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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 302 - The Far-Reaching Consequences of Samyama  (Audio)

AYP Plus Additions:
302.1 - Caution on Using the Samyama Sutras of Patanjali  (Audio)
302.2 - Samyama and a Taste of Unity  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: Feb 4, 2009

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?"


The word "Samyama" is most often regarded with a sense of mystery and mysticism, and imbued with an air of the super-natural, if it has even been heard of at all. For those who are generally familiar with the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, samyama is known to somehow encompass the last three limbs of the famous eight limbs of yoga, and is associated with the acquisition of "super-normal powers," or "siddhis." Indeed, Patanjali devotes one of the four chapters of the Yoga Sutras to said super-normal powers, even while telling us not to become too attached to them. It all sounds pretty esoteric, doesn"t it?

But what if I told you that samyama is only a fancy word for systematically releasing our desires and intentions into stillness, and, that by cultivating this habit, the quality of our life can be improved in many practical ways? In fact, whether we have realized it or not, we have been doing samyama all our life, at least when we have surrendered our desires to our concept of a higher power. When we have, we have found relief from whatever led us to the surrender, and often a much-needed turn in our life in the direction of greater opening and fulfillment. However we may regard the concept of a higher power, and no matter what our religious background, our surrender has invariably been into a living presence that we can also call "stillness." It is the act of surrender that brings about the relief and the opening to newness. This is always a miracle, no matter how subtle or manifest the outcome may be. We do not have to exhibit super-normal powers to be living a life full of miracles. All it takes is an abiding stillness in us and an ability to release our thoughts, feelings and actions into That.

Those who have been reading along with these lessons know that we have been attending to the cultivation of stillness since the beginning, with the daily practice of deep meditation. We have also called it the cultivation of abiding inner silence. It has many names, but it is always the same thing - our inner nature where all peace, love, energy, creativity and accomplishments are born. Abiding stillness arises naturally in us as we practice daily meditation over weeks, months and years.

Here in AYP, we also attend to the cultivation of a special kind of conductivity in the human nervous system. We call it "ecstatic conductivity" because it is ecstatic. In a more advanced form, we also call it "ecstatic radiance," because our ecstasy becomes radiant, reaching beyond our physical body. Not only once in a while, but all the time. This rising energetic phenomenon is also called "kundalini." It is a transformation in the neurobiology.

What does this ecstatic quality in us have to do with stillness and samyama? It provides the medium for stillness to "move" out through us into everyday living. In this way we experience the blissful stillness within us as an overflowing joy in our life. Joy is the first manifestation of it. From there, it continues going outward in innumerable ways, according to the need of our life and our surroundings. We all know intuitively that by "being still" we can tap into this process of divine outpouring.  

As it says in the Old Testament of the Bible: "Be still, and know that I am God."  

This is not a new teaching! To be living our life from within our inherent stillness has been known to be the holy grail of human existence since time immemorial.

But how do we do this? It is a good first step to be cultivating abiding stillness through daily deep meditation, just as it is good to be cultivating ecstatic conductivity through spinal breathing pranayama. The next step is samyama, which was first introduced as a core practice way back in Lesson 150, and has been revisited often ever since. In the past three lessons, we have introduced additional structured applications of samyama, systematically expanding our awareness to its natural unboundedness with cosmic samyama (advanced yoga nidra), enhancing the influence of our yoga postures, and increasing the power of our sincere prayers. These are a few of the ways, we can use the principle of samyama to enhance our everyday experience of life, bringing the positive influence of stillness into the equation. We have called it awakening "stillness in action." 

There is much more, and the further we go in incorporating samyama into everyday living, the more we will be engaging in the habit of letting go and flowing, rather than constantly struggling with ourselves and everything around us. We will keep our structured practices during the times we have assigned to them in our daily routine. With these, we will be cultivating the inner habits of abiding stillness (inner silence), ecstatic conductivity and radiance, and the process of releasing naturally into stillness with our thoughts, feelings and actions. In this way our life becomes a constant joyful outpouring of divine purpose, a never-ending flow of stillness in action. We become a partner in this process, and find a life without fear and suffering, even as life may go on externally much as it did before. It is our internal point of view that will be constantly reborn in stillness, and all of our relationships and actions will be influenced accordingly.

As we move along in these lessons, we will be delving deeper into how the rise of stillness and the habit of samyama can be used in practical ways in daily living. With a foundation of knowledge about the principles of samyama, and, more importantly, practice and experience, we will be able to approach areas of additional spiritual practice that may have been problematic before. Here we are speaking of "self-inquiry" and "karma yoga" (service), which are important spiritual practices, but have often been problematic for practitioners to engage in without getting mired in intellectualizing and/or running into emotional obstacles. With an intelligent approach to applying the principles of samyama, these obstructions can be dissolved, leading to much more fulfillment in life.

So, you see, samyama is both ordinary and extraordinary. Ordinary, in that it is simply about doing what we have been seeking to do for much of our life - operate from the deepest, most capable and secure level of who we are. And extraordinary, in that all peace, compassion, creativity and divine energy can flow out through us into this worldly existence. In this way, all of life is seen to be extraordinarily ordinary, and a joy to be living, no matter what may be going on.

Practice wisely, and enjoy!

The guru is in you.

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Note: For detailed instructions on samyama practice, including multiple applications, and self-directed research, see the Samyama book and the Liberation book, and AYP Plus.

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