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Advanced Yoga Practices
Main Lessons
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Note: For the Original Internet Lessons with additions, see the AYP Easy Lessons Books. For the Expanded and Interactive Internet Lessons, AYP Online Books, Audiobooks and more, see AYP Plus.

Lesson 219 - Irritability in Activity  (Audio)

AYP Plus Additions:
219.1 - Belly Breathing, Mindfulness and Meditation Sensitivity  (Audio)
219.2 - Delayed Reactions from Practice and When Less is More  (Audio)
219.3 - Overdoing Leading to Illness
  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: Sun Jul 18, 2004 0:10pm

New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"


Q: I have been meditating for many years and have tried many methods. The problem that I have is as follows:

I will do spinal breathing, bastrika and alternate nostril breathing all with proper mudras and bandhas. Then I will do mantra practice as described in your lesson. This is my favorite. When I am done my mind is very clear and calm. Very pleasant. However, while my core of silence is still more or less intact, I find that I am very intolerant and pretty unloving. I think my mind is preferring the inner quiet over the normal irritation that is found at work or at home. This has actually caused conflicts at work. However, I have found that if my meditation is a mindfulness practice based on observation of the rise and fall of the belly with breathing; that the effect is that I am calm and tolerant. I would prefer to do the teachings that you are offering instead of the above mentioned buddhist practice. I think the problem is that when I get too much energy in my head, that I get intolerant. My belly as the focus of the mindfulness practice is a larger and lower focus and the energy accumulated seems to be more generalized and more balanced.

Of course that will never progress to kundalini, etc.

Any suggestions??

A: Thank you for writing and sharing. 

Too much energy running around in the upper centers (from the heart up) is probably a good assessment of why you are having irritability in daily activity. But why? 

There is probably too much practice happening too fast, so you are left with more purification than can be comfortably integrated during activity. Even with long experience in meditation and yoga, anyone can overdo when adding or rearranging practices too often and/or suddenly increasing overall practice times. If there is some inherent sensitivity in the nervous system (as discussed in the last lesson #218), this can compound the discomfort afterward. Inner silence can be there while discomfort is going on. The peacefulness of inner silence (witnessing) is a good thing, of course. In the formative stages of the rise of inner silence there will be a contrast with outer activity, and there can be the impression of conflict between our inner peace and the roughness we may be experiencing on the outside, as you point out. But it is only an impression. There really is no conflict, only the uncomfortable friction of too much energy bubbling to the surface through our nervous system that is not yet purified enough to accommodate the amount of flow coming through. That is not caused by the inner silence or any conflict with it. It is caused by too much energy moving, which is on the shakti side. As you know, inner silence is the shiva side. The solution to this is to regulate practices so our inner energies can be comfortably integrated and balanced in everyday activity. If we take the view that our salvation is to be found in our inner silence alone, and not outside in the ebb and flow of the world, then we will be missing the opportunity for the higher stages of enlightenment. This involves a complete integration of inner silence with the flow of energy in all avenues of life. When this is accomplished through a balanced blend of practices and activity, then we come to know the complete marriage of silent bliss conscousness and ecstatic energy flowing everywhere, and this is liberation in this world. All becomes the One, and that is who we are. 

What then can upset us? Then we will be in the best position to stand firm in the world on the things that are important to us, smiling all the while.

The practice of mindfulness of breath in the belly you mentioned may be bringing some relief, but I don't know how progressive that practice would be over the long term. It has its inherent limitations, as you point out. It could also be causing some "doubling up" of practice time in pranayama and meditation if you are also doing deep meditation and spinal breathing on the same days you are doing the breath awareness practice. Doubling up means more purification from doing similar practices on the same day, which can stimulate excess energy flows inside. It may not be obvious this is being set up while we are doing the practices themselves. 

So, what is the solution? First of all, it is suggested you get a handle on what is doing what, beginning with the core practice of deep meditation. If you have not already, try going back to a simple practice of meditation only for 15-20 minutes twice a day with nothing else added, and see if that brings more stability in daily activity. Make sure you take at least 5 minutes of rest coming out of meditation. Coming out too fast alone can lead to a lot of irritability during the day. If that simple routine is smooth during the day, then you will know that you were doing too much somewhere in your previous routine. Then it becomes a matter of maintaining that stability and, if desired, gradually adding things on one by one, stabilizing each new level of practice in activity before adding more. Keep in mind that with most practices there will be a time delay in energy effects, so it takes a good month or two at least to stabilize any single practice before taking on more will be appropriate.

If 15-20 minutes of meditation alone with good rest coming out still leaves you with irritability during the day, then you will know you are dealing with either a temporary or ongoing sensitivity in your nervous system. Then you can try decreasing the time of meditation (and increase rest afterward) until the daily activity smoothes out. Adding 5-10 minutes of spinal breathing in front of meditation can help stabilize the internal flows. A light set of asanas (5-10 minutes) in front of sitting practices can help stabilize things afterward also. You may have to try several combinations before you find what works for you (lessons #160 & #200 cover this process). Hold off on adding things like mudras, bandhas, siddhasana, kumbhaka, etc. until you find a stable platform of practice that gives you smoothness in daily activity. All those additional practices turn up the heat, you know. Once you know you have a stable platform of practice, then you can add things on one at a time, stabilizing each one before adding the next one. 

I know all this sounds very tedious and time consuming, especially if you are advanced already and wanting to get on with it. But there really isn't any other way to build a stable practice that will give us the ecstatic bliss in activity that we certainly deserve. If we are experiencing instability, we have to go back to a stable level of practice. It can happen with advanced practitioners as often as with beginners. In fact, it is very common for adjustments to be necessary as we move up into the more refined realms of advanced practice and experience. We can be moving along doing just fine, and all of a sudden hit a big release (or a series of them) deep inside that sends us back to a reduced level of practice for a few days, weeks, or months. It can happen to anyone. It is part of the journey. It is important to recognize that we will go into sharp curves in the road from time to time, and that we must take our foot off the gas pedal temporarily at those times, or risk a wild ride, or even a wreck. That's how it is. Once we know the advanced practices, how smoothly we travel home to enligtenment is all in the self-pacing.

I wish you success on your chosen spiritual path.

The guru is in you.


Click here for more lesson content on delayed energy reactions from overdoing practices, and more.

Self-Pacing Related Lessons Topic Path
Meditation Sensitivity Related Lessons Topic Path

Discuss this Lesson in the AYP Plus Support Forum

Note: For detailed instructions on building a balanced daily practice routine with self-pacing, see the Eight Limbs of Yoga Book, and AYP Plus.

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