thoughts will come.

Good thoughts will come later.

If they come in the beginning, they come on account of your social behaviour or environment, because you have been taught to be good, merciful, etc., but this is not a true manifestation of your consciousness.

That is the negative face of your consciousness, your personality, your past; it has to come out and if not in thoughts, then it comes out in actions.

Don't be shy or tense; remain as a witness of the whole process.

Don't identify yourself with any thoughts, remain a witness, apart.

It may be the feeling of sleep, or drowsiness, any thought from outside, or the thought of this sound.

Always say, 'I am a witness of what I hear, of thoughts passing in my mind, feelings of whatever, or the thought of the practice.'

Be a witness of any thought, of any silly thought.

Constant awareness of anything happening in and outside you, in your consciousness or in your subconsciousness.

In you the the witnessing consciousness, in you the ever alert consciousness of witnessing thoughts.

The more you come to that inner consciousness, the more you become that beholding.

If you are able to awaken the inner consciousness in the form of a witness, then nothing in your mind will go unnoticed.

Even the flickering of your eye or scratching of the body, or the slightest thought, everything will be noticed by you.

If you will be able to keep your inner consciousness alert, then no phenomena concerning you will go unnoticed.

No thought, no feeling; consciousness  unconsciousness and subconsciousness will be unfolded to you; your whole consciousness will be unfolded to you.

The most important things are to keep the inner consciousness constant, and that you yourself should manifest thoughts, feelings, senses and processes.

The inner consciousness must be constantly vigilant, should watch peace, agitation, disturbance, desirable and undesirable thoughts.

You must behold all feelings, all thoughts, all dimensions of consciousness.

Anything your mind can comprehend, your inner consciousness must be constant beholder of that.

And if the thoughts stop in a mental block - nothing comes, then you must behold that nothing is coming.

Any painful situation which might come up, witness it.

Register constantly what you see, hear, know, feel, "I know, I feel, I hear, I see', and so on.

This will be a truly wonderful experience of self-purification, self-witnessing and self-analysis, free mind and alert consciousness.

Go on thinking and beholding, open the door of your thoughts, open your subconscious mind, go on seeing it.

Now withdraw your mind from freedom because the practice of antar mouna is over.

Source: Excerpts from the book on Meditations from the Tantras by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Bihar School of Yoga.

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