I will never stop being amazed at the depth of yoga's probe into the study of consciousness. Yoga is to the mind, what the telescope is to the eyes. The telescope extends the capacity of our eyes to see distant stars and planets in greater detail. Yoga practices extend the capacity of our mind to "see" a greater human consciousness.
I just completed a three day online yoga practice intensive with a program that I have been studying with for the past several years. It follows a lineage that dates back over a thousand plus years. Through this program I have been practicing Vishoka meditation. Vishoka meditation has been taught over millennia with tweaks by the sages here and there according to the needs of the times. It is a meditation to resource ourselves through the pain and suffering in the world. Vishoka meditation is to bring forth our own inner luminosity and joy.
At first glance Vishoka meditation may look like a bunch of technique driven practices of movement and breathing (- asana, nadi shoddhana, ahrana, samikarana, anuloma,viloma, bastrika, prityaloma, kapalbhati). Over the years I have done these various techniques in my home practice, but I have to admit that often they can become mechanical without allowing the intention, time, and space for the techniques to emerge into an experience. There are many techniques to doing postures and breathing practices. Which technique and in what order makes a big difference in the effect. The intention determines the use and sequence of techniques of the practice. In my home yoga practice intention is often the same as for brushing my teeth - it is good for my health. I often do not have the true intention which is to allow the techniques to lead me into the experience of Yoga - the union of my mind to consciousness of the higher Self.
This weekend I put aside my to-do list, and I allowed myself the space to be guided in practice with the intention of Vishoka (to explore my inner luminosity and joy). With this intention leading the orchestration of preparatory movements and breath pranayamas, my mind got a glimpse of such a profound vibrant stillness.
In this meditation my mind turned inward to the breath and then to the impulse of life force behind the breath. The momentary merging of my mind with this life force, or prana, expands the experience of my usual waking consciousness. This life force that gives me breath and sustains my heartbeat is the same life force that allows trees to grow, planets to orbit, and is behind all of existence. For an instant my mind was nourished by this merging with pranic flow.
The weekend intensive is over and now it is up to me to deepen my home practice with the right intention to apply all the yoga techniques in my toolbox. My biggest challenge is not in the techniques but in whether I can give room for the experience to arise without my mind being distracted by my to-do list. My to-do list is a way I can measure success in my outer world. I guess I do not give expanded consciousness the same status as outer accomplishments. This examination of my intention will be a continued study.