The Key to Success in Life's Endeavours
1.1 What is Yoga
Yoga’s goal of spiritual enlightenment is derived from its philosophy which holds that the soul
is the immortal
being of all people. This soul is bound to cycles of incarnations on Earth for the purpose of progressively advancing its spiritual evolution
. The soul’s spiritual evolution on Earth culminates in the experiences of God Realization; after which it can gain liberation from reincarnation
Yoga practices express yoga philosophy and provides a system to enhance the spiritual evolution of the soul to the point of God Realization (samadhi). A cardinal element in the yoga system of spiritual growth is the development of the ability to concentrate the mind.
The entirety of yogic practice is contained in ashtanga yoga
. All yoga systems and techniques, past and present, evolved out of ashtanga yoga
. Ashtanga yoga
was first codified by Sage Patanjali
in the Yoga Sutras more than 2,000 years ago. Ashtanga yoga
which is universal in its approach is a mystical science for God Realization. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras
eventually became a foundation for the formation of many sects of Hinduism
, Buddhism and Jainism. Ashtanga yoga’s
inclusive nature lends itself very well for the formation of any mystical technique, system or even culture that has as its goal the experience of God Realization. Therefore, the practice of yoga does not require allegiance, loyalty or belief in a particular preceptor, tenant nor creed; but for the desire to want to advance oneself spiritually and commitment in training with a yoga guru.
1.1.1 The Contents of This Seminar
Ashtanga means eight limbs or eight parts. The eight parts of ashtanga yoga are: 1. Yama; 2. Niyama; 3. Asana; 4. Pranayama; 5. Pratyahara; 6. Dharana; 7. Dhyana; and 8.Samadhi.
By the end of Yogic Self-Development series of six seminar all the eight limbs of ashtanga yoga will be revealed. For this seminar, we are going to focus on 3 parts of ashtanga yoga that are the foundations for developing effective concentration; they are asana, pranayama
are the yoga poses of hatha yoga
. Hatha yoga
are physical exercises that harmonizes the physical body with its spiritual energies. When done correctly hatha yoga
is able to remove stress, lethargy and depression from the mind. It is also a form of physical exercise for the body to keep it fit and healthy. All hatha yoga
exercises are synced with breath modulation techniques and sometimes colour visualization to bring about amazing mystical and health benefits for the body and mind, including enhancement of concentration.
In this seminar, we will learn 6 hatha yoga poses:
Pavanasana, siddhasana, janu sirshasana, paschimotanasana, sarvangasana and sarvaasana.
are breathe modulation techniques that can enhance concentration greatly and effect moods of the mind and body positively. Pranayama
can focus the mind into deep states of concentration. There are hundreds of pranayama
techniques that create all sorts of effects from increasing the bodies pranic
heat to stimulating the kundalini
force. In and of itself, pranayama
is a very potent practice.
For the purposes of this seminar on concentration we are going to learn two basic, nevertheless potent breath modulations.
The 2 pranayama techniques:
Yogasana pranayama and nadi suddhi.
are techniques that concentrate the subconscious mind into a singular focus. This step is required for achieving deeper states of concentration and meditation; or for deep subconscious manipulation. Like pranayama
there are many varied techniques of pratyahara
to achieve concentration of the subconscious. These techniques include japa yoga
, colour meditation
techniques aim to transmute the physical energies of the body and pranic
energy of the mind into a point of focus within a deeper area of the subconscious to prepare for access into the spiritual consciousness of the soul or to work with the subconscious to mould ones future using latent and powerful abilities of the subconscious such as the law of attraction.
The choice pratyahara technique we will use in this seminar is affirmation.
1 pratyahara technique:
Before we delve into the intricacies of the concentration technique of this seminar it is helpful to understand the yogic perspectives on our mind and concentration.
1.1.2 The Basics of Yoga Psychology
Yoga is a holistic science. Thus the yogic perspective of the mind is divided into physical and spiritual components. The physical component of the mind consists of the conscious mind and part of the subconscious mind; while the spiritual component consists of a deeper area of the subconscious mind and the superconscious mind.
The Conscious Mind (Jagrat)
The conscious mind constitutes the entire physical body, not just the brain. The brain and the rest of the body are the receptors of the conscious mind for sensing our physical surroundings. The conscious mind is governed by the five senses of sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste. According to Patanjali's teachings the conscious mind is the smallest part of our mind. My guru
often said allegorically that the conscious mind is only 10% of the entire mind.
The Subconscious Mind (Svapna)
The subconscious mind is the storehouse of our memories and personality. In its entirety the subconscious mind is much bigger than the conscious mind, constituting about 40% of our mind; and it can be divided into two areas. All impulses that pass through the conscious mind gets stored in the subconscious mind as memory. This includes our reactions and responses to incidents in our life; and conclusions we develop from our experiences. This is the functioning of the external subconscious mind
. There is a deeper, more spiritual part to the subconscious. This is the place where our traits and tendencies are stored. This part of the subconscious forms our personality. If we likened our mind to a computer, then the system and applications that provides for the computer’s functions and usability correlates to this deeper area of the subconscious. (The keyboard, mouse, monitor and all other input and output devices are the conscious mind, while our documents, files and folders are the external subconscious). My guru coined the term ‘sub of the subconscious mind
’ to name this area of the subconscious. The sub of the subconscious develops as a consequence of life experiences. It is a more subtle part of our subconscious mind and is more difficult to access and tinker with compared to the conscious mind and the external subconscious mind that holds raw memory. The yogic concentration technique of this seminar is intended to prepare us to access this deeper area of our subconscious so we can work with its latent and powerful abilities.
The Superconscious Mind (Turiya)
The deepest layer of our mind, where lies our ultimate unity with The Divine is the superconscious mind
–the most spiritual part of ourself. The superconscious mind has many names such as the mind of the soul, the mind of light, cosmic consciousness, etc. In the analogy of the computer, the superconscious mind consists of the electricity that runs the computer, the architecture of the microchip and the language that the system and applications are written in. This is the part of the mind that links us to God's presence within our consciousness. It is the source of inspiration, ideals, intuition, willpower, intelligent courage
and wonderful mystical experiences. It is in here that the goals of God Realization and enlightenment are uncovered. The superconscious is the most vast component of our mind; in my guru’s scale of the mind it consists of 50% of the mind’s entirety.
1.2 Concentration the Key To Success
A dictionary definition of concentration is "the action or power of focusing one's attention or mental effort." In other words concentration is the ability to keep ones awareness on one subject, task or pursuit. The opposite of concentration is distraction, where ones attention or mental effort is spilt into various unrelated subjects, tasks or pursuits simultaneously. According to yoga philosophy if we keep our mind focused on one subject, keeping at bay distractions and not giving up, we will naturally and eventually meet our goals. Whereas a distracted mind makes for exasperating mental effort and inefficient use of time and resources towards meeting goals. Thus yoga deems concentration as the foundation for success. Meeting goals is the easiest way to identify success. Generally society recognizes that the more personal, social, academic and professional goals one achieves the more successful one is. Therefore the greater ones ability at concentration is, the higher the rate of success.
On the surface concentration seems elementary. Everybody is expected to posses it and attaining concentration is expected to be natural. Thus there is no subject in school called concentration nor do parents teach concentration to their children. However we do recognize that people have varying degrees of concentration capabilities and why this is so often understood as an inherent ability or attributed to genetics.
One of the biggest value of yoga, since yogic practices are primarily dedicated to enhancing to powers of concentration of the yogi, is that yoga recognizes that concentration can be developed and improved. Yoga also recognizes the potency of the power of concentration from a spiritual perspective; for according to yoga philosophy concentration enables one to unlock latent spiritual powers of the mind (these powers originate from the superconscious mind) which enhances ones aspirations with inspiration, ingenuity, creativity and confidence.
From the yogic perspective there are three levels of concentration. These levels involve progressively more intense focusing of different faculties of the mind. Thus mastering each level is also progressively more challenging. The three levels, listed from the most basic to the most intense, are as follows:
1. Conscious Concentration - Sakshin
2. Subconscious Concentration - Pratyahara
3. Super Concentration - Dharana
or subconscious concentration is the main subject of this seminar. Dharana
, super concentration, is the main subject of the proceeding seminars on willpower.
1.2.1 Conscious Concentration
We have all developed concentration to some extent. We begin as early as learning how to walk when we were toddlers. It takes a lot of concentration to focus the coordination of our muscles to begin to walk though much of this concentration occurs at an unconscious level. It is when we begin to talk and study language; when we learn to organize our thoughts logically, that we start to develop conscious concentration. Thus communication skills can indicate ones concentration abilities. In general people with good communication skills have good concentration skills. Thus one of the keys to developing conscious concentration is the study and proficiency in the use of language. This of course, applies to any language.
Conscious concentration which uses intention to maintain the focus of the mind can also be enhanced mechanically. Such exercises involve keeping awareness on a subject or task for a set duration of time. The duration of time is increased with practice. The natural challenge will be keeping distractions at bay for the time period. A simple exercise to develop conscious concentration goes as follows.
Choose a small object that can be made a subject for concentration. Preferably is should be an object that naturally draws your interest; it could be a flower, a toy car, a utensil etc. Set at a duration for this conscious concentration exercise. A good start is between 2 and 10 minutes. It will be helpful to set an alarm for the duration so you don't need to be distracted by keeping time. Then sit in a quiet place and put the object in front of you and gaze at it. For the set duration of the exercise stay focused on the object of concentration. You may close your eyes and occasionally open just to gaze at the subject or keep your eyes open with your gaze focused on the subject (no need to stare, you can blink as you please!). For the exercise duration the mind is only permitted four activities, they are:
1. Looking at the object - you may also hold and feel the object.
2. Having thoughts that directly relate to the object–such as the structure or origins of the object, taking care not to be distracted from the relationship to the object as thoughts evolve.
3. Writing down the thoughts you are having.
4. Visualizing the object.
The challenge of this exercise is to avoid being distracted from the subject of concentration for the duration of the exercise; its goal is to gradually increase the duration of the exercise to more than 15 minutes.
If you get distracted, then stop the exercise and take note of the time immediately. Lets say that on your first attempt you were distracted after 3 minutes. Then the next attempt you should set your goal for 4 minutes. You may change your subject of concentration after even one session but do not change your subject while a session is in progress. It is good to do this practice at least once a day, twice is optimum. Move your duration for concentration up by one minute increments every time you are successful. The ultimate goal should be more than 15 minutes of unbroken conscious concentration. When you reach your ultimate goal, you should observe enhanced ability for conscious concentration.
A few rules to observe when doing this exercise:
• Do not attempt this practice if you are sleepy or if you feel exhausted.
• Do not attempt right after eating a heavy meal or after taking intoxicants. Allow at least an hour after a heavy meal, one half hour after a light meal.
• Avoid this practice if you have a headache or fever. Forcibly focusing the mind for conscious concentration can in some cases aggravate headaches or migraines. It is alright to do this practice after taking pain or fever relief medicine.
• If you are emotionally disturbed, settle the matter first before doing this concentration exercise.
• Do not allow your mind to go blank during this exercise. The mind must be constantly engaged in creating thoughts, visualizing or even feeling the subject of concentration.
While conscious concentration is a good ability to master, it has little effect on ones ability to concentrate the subconscious. However when the subconscious mind is concentrated, conscious concentration is an automatic and effortless byproduct. It is not necessary to master conscious concentration to be able to concentrate the subconscious.
This interesting dynamics of how the different levels of concentration works is caused by the functioning of the two different areas of the mind. The conscious mind does not effect the subconscious. All the conscious mind does is to pass along impressions from experiences into the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind however effects the conscious mind as it directs how we react to situations in life. Thus when the subconscious is concentrated the conscious mind follows.
The steps to concentrate the subconscious are more complicated than conscious concentration because one has to gain access into the sub of the subconscious mind first to initiate subconscious concentration.
1.2.2 Subconscious Concentration
Subconscious concentration is a deeper and more potent level of concentration compared to conscious concentration. As the word subconscious suggests, it is the foundation of the conscious mind. The subconscious mind governs our memory, intellectual abilities and personality. In the analogy given earlier, where the mind is likened to a computer, the subconscious mind holds the system that runs this computer and organizes memory in its hard drive. Thus our subconscious mind interprets what we see, feel, touch, smell, hear and determines how we react to these stimulus.
The conscious mind is a go-between to the physical world for the subconscious, while the subconscious has the potential to be a intermediary to the physical world for our soul or for the aspiration of our ideals. The reason I use the word 'has the potential' is because, in order for the subconscious to be this intermediary, it has to be programmed in such a way. Programming of the subconscious is goal of subconscious concentration. Subconscious concentration involves more than just keeping awareness focused on one subject, which is the case in conscious concentration. Before we get into the process of subconscious concentration it is important to understand the key role that the subconscious plays in shaping our lives.
The subconscious mind is a powerful area of the mind that does more than determining how we react to situations around us. Through the sub of the subconscious mind which holds much of the make-up of who we are, it can also 'create' situations in our life. Here are some examples to explain this ability of the subconscious:
Some people seem to be magnets for success. Any endeavor they get into becomes successful. It is not that success comes easy to them, they do work for it and when we meet such people they impress us with their beaming confidence. We get the perception from them that no matter how difficult the challenge, success seems effortless. This is explained as a function of their sub of the subconscious mind. One can say that they are programmed for success.
• Some people seem more lucky than others. They always seem to be winning lucky draws, prizes and simply have the knack of being in the right place at the right time. Again, a sub of the subconscious trait for winning causes this.
• While the above two are positive potentials that arise from the sub of the subconscious, it also can carry a dark side. Phobias are among them. Some people are mysteriously afraid of certain situations. They may or may not know the reason for it, but their reactions to the situation are so extreme that it is seems unreasonable to someone who does not have the phobia. These extreme reactions caused by phobias are negative functions of the sub of the subconscious.
• Just as a person can be a magnet for success because of the sub of the subconscious, the opposite trait can cause a person to be a magnet for failure.
According to yoga philosophy, the sub of the subconscious mind holds the seeds of karma
. This means that some of the traits that we carry in the subconscious are inherited from karmas
from our past life. They appear naturally to us as inborn traits, tendencies, preferences and phobias as a result of the manifestation of those karma
. However not all the contents of the sub of the subconscious originate from past karmas
The sub of the subconscious can create new tendencies, traits, preferences or phobias based on conclusions that are derived from highly impressionable experiences in the current life. The newer conclusions can even negate or override older (or original) ones, making the latter obsolete and dormant in their effects. This ability is of great value to yogis because it means that much of life, of who we are, can be transformed by working directly with the sub of the subconscious mind. Thus the subconscious, relative to our life, is a very powerful area of the mind and having the ability to work with the sub of the subconscious mind puts that power in our hands.
This means that negative and cumbersome traits or phobias one might have are not permanent. They can be removed or replaced with more positive and desirable ones. I can tell you confidently from my personal experience that through the practice of yoga one can gain the power of transforming oneself from the inside out. I learned that the subconscious mind which is such an intimate part of who we are is within our reach. Through this reach we can learn techniques of mastery over our living tendencies and personality by working with the contents in our sub of the subconscious, keeping the traits we want and throwing away the traits that we don't want. This is what subconscious concentration is all about.
The effectiveness of the subconscious concentration lies in the ability to access and work with the sub of the subconscious mind. Subconscious concentration is much more challenging compared to conscious concentration because of this since access to the sub of the subconscious is not as natural as accessing the conscious mind or memory. The extra steps required in subconscious concentration techniques is devised to give us access to the sub of the subconscious before subconscious concentration can commence.
Ultimately the goal of subconscious concentration is to positively reprogram the subconscious–that is to insert a new positive program within the sub of the subconscious so that it will automatically effect changes within ourselves and also in the situations around us.
1.3 How to Concentrate the Subconscious
The traits, tendencies, preferences and phobias that form our personality are stored in the sub of the subconscious mind, according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras
, in the form of spiritual potentials known as vasanas
can react with stimulus from all sorts of spiritual (unconscious) and physical (conscious) sources and reflect their existence through our personality, habit, behaviour and even through the situations we attract to ourselves or situations we are attracted to. They can colour our perception, create moods, direct reactions, be the basis of opinions and so much more, thus animate our lifestyle, the choices we make and the situations we get ourselves involved with. By the complexity of our individual personalities alone it is obvious that we all carry all sorts of vasanas
; some are positive, some negative and some a mix of the two.
Vasanas, being in the sub of the subconscious mind and by this virtue close to the powerful superconscious mind can draw on the potent spiritual energies of the superconscious, when the circumstances are right, to super-charge our thoughts, moods and emotions. Thus charged these thoughts, moods and emotions can in turn attract complementing situations to materially manifest in our life.
The goal of subconscious concentration is to exploit this natural function of the sub of the subconscious by inserting a preconceived vasana into it. Once this vasana is sufficiently impressed in the sub of the subconscious mind it will then begin to work automatically to draw the situation coded into the vasana. This is the great potential that subconscious concentration has to enhance ones life.
You may be familiar with this function of the mind as The Law of Attraction. Generally most of the contemporary guides on the Law of Attraction put it simply that if you believe in something long enough or repeat a statement of intent constantly then what you want will come to you. However if it doesn't work for you then what? Is there a solution or is it that the Law of Attraction works for some people and not for others, and if so why?
According to yoga philosophy the Law of Attraction will work for anyone if the vibrations of intent (vasanas) are placed in the sub of the subconscious mind where the 'magic' can happen. To do this requires more than repeating a statement over and over again for as many times as possible. In fact if you know how to access the sub of the subconscious to place preconceived vasanas in, then the effort is so much more efficient.
I learnt about the Law of Attraction, though we did not call it this then when I started my yoga training under my guru in the mid 1980's. He taught it as the ‘power of affirmations’. It was in training with him that I learned that the mind is a tool we can use to shape our future in ways beyond the obvious. Affirmations was a daily part of living in the monastery. We learned to start every important project, be it spiritual or material by first creating an affirmation to sum up its intents and goals clearly. These affirmations were the basis of the preconceived vasana that was then placed in the sub of the subconscious using a prescribed yogic method. This method is divided into three basic steps as follows.
The three steps of subconscious concentration:
1. Calming and de-stressing the mind with hatha yoga exercises.
2. Filling the mind with sufficient energy (prana) to allow impressions to penetrate and embed into the sub of the subconscious through pranayama exercises.
3. Infusing impressions into the sub of the subconscious in pratyahara using affirmations.
Subconscious Concentration Steps
1.3.1 Step One: Hatha Yoga
In this seminar we will learn six hatha yoga asanas (poses). They are pavanasana (hyperventilation pose), siddhasana (master's pose), janu sirshasana (horizontal back bend-partial), paschimotanasana (horizontal back bend-full), sarvangasana (shoulder stand), and sarvaasana (relaxation pose).
Hatha yoga is an essential element of this subconscious concentration technique because it calms the conscious and subconscious mind and clears them very effectively of emotional disturbances. Clarity in the conscious and subconscious is crucial for access into the sub of the subconscious.
When doing these hatha yoga poses try to breathe diaphragmatically. Diaphragmatic breathing or yogasana pranayama is a basic yogic breathing technique. Try your best to breathe diaphragmatically. If it is difficult to do initially, you can fall back to your normal breathing. Eventually you will get the hang of it. For Step One of Subconscious Concentration, the breath should be inhaled and exhaled deeply and slowly at an even and relaxed pace.
Yogasana Pranayama - Diaphragmatic Breathing
Essentially diaphragmatic breathing is the way a baby breathes. In this way of breathing during inhalation the abdomen raises (because the diaphragm contracts and distends from the chest cavity) and in exhalation, the abdomen falls in toward the spine (because the diaphragm relaxes and extents into the chest cavity). There is very little, if any, movement of the ribs and chest when breathing diaphragmatically. To help visualize this breathing technique imagine your abdomen (the cavity of the stomach and intestines) is a balloon. As you breathe in, imagine the abdomen behaving like an inflating balloon expanding. As you breathe out imagine the abdomen contracting like a balloon with the air released from it. View the video tutorial below.
Following are the descriptions of the hatha yoga poses to be done in sequence as part of this subconscious concentration technique.
Pavanasana is a breathing pose for vitalizing the body and mind with oxygen. The asana is done as in the pictorial below.
Clasp both hands together against your back. Then breathe in deeply until your lungs are full. When you breathe in, raise your ribs and push out your stomach so your lungs become completely filled with air. Breathe in as much air as you possibly can, to the point that you cannot force in more air. Hold your breathe for about 5 seconds and then exhale completely. Breathe in and out at normal pace, not too slow or too fast. Do this position for 6 breaths, then switch the hand positions.
If your hands cannot reach to a clasp like in this close up picture, you can use a piece of cloth or towel to assist when doing pavanasana. Pull the cloth so it is taut.
Pavanasana invigorates the body and makes the mind alert. It also helps drain the sinuses and keeps the lungs healthy. If you are feeling lethargic, dull or sleepy do pavanasana and you will feel alert instantly with a boost of energy.
Avoid doing pavanasana in a place where the air is polluted with smoke or noxious gases.
Siddhasana comprises of the next three poses that are done in succession. Siddhasana calms the mind, stimulates the physical and spiritual energies into harmony. It helps relieve stress from worry and anxiety, making this hatha yoga set important to subconscious concentration. It also improves hip and leg flexibility.
Note: The background colours in the screen shots of all the asanas below are the colours to visualize as you do these sets of asanas.
Janu Sirshasana and Paschimotanasana
This set of asanas also contains three poses. See the video tutorial below for more infromation about this asana and instructions on how to do them.
Sarvangasana and Sarvaasana
This is the final set of asanas to do for this subconscious concentration technique. Remember, that as you do these asanas take deep breaths and exhale completely. Shallow breathing will reduce the effectiveness of these asanas. If you can manage it breathe diaphragmatically as taught earlier in this tutorial.
Note: In the video tutorial above, there are three asanas. Sarvangasana, halasana and sarvaasana. The second one, halasana is not required for subconscious concentration.
Having done these six hatha yoga poses completes the first step of subconscious concentration. The next step is a pranayama–a breath modulation technique. This pranayama can be done simultaneously while lying down in sarvaasana or done after sarvaasana while seated.
1.3.2 Step Two: Pranayama
Pranayama or breath modulation involves different methods of breathing by modifying the pattern or timing of inhalation and exhalation. According to yoga philosophy the patterns of our thoughts and emotions are intricately linked to the patterns of our breathing. If you are aware of it, you will find that your breathing pattern changes as you go through different emotions, especially pronounced and intense emotions. For instance when someone someone is angry their breathing will follow a pattern of paused breaths and spurts of shallow breaths. When someone is peaceful, their breathing pattern is regular, slow and deep. This is the reason for the advise that when angry, take some deep breaths. A minute or so of slow deep breaths will help tempers subside.
There are various pranayamas for many reasons–from changing moods, to improving vitality or stimulating the primordial kundalini force within the body. Many of the pranayamas are done in conjunctions with visualizations or syllabic mantra chants.
The Nadi Suddhi Pranayama
After doing hatha yoga, the mind should be naturally calm and collected. It should be easy to focus the conscious mind. This is the optimum time to gain access into the sub of the subconscious which lies deeper than the subconscious area that stores memories. The most efficient yoga technique for accomplishing this is pranayama. For the purpose of programming the sub of the subconscious the best pranayama is nadi suddhi.
Nadi suddhi is a common pranayama technique used in yoga practices because of its broad scope of application. Nadi pronounced naadi, in Indic languages means nerve channels. It refers to both the spiritual and physical nerve channels of our body that carry electromagnetic and spiritual currents. Suddhi, is the verb for suddha which means pure. So nadi suddhi means nerve channels purifier. Nadi suddhi pranayama is also generally known as alternate breathing. What alternates is the inhalation and exhalation of the breath that switches from right to left nostril and vice-versa.
The effect of nadi suddhi is to focus the mind to a soft point (as opposed to a sharp or intense point), energize the mind with prana (life-force) and harmonize the mind and body to a calm equilibrium.
Nadi Suddhi Instructions:
1. While seated, exhale completely. Use the fingers of your right hand (if you are a lefty, all the instructions here will be opposite for you) and close the left nostril, take in a slow and deep breath from the right nostril. Refer to this pictorial for the traditional yogic way to position your fingers to clasp the nostrils.
2. When you have taken a full breath, close the right nostril, open the left nostril and breath out slowly and completely.
3. Then breathe in slowly and deeply from the left nostril, while the right nostril is still closed.
4. Close the left nostril, open the right nostril and breathe out slowly and completely. This completes one cycle of nadi suddhi.
5. Next, repeat the cycle by breathing in from the right nostril.
Keep your eyes closed when doing this pranayama. Concentrate on your breath. Keep your awareness focused and keep the mind from wondering aimlessly by only thinking about the subject of your affirmation while doing this pranayama.
For subconscious concentration purposes it is optimum do nine cycles of nadi suddhi. You will be able to feel the effects of nadi suddhi after the practice. You will feel very calm, collected and concentrated. If you are sensitive to it, you will feel the sushumna nadi, which is located within your spine's core, get stimulated and energy in the form of prana (life-force) accumulate in the brain.
Pranayama is important for subconscious concentration because it is the key for accessing the sub of the subconscious mind. When the conscious mind and the surface level of the subconscious (memories) are quiet and filled with energy the sub of the subconscious will be naturally accessible to awareness.
Now that you are in the sub of the subconscious mind with a cache of prana
energy generated from the pranayama
, your next step is to use this energy to 'burn' an impression into the sub of the subconscious
of what you want to manifest in your life. This takes us to Step Three.
Additional note on nadi suddhi: Additional note on nadi suddhi: If either or both of your nostrils are blocked you will not be able to do nadi suddhi. In this situation take some remedial measures such as sinus clearing medicines so the sinuses are clear before doing nadi suddhi. Do not do nadi suddhi with blocked nostrils by forcing the breath in or out. It will not bring about the desired effect from this practice. The breathing pattern for nadi suddhi should always be deep, relaxed, unimpeded and comfortable. If you are not able to clear the nostrils as required, then it is best to continue the practice of subconscious concentration at a time when your nostrils are clear. If your sinuses are perpetually a problem and you have no other options, skip the pranayama and go to Step Three, though this is not optimum and should be the very last resort.
1.3.3 Step Three: Pratyahara (Affirmation - Dridhavaak)
Affirmations are essentially statements of intent or goals that one repeats to oneself to aid in the materialization of the intent. Basically if you believe in something strongly enough it will happen or if you constantly think about something it is likely to happen. Affirmations exploits such latent abilities of the subconscious with more pointed focus and direction.
Most of us use the powers of the subconscious mind unconsciously. For instance those who have clear goals and ambitions about their future will constantly impress their conscious and subconscious with their dream to the point that their dream becomes deeply impressed in their sub of the subconscious. Once firmly rooted in this part of the mind the dream will, by order of nature, get fulfilled. In this practice of subconscious concentration, we are using this same natural process for shaping our future. Furthermore by exploiting the understanding of how the mind works provided by yoga philosophy, the subconscious concentration technique of this seminar optimizes the method of doing affirmations to the natural working of the mind, thereby making it the effort efficient and its effects productive.
In many religions affirmations are usually imbedded as prayers. In Hinduism, whose culture is shaped directly by yoga philosophy, affirmations are clearly used in the practice of japa
is the practice of devotionally repeating God's name as a mantra
. This practice is prescribed for both spiritual or material reasons. For instance if a Hindu is seeking wealth, then they do japa
using a name of Goddess Lakshmi or Lord Venkateshwara; if the goal is education, it is Goddess Saraswati or Lord Dakshinamurthi; if it is courage it is Goddess Durga or Lord Rudra. The many images of God or Goddess are culturally programmed in a Hindu to have meanings such as wealth, health, education, courage or spirituality. When the prescribed image of God or Goddess is held in mind in a prayerful mood with constant repetition of the associated mantra
, all the ingredients necessary for subconscious concentration to create an impression in the sub of the subconscious are in place.
In this seminar we are not going to get into Hindu mantras. Instead we are going to learn how to create our own affirmations–our personal mantras if you like–to manifest desired situations in our life by using the same elements as in the practice of japa to place impressions in the sub of the subconscious. The practice of japa has three necessary components, which are:
1. The Prayerful Mood
2. Chanting the Mantra
3. Visualizing the Image of God
The Prayerful Mood
The prayerful mood concentrates the conscious mind by calming emotions, lifting mood and directing thought on God or a prayer. It also focuses the subconscious mind and fills it with prana. In the subconscious concentration method of this seminar we achieve this by doing hatha yoga and pranayama.
Chanting the Mantra
Chanting the mantra repeatedly has two important purposes. First is that the sanskrit mantra syllables are special in that they have mystical significance by adding prana into the mind. Second, its repeated chanting evokes the emotions of confidence and feelings of jubilation, that whatever we want to accomplish will indeed happen. While the japa stimulates these reactions a vasana is being forged in the sub of the subconscious mind. When doing our affirmation practice, since we are not using sanskrit intonations, we use pranayama to fill the mind with prana. The second part of inspiring positive emotions is the function of the language in which our affirmation is composed.
Visualizing the Image of God
When japa is done properly the mind is focused on the meaning of the mantra as it is chanted. As most mantras are the names of God or Goddess, the mind is focused on the image of the deity, either through visualization or by looking at a picture of statue of the deity while chanting the mantra. For a Hindu the image of the deity is subconsciously connected to the purpose of the devotee’s need. Visualizing the deity while a vasana is being forged in the sub of the subconscious optimizes its forging. It is like taking a blowtorch to the vasana so the impression that the japa leaves in the sub of the subconscious is as clear and as deep as it can get. Visualizing is likewise an essential element in the practice of affirmation. However the image of a deity is substituted with the visualization of a desired situation or event.
Differences Between Affirmations and Japa
Japa and affirmations basically use the same process to concentrate the subconscious mind to achieve desired results. However there are fundamental differences in these practices that are useful to know when deciding which of these to use for subconscious concentration.
• The most obvious difference will be that mantras are general, whereas affirmations are very specific. For instance, when we chant the gayatri mantra for education, the impression that goes in the mind is to become generally learned and wise. Whereas with affirmations, we can concentrate the subconscious on specific goals. For instance if a law student wants to obtain her degree with distinction, she will then create an affirmation with this goal incorporated into it. An example of such an affirmations: "I can and I will obtain my law degree with first class honors this year." Affirmations can also be time specific, such as in this case where the goal is to be reached within a year. Basically mantras are used for long term and general goals, whereas affirmations fulfill our short term and specific goals.
• Another obvious difference is language. Subconscious concentration and 'programming' works best when we understand what we are saying. In fact, in affirmations, the choice of words used is very important. Affirmations have to be in the language we are most familiar with. This is the language we think in. Secondly the choice of words have to be words that evoke emotions in us. Because of this, if two people are creating affirmations for the exact same purpose, they will most likely create different affirmations. The affirmations created by one person will probably not have any or much effect for the next person, simply because the choice of words do not stimulate the same feelings as it does for the author. Sanskrit mantras on the other hand are largely not understood by most users. The reason they are still effective is because the language has incorporated into it mystical syllables that can stimulate the necessary emotions in most people. This mystical capability in sanskrit is what makes the language so enduring despite not being used in conversation for centuries. It is also not customary to modify traditional sanskrit mantras to fit one’s personal needs, thus it is not as flexible as affirmations can be.
A Guide To Creating Your Own Affirmations
1. You have to have your goal, what you want to accomplish, clear in your mind. The goal must be specific. For instance if you need wealth, then you should have an exact money figure of what you need. If it is education, it should be a graduation or passing grade of the examination. If it is occupation, then it should be the kind of job or salary value. If it is health, the freedom or recovery from a negative health condition or disease; and so forth.
2. There must be at least two weeks gap from the time an affirmation is started to work its magic, one month is optimum. It will not work if you need to reach your goal tomorrow or in a week. It generally takes nine days of regular practice of an affirmation to firmly impress the sub of the subconscious mind with your goal. Also be practical with the timing of when you plan to reach your goal and the goal itself. Do some research based on others experience or available data on balancing the timing with the goal. If your goal is a very big difference compared to your current standing, you may want to break the goal into smaller more practical steps that can build with time. (More on practical goal setting will be discussed in proceeding seminars of this series on willpower.)
3. The affirmation must be in the language you are most familiar with, that is the language you think in.
4. The affirmation should be easy to memorize or easy to read, as concise yet detailed as possible. It can be in a few sentences, but don't make it too long winded that it is difficult to memorize or if you are reading the affirmation that it is short enough to comfortably repeat a few times. Ideally an affirmation should be contained within 5 to 10 sentences.
5. Choose words that you are familiar with, that evoke emotions and flows smoothly with the rest of your sentence. The words in your sentences should not cause you to fumble or get tongue-tied as you repeat the affirmation over and over. It is not necessary to make your sentences intricate, flowery or poetic, though it is good practice to be grammatically correct to preserve the language.
6. All the words should be positive. For instance use ‘I will be successful’, instead of ‘I won't fail’; ‘I will overcome all challenges’ instead of ‘all difficulties’; ‘I will be victorious’ instead of ‘I will not be defeated’.
7. When setting your goal, use commonsense. Don't set targets that you know in your conscience as impossible to realize in a short span of time. For instance you are just starting out a business. Your initial business projection is to make a net profit of $8,000 a month within six months. You can in your affirmations up this figure to say $12,000 in eight months. When you reach this goal, you can up the profit amount to a more ambitious figure that somewhat challenges the realm of possibility, which you feel is possible. At that point it will be possible because you will have gained enough experience to back a more ambitious goal.
8. Your affirmations should be in line with common ethics. It should not be used to inflict harm onto another, hope for others' destruction or contain any kind of malicious intent.
Example of Affirmations
You are studying to become a doctor:
I will be a medical doctor. I will excel in my M.B.B.S studies with First Class Honours.
You want to excel in history, but you have no interest whatsoever in the subject:
I enjoy reading History. It will easily get distinction for history in my coming examination.
Starting a business:
My business is of great benefit to my community. I will make it grow in profit to earn $8,000 a month in 6 months as I serve my community.
Overcoming a disease:
God has given me a wonderful body. I have all the resources in my body to cure from this disease and be perfectly healthy and be full of life.
Overcoming an addiction:
I am the master of my body, mind and emotions. I will be completely free of smoking in 2 months.
Dealing with a difficult boss:
I will excel in my professional duties. My boss will see me as an important asset of his company and respect me.
Identifying oneself as the soul (atma):
I am the the self-effulgent, immortal body of light within, the soul. I am the master of my body, mind and emotions.
How To Use Affirmations
Once you have created your affirmation, which is the crux of the practice of subconscious concentration, the next step is to use it. You need to know how many times to repeat the affirmation, what you should do while saying the affirmation, how many sessions a day to do an affirmation and for how many days.
The Method of Reciting an Affirmation
Say Out the Affirmation
Affirmations must be vocalized. That means the affirmation shoul be said out and not read silently. You may speak the affirmations to yourself softly. It does not have to be so loud that other people can hear it. The key is that you must say the word to yourself clearly.
Clearly visualize achieving your goal
While you are saying the affirmations you must hold clear visualizations in your mind of seeing yourself achieving your goals. You craft these mental images as you see fit. Lets say you are doing an affirmations to pass an examination with flying colors. In this case you can imagine receiving your result sheet with all distinctions or imagine receiving your scrolls in a ceremony.
Feel your success
While you are saying and visualizing, you must also imagine that you are going through the exhilarating emotions that you would naturally experience when you see your results or achieve your goal. You can also see and feel in your imagination the positive reactions of your family and loved ones.
These three parts of an affirmation are crucial for implanting impressions in the sub of the subconscious mind. The sub of the subconscious only registers impressions if an intention (which is the role of the spoken affirmation), is associated with an event (the role of the visualizations) and accompanying emotions (the role of the stimulated emotions). Without any one of these, the impression may not register in the sub of the subconscious strong enough to take root for future manifestation. However, with these three elements in place, accompanied with the accumulated prana gathered from the pranayama and hatha yoga practice, a strong impression can be planted directly into the sub of the subconscious mind.
Placing an affirmation in the sub of the subconscious mind to develop in the future is very much like planting a seed. To grow a tree, you need to plant a seed give it fertilizer and water. In this analogy, the seed is the affirmation, the visualization is the water and the emotions are the fertilizer. The prana energy that is accumulated in the mind from the pranayama and hatha yoga exercises are like the sunlight and air that the seed needs to grow to be a strong and healthy tree.
So remember when reciting an affirmation: Say It, See It and Feel It.
How many times should I repeat an affirmation in a session?
The number of times you repeat an affirmation is not as important as the quality of its recitation. Generally you can take your time with each repetition. You can say the affirmation, see it and feel it in three separate steps like this:
Say the affirmation first,
then imagine clearly the affirmation happening,
then feel all the emotions you will go through when the event happens.
Repeat the process.
It may take as much as 30 seconds or longer to go through one cycle of this process. My guru usually recommended repeating the affirmation 9 times each session. If your affirmation has long sentences and is not easy to memorize, you may read it. After reading, close your eyes and do the visualizing and emotional simulations. Then when you are ready open your eyes and read the affirmation for the next repetition.
Again remember that the number of times you repeat the affirmations is not crucial. Even if you only have time to do three repetitions, that is fine, so long as all the steps are done conscientiously. It is no point repeating the affirmation 30 times without bothering to visualize or feel the emotions, this is a waste of time.
How many times a day should I do an affirmation session?
Once a day is sufficient. If you do all the three steps of hatha yoga asanas, pranayama and pratyahara a frequency of once a day is enough. One entire session of subconscious concentration lasting between 20 minutes to 30 minutes is good. If you have the time, you may do it for a maximum of three times a day. Do not do more, thinking the more you do the faster you reach your goal–NOT TRUE.
Be careful not to get obsessed with this practice. Time is needed for the seed in the sub of the subconscious mind to sprout and grow. If we go back to the analogy of planting a seed; realize that if you pour too much water and put too much fertilizer you can kill the seed. So it is too with the impression you are planting in the sub of the subconscious mind. You have to plant it, perform your responsibilities as necessary and allow for nature to take its course.
The time of day for doing the affirmation session is also not so crucial, though it is good to maintain a routine time, so it gets done. However if you are not able to stick to the routine, keep the goal of doing the affirmation at least once a day anytime during the day a firm one. Doing the affirmation session first thing as part of your morning routine is one way to get your subconscious concentration done daily. You must be alert when doing the affirmation, not drowsy or sleepy, so freshen up first. You don't need to have a bath first nor do you have to do the affirmation in a particular place such as the shrine room. You can do the subconscious concentration routine anywhere you are comfortable.
It is also important to do the affirmation session when you are not distracted by hunger or thirst. However, do not do it right after eating a heavy meal. Do the affirmation at least one hour after a heavy meal. Drinking water at anytime is fine.
It is pointless to do a session of subconscious concentration after consuming alcohol or other strong stimulants. It is alright to do this practice after taking pain relief medicines, except if they make you drowsy or sleepy.
For how many days should I do the affirmation?
My guru advises, and I can say from personal experience, that an affirmation should be done everyday for nine days to create a strong impression in the sub of the subconscious mind. This means, even if you are looking to achieve your goal within six months of starting the affirmation, you don't need to do the affirmation everyday for six months. Nine days is sufficient. After that you can work on a different affirmation. Occasionally if you feel like you need to do the affirmation again, a three day booster can be done. You just have to feel it out after the nine days. Your own inner wisdom will be your guide on this.
Can I do different affirmations in a day?
It is not recommended to work on more than one affirmation at a time. It will in fact be counter productive as the impressions in the sub of the subconscious can get mixed up and end up with a confused or aimless end result. This is a firm rule. Work on one affirmation for nine days and then move on to the next one. Prioritize your needs and work it into your schedule appropriately.
1.4 Conclusion: How is it that Affirmations Work?
One of the challenges a beginner might face with subconscious concentration techniques such as affirmations is the seeming simplicity of the process compared to what they want to accomplish. For instance a beginner might doubt–how can repeating a statement over and over again effect change in my life, event to the point of moving forces of the world.
To quell this doubt some misconceptions one might have about the ability of the mind must be addressed. The first misconception is that our mind is only a thinking machine that can only passively process thought. The second misconception is that thoughts are imaginations of our mind, which in and of themselves are inanimate and physically nonexistent. These are misconceptions from the yogic point of view because according to yoga philosophy all elements of creation, both physical and spiritual are real. Yoga masters teach that the whole universe is contained within oneself. They explain that perception is the 'real' reality. Without perception we cannot experience the world outside or inside us, and it is the power of perception that shapes reality. The byproduct of perception are thoughts. It is through thoughts that we devise plans and learn to manipulate the world around us. If not for thoughts as the vehicle for intelligence there can be no invention or innovations by humans. It is through the power of perception which transforms to thoughts that we have all the modern conveniences we are used to which allow us to live life on earth as super-intelligent beings instead of simple animals. Thus thoughts are real and have the power to create and shape the world around us.
While it is easy to grasp how thoughts have the ability to shape the world around us, the theory of how affirmations work takes this further by implying that change can also be effected through the 'unconscious' realms of the mind. The sub of the subconscious realm of our mind is an area of the mind that we are rarely if ever, aware of. How then can this area of the mind be even more powerful than thoughts and perception as yoga philosophy suggests? It is because the realm of the 'unconscious' within us is the driver of the very way we perceive and therefore think. As explained earlier, a successful person, has the program of being successful within his or her sub of the subconscious. Because of this program they have a natural and powerful drive to succeed. They are not disheartened by challenges or hiccups in their plans. Failure is not in their vocabulary. They are driven by a feeling that comes from deep within them that keeps the light of success and confidence shinning. This is their real power, and this power goes even beyond their physical and mental abilities and attracts successful situations to them. We normally know this as luck but it actually has nothing to do with luck. Instead it is the innate forces within the subconscious mind obeying the well honed program of success within the person.
Yoga philosophy points out that the potent forces within our subconscious is drawn from the superconscious mind, or the mind of our soul. The ultimate source of this power is the Divine Source of all Creation–the spark of which resides within the core of our soul. In other words the affirmations that we place in our sub of the subconscious draws its ability to manifest the situations in our life from superconsciousness (God if you may). Thus through subconscious concentration we can realize our dreams by utilizing this Life-given powerhouse of a tool within us, our mind, to its fullest potential.
In the proceeding three seminars of this six part series we will be exploring another potent force within us–willpower. In these seminars we will see how subconscious concentration plays an essential part in the development of willpower.
If you have any questions regarding this seminar, or wish to organize this seminar in your locality (for now this is confined to within Malaysia and Singapore), you can email me at:
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