Note: For the Original
Internet Lessons with additions,
For the Expanded and Interactive Internet Lessons, AYP Online Books,
Audiobooks and more, see AYP Plus.
Lesson 232 -
Meditation and Automatic Yoga (a dialog) (Audio)
AYP Plus Additions:
232.1 - Head Movements
in Deep Meditation (Audio)
Distracting Automatic Movements during Deep Meditation (Audio)
Date: Thu Aug 26, 2004 4:06pm
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
Q1: I recorded my experience today with the I AM meditation. I am just
beginning so this is as far as I have gone. The experience was awesome, as
they say. I am keeping a diary of what I experience. I have copied my
experience and pasted it here. I wanted to find out if what I experienced is
"normal". Thank you.
August 16th, 2004 8:34-8:55
2nd attempt at I AM. First time I did this was lying in bed. Did it for
about 20 minutes and then went to sleep. Did not notice anything
spectacular. Probably wasn't a good idea to do it in bed as it is too
relaxing and I was sleepy when I did it.
Had coffee, no food prior to beginning:
2nd time, sat in my office chair with doors closed. Palms on thighs. After
some time, felt as though I was about to float out of top of head but only
very briefly. Felt like a floating sensation. This happened twice.
Then after some more time, an overwhelming tingling sensation washed over my
body and became stronger and stronger. I noticed my breathing change with
it. It was intense like a wave similar to waves of ecstasy one has in
approaching orgasm. It was definitely sexual in nature and ran throughout my
entire body, not just one area.
When it first started however it also resembled the feeling one gets when
one experiences some excitement of the kind that gives one goose bumps and
butterflies. Similar to what may be referred to as an adrenal rush but, but
a good one. This tingly sensation of excitement soon led to the waves of
ecstasy described above.
After several moments of this it was almost as though I could take no more,
and then it backed off for some moments. Then a second wave came like the
first. I actually made some verbal sound as a sigh or groan as it continued
and my breathing became heavier and deeper. I noticed too I felt like I
might be trembling but am not sure now whether my body was actually
trembling or it just felt that way.
After this second wave passed, for some reason I was ready, perhaps even
anxious, to end the session but was aware that I was supposed to do this for
a full twenty minutes. I looked at my clock and saw that I still had a
little more than 5 minutes or so to go so resumed it. After some moments,
again, the feeling started to come as described above but this time it was
more jolting, not as smooth as the first two. I felt this jolt twice. After
some moments I ended the session, having gone a total of about 20 minutes. I
took several deep breaths and remained sitting and rested as advised and
then wrote this so that I forgot nothing.
A1: Thank you for writing and sharing.
You are off to a very good start, finding out right away the difference
between meditating lying down and sitting up! Keep in mind that your
experiences will vary over time, sometimes very deep, sometimes with lots of
energy (even sexual - you will read more on that in later lessons), other
times dull, and sometimes a bit restless. All experiences are correct as
long as we favor the easy procedure of meditation. What is important is long
term daily practice. That is what purifies and opens our nervous system. See
lesson #180 with
a response to someone having strong start like you did.
Our experiences during practices are mostly due to purification going on in
our nervous system, and will vary greatly. Even ecstatic experiences are
largely purification. It all comes out according to how the impressions of
past actions are stacked inside. There is no accounting for it, and all we
have to do is our procedure of practice, and purification and opening
happens. So, don't become too attached to experiences that occur in
meditation. Practice is good if we follow the procedure, no matter what
happens experientially in our sitting. Of course we all love blissful and
ecstatic experiences. Enjoy them when they happen. But keep in mind that
experiences are symptoms, not the practice itself. We don't want to become
distracted from our practice by experiences that come up. So when
experiences come, we notice them, and go back to the practice we are doing.
That is what keeps us going forward toward enlightenment. As you read
through, you will encounter many lessons that discuss this from a variety of
Q2: Thank you. I am somewhat relieved to know that I don't necessarily have
to expect to repeat that experience. Otherwise I may have thought I was
doing something wrong if nothing happened next time.
I just read lesson #39 & #41 on
pranayama, which I have not yet tried. I did some deep breathing before
starting my meditation on I AM that morning. Maybe that was one reason my
experience was so dramatic.
I am taking another course that gives the sound OOMM to chant. I haven't
been doing it lately but thought I would start again. I saw one of the Q&As
where you state the difference between "I AM" and "OMM", that latter being
circular. But I am wondering if I should wait a while after the meditation
to do my OMMM chanting.
I have several questions:
Can you tell me when I should start trying spinal breathing pranayama? That
is, are there a certain number of days that one should do the I AM
meditation before they do the pranayama exercise? Also is it advisable to
set an egg timer so that I will know when my 20 minutes are up? Is it
necessary to do it 2x per day to achieve optimum results? Do you state
somewhere in the Q&A why the lotus position is better than sitting in a
I am really surprised at how powerful that mediation technique is. I still
can't believe it. I had always wondered at the significance of the phrase I
AM in the Bible. Now I am even more curious and want to go back through all
the places where it is referenced.
My husband is going to try it sitting up now. He too had only tried it lying
down before so I am anxious to hear of his results. I didn't tell him about
mine because I didn't want him to be expecting a certain result.
A2: Given that you have just started and have lots happening already, it
would be wise to stabilize your meditation practice for at least a few weeks
before adding pranayama. Then you will have a good platform from which to
expand. As you read through the lessons you will see a lot on "self-pacing,"
which is essential for success in yoga. You already have seen the first
lesson on this (#38)
called "What is your time line?" A very important subject - more important
than any single practice. Without a skilled driver, the car is not likely to
reach its destination.
Self-pacing applies to taking on other practices outside AYP too, which is
risky to begin with because the effects in combination with AYP practices
can be unpredictable. You are in charge of your journey. Be measured in your
approach, always stabilizing what you have before moving ahead. Each person
is different. Stabilizing could take weeks or months. In some cases (as with
mantra enhancements and advanced pranayama-kumbhaka methods given later in
the lessons) it could take years. A few days will rarely do it. Even experts
in yoga have to apply prudent self-pacing in practices to accommodate the
many experiences that come up as the nervous system goes though stages of
purification. So, satisfy your thirst for knowledge by reading on, but build
your routine very gradually so you can remain consistent in your practices
over the long term. That is how enlightenment happens. Rome was not built in
It is okay to use an egg timer for meditation, but don't become too
dependent on it. It is best to develop the inner clock for timing practices,
with occasional peeking at the watch or clock as necessary. Once we have
this "inner clock" skill, then using an egg timer is not our sole means of
timing. That way, if you are without your egg timer, you won't be at a loss.
Siddhasana (not lotus) is the way of sitting that the lessons evolve toward.
You will see why as you read on. It is a simple and powerful practice for
raising ecstatic energy. The cultivation of inner silence and ecstatic
energy, and their natural union (inner lovemaking of "shiva and shakti" or
"father and holy spirit"), is the key to human spiritual transformation.
On the twice a day, read lesson #148.
Many of your questions you can find answers to in the topic
the web site, or by using the site search feature. I will be happy to help
with anything that you cannot find a satisfactory answer on.
The methods in the lessons are the simplest and most powerful I have
encountered over more than three decades on the path, integrated together
into a system of practices. So, yes, this is all very powerful stuff. Use
good self-pacing, avoid tangents (lots of those will tempt you), and you can
go very far with this over the long term. Enjoy!
Q3: Thank you much again. Yesterday I again received the waves washing over
me, up and down which felt as I can best describe, as an electrical current.
I noticed my breathing began to change each time this occurred causing me to
take deeper breaths, which I immediately corrected. I soon found that I
could control the waves at will. Not sure if I should allow them or
I also noticed my head began both times to rock gently back and forth and
then to eventually sway side to side in what seemed a figure 8. After the
experience, I did a search under "swaying" and found where one of your
students also experienced swaying but with his entire body. I read your
responses about not letting all these sensations detract from the main
For the first time today, I did my meditation in the lotus position with my
back against my couch. It wasn't as comfortable and was a bit distracting a
few times but I managed to keep directing my attention away from the
discomfort and concentrate on the mediation. The electrical waves came
again, but this time were a lot more subtle. And again when the breathing
intensified I immediately stopped it and calmed it and stayed quiet.
I did away with the egg timer and peeked at the clock again. I think I may
have been a little more anxious to end the session because of the position I
was in. When it was over, my lower leg was asleep. I didn't see any
instruction on "when" we should start the lotus position. I did see lesson
I will start doing some exercises to limber my joints up a bit which I
remember from ballet school many a year ago. I still felt my mediation was
good though it wasn't quite as smooth as in the sitting position.
A3: You are having the classic symptoms of what I call "automatic yoga,"
from just a few days of meditation. It goes without saying that you have
come "wired" for this from past lives of work in yoga. We are all wired for
it by virtue of our human nervous system. Some have more neural conductivity
than others because they have done direct work on the circuitry before. You
are one of those, and now you are picking up where you left off. We all have
the same journey and destination - purification and opening of our nervous
system to unending ecstatic bliss and outflowing divine love.
By automatic yoga, I mean physical, mental and emotional tendencies coming
up out of nowhere, seemingly unrelated to the practice we are doing. This
happens because there is a connectedness of yoga throughout our nervous
system. This is explained in more detail later in the lessons, particularly
in discussing the "eight
limbs of yoga".
For now, just know that your rising desire to study, practice, take on more,
etc. is all coming from the few dives you have taken into pure bliss
consciousness within. So too are the bending legs, breathing symptoms, and
head movements from this. Pretty amazing, isn't it? The lessons will help
you guide all of these tendencies step by step into a safe and effective
routine of practices.
When movements or deep breathing come up in meditation, we don't entertain
them, or force them out. We just easily go back to the procedure of
meditation, picking up the mantra at whatever level of refinement we left
it, and let it continue to refine.
Breathing generally becomes very quiet during meditation, as the metabolism
slows way down. If it is getting deeper or is speeding up, that could be
associated with ecstatic energies beginning to move. Don't dwell on that, as
it will take your attention away from the simple process of meditation. When
you begin spinal breathing (a separate practice done before meditation),
then you will have the opportunity to cultivate the ecstatic energies in a
progressive and balanced way. Favor the procedure for using the mantra
during meditation over anything that comes up. The same goes for head
movements and other symptoms that can occur - just easily let it go in favor
of meditation. Much later in the lessons, you will see that head movements
also will be part of practices in the form of an advanced method called
"chin pump." That is way down the road though. You are just starting out.
Take things one step at a time. Gently favor the practice you are doing, no
matter what else comes up. If some of these things become so strong that
they seem to be dominating your meditation time, then just be easy and let
your attention be with the movements or sensations (without encouraging
them) for a few minutes without picking up the mantra. That will help
stabilize the energy flow. Then after a few minutes you can go back to
On the folding legs, the lessons do not teach lotus (feet up on thighs). We
use siddhasana instead, which is a more direct means for cultivating the
ecstatic energies within. Once you get through spinal breathing, mulabandha,
and sambhavi, you will come to siddhasana. You are doing right to be
loosening up the legs now. No need to go up on the thighs with your feet
though - just develop some comfort having the legs folded with toes tucked
under a bit, as discussed in lesson #33.
This builds a foundation for things to come, with a minimum of distraction
to meditation. If it becomes too distracting, ease off the folded legs. Try
one folded until two works. Try legs folded only one sitting out of two each
day. It is a gradual process of adjustment that can takes weeks or months to
work into. In the meantime, keep as comfortable as possible while
meditating. In time, sitting with legs folded will be completely natural and
unnoticed during practices. So will siddhasana, except for the fountain of
unending ecstasy coming up from it. Well, that is another subject.
Timing for taking on new practices is discussed in the course of the
lessons. It has to do with your ability to assimilate things more than
anything. That is why specific times are not given. Everyone is different.
The main thing is not to get too far ahead of yourself. Even that is not the
end of the world in the short term, as long as you know to back off when you
get a little too far ahead of your nervous system's ability to digest new
practices. It is a process of always testing, stepping forward, and stepping
back -gradually learning the ropes of this wonderful transformable spiritual
vehicle we are living in - the human nervous system!
Q4: I took a quick skim of the chin pump article (#139)
and it seems that describes something very similar to what was happening to
This is getting quite exciting but I want to take it step by step as you
suggested so I didn't read it in detail. There are so many articles that to
do otherwise would be very difficult in any case. Yesterday for the first
time, I did the meditation twice. My legs were just crossed. (I haven't even
attempted the lotus position & am glad to hear we won't be expected to use
it!) Again, sitting cross legged was very distracting but once I got into
the meditation it became smoother.
I am wondering about the meditation on "I AM". Over the past weeks before I
found your yahoo group and website, I had been doing a mental affirmation
throughout the day, "I am in harmony with Christ". I even have a pillow
speaker under my pillow with me speaking that affirmation. The reason for
this was that I had read in one of the books I am currently reading (reading
Spalding on the Siddha Masters, Collier, Trine & Hill so I get them mixed up
sometimes) and one them had said that one of the reasons for sickness,
stress, etc. was being out of harmony with Christ. Also they all talk about
us as being Divine, that God is within us. I suppose I grew up like a lot of
people thinking about Him as being up there somewhere separate from us.
So sometimes in my meditation, while thinking I AM, I am thinking of God
then I alternate with just meditating on the words "I AM" without thinking
of God. So I suppose I'm uncertain as to how to think/feel when I think "I
At one point, for just a few seconds last night in my second session, it
seemed I stepped out and forward from the meditation on the words, into a
circle with some colors and there were no words or thinking. It was just
like a complete separation from thought and body. But it was just for
seconds and then I was back thinking I AM. This occurred a couple of times
very briefly. I wanted to explore it more but it didn't happen again. It was
as though I was on the very edge of something but couldn't quite get there.
Then during this morning's mediation, I felt that same separateness but this
time rather than moving up into a circle I felt as though I were falling
backwards and floating into that separateness. Again, all thought of
thinking I AM and my body was forgotten. It was so 'still'. I wanted it to
last longer again but it was only for a few seconds a couple of times. For
the first time since beginning the meditation, I wasn't anxious to come out
of it. I was content to stay there but went ahead and ended it at 20 minutes
since that's what you have advised.
I do have a question that is confusing me even while I meditate:
Should I think of God as I meditate I AM or try just to meditate I AM
without its meaning or thinking of God or my Divine nature? Should I try to
divorce the meditation form thoughts of God?
I wanted to check about something new that happened last night.
Yesterday and last night I noticed at times, my breathing was so slight,
that once I thought I had stopped breathing. But the newest thing is last
night, the area in my solar plexus was pressed inward to such a degree that
it felt as though my entire rib cage was exposed with the area in the middle
under the breastbone going inward. It must have actually been drawn inward
towards my back for I could feel the movement under my breast. It wasn't
painful, just really intense. I didn't think I was holding my breath and
cannot remember now this morning exactly how my breathing was when this
happened. I should have made notes right after this. So naturally again I am
wondering about this and if you have ever heard of this happening?
A4: The mantra is used for sound only, not meaning. In the topic
can find several lessons on this under "mantra - language and meaning."
Another way to spell the "I AM" mantra is "AYAM." Same pronunciation. None
of this takes away from the meaning and mystique of the Christian phrase, "I
AM." It is just that when we use it as a mantra, it is the vibration that
matters, not the English meaning. My background is Christian also.
So, when thoughts come up in meditation regarding the meaning of I AM, or
God, or whatever, we just treat them like any other thoughts that come up
and easily go back to the mantra. The same is true for all experiences we
have in meditation, no matter how ecstatic, profound, revelatory, strange,
or dramatic - when we realize we are off into something, no matter what, we
just easily go back to the mantra. That is the procedure of meditation.
Ah, you noticed the breathing slowing down and nearly stopping. As
mentioned before, that is normal.
The diaphragm pulling in and up is another of those automatic yogas. It is
called "uddiyana." You can find discussions on it in the practices section
(top) of the topic
Take it step-by-step, and enjoy!
Q5: So in other countries, in other languages they also use "I AM" rather
than their translation of "I AM"?
I just did a quick read of the article you referred to on uddiyana. This is
so incredible that my body is doing all of these things on its own. Though I
hadn't mentioned it, my tongue has also been cupping and pressing against
the roof of my mouth near the front. I didn't realize it was something that
you consciously try to do. I guess whatever my body starts to do from here
on, I can safely assume it knows better than I.
I am trying to follow everything step by step. By my body jumping into all
of these things on its own, am I at risk in not developing properly since I
seem to be doing things out of order? I only start out by thinking to do
only the mediation. These things are just happening on their own. I've had
some other things happen as well that I may later learn are automatic yoga.
A5: Yes, since we are using the sound of I AM (AYAM) and not the meaning,
translation of meaning into other languages is not advised. The sound has a
universal vibratory resonance in the human nervous system. That's why I call
it a universal mantra.
Ah, the tongue has gone up? That is called "kechari," a very important one
we talk about a lot in the later lessons. You can look it up in the topic
With all this coming up, I can see that you are a little concerned about how
to manage it going forward. I suggest you don't even try. Just do your
practices according to plan, taking on new ones gradually over the coming
months and years, with the priority being to establish stable practice each
step along the way. Whatever comes up as automatic yoga, regard with
equanimity, and stay the course with structured daily practice over the long
term. If you do that, then all these things will fit together naturally in
Given your fast moving situation, the most important things I recommend you
keep in mind are patience and self-pacing in practices. If you try and
accommodate all that is going on at the same time, it will be very
difficult. You have many gifts of yoga sprouting there. Tend your garden
with care, day by day, and you will travel far.
Always remember that the most important practice is deep meditation. This is
what cultivates our foundation of inner silence underneath all of the
external hub-bub. Without it we will be flailing about in the wind, with no
center, no matter how much automatic yoga we have going on. Inner silence
(pure bliss consciousness) is the key to all progress in yoga.
As it says in the psalms, "Be still, and know I am God."
Q6: Thank you for your answer to my many questions. I was a little concerned
about how to manage these things but that has now been put to rest by your answer. I will proceed methodically as though these things
Yesterday, I only did the meditation (with spinal breathing) once rather
than twice. I had been for several days, experiencing a difficulty in
putting my mind/energy on the more mundane tasks that my work requires. I
had no motivation to do my work and thought that it might be a result of the
mediation. I remember that you have stated that it is advisable to rest
after the meditation and I never really did that beyond a minute or two at
most so perhaps that is what I needed to do.
But I decided yesterday to try doing without the morning session and only
did the evening session. I looked in your Q&A for any info on whether you
are to do it everyday, 7 days a week or if it's desirable to perhaps
occasionally skip a day or one of the two sessions once in a while at least
at the beginning. It may be there in the postings but I didn't find anything
that addressed this question.
One other thing I wanted to ask about: I had written after my second or
third mediation that I had found I could control the waves of energy charge
that pulsed through my body at will. It started off happening without
conscious effort but then I found I could make it happen again with minor
effort. But lately, the last couple of days, I have been experiencing this
in my daily routine out of mediation as well. At times during the day or
night I feel the urge to push this energy current through my body at will.
It might be while making a protein shake or working at my computer or while
watching the news. It's becoming somewhat addictive I think. It's happening
at least once about every hour. If I don't do it willingly, then it comes on
its own. I don't feel it's a bad thing. It feels rather pleasant and gives
me an unexplainable feeling of empowerment. Is this an enhancement of my
spiritual powers or merely a part of the purification process?
A6: Yes, taking it easy, and one day at a time, is the best approach. It is
the best approach whenever big changes come into our life - our system
is opening us up to become infinite pure bliss consciousness encompassing
the entire universe!
Yes, the experiences are part of purification and will change - expand
actually, so there is much more to come. And yes, it can be addictive. That
is in the very first lesson - my addiction to yoga and the experiences it
brings. To borrow a word from the 12 step program for addicts, maybe we are
all "recovering" yogis and yoginis. Recovering what is ours that has been
long lost, that is. It is not primarily about the ecstatic experience of the
moment. It is about something infinitely bigger than the greatest ecstatic
pleasure we can have today. Enjoy your experiences, and incorporate them
into your everyday life. The best way to do that is by taking your bliss and
sharing it with others in simple ways. Simple living for the benefit of
others is the best way I know to keep rising ecstatic experiences from going
to our heads. That's part of why I am writing these lessons. What good is
rising enlightenment if it is unshared? Not much good at all. Down-right
self-indulgent. The truth is, enlightenment can't happen fully until it is
shared in service for the benefit of others, because enlightenment is, by
It is not our fault that the true nature of life is ecstatic bliss. The
human nervous system is an ecstasy machine. Should we run from that? I don't
think so. As we move into our natural state of ecstasy, we can do so with
responsibility. That is how we can make the journey. Ecstatic bliss must
flow outward to the world to find its fruition, and so too must we. To do
anything less is a form of spiritual hedonism. We may do that for a while,
just indulge inwardly in our ecstatic experiences. That's okay. Sooner or
later we will go out into the world with our ecstatic bliss. It is
inevitable. Along the way in yoga, we unravel one of the greatest of all
mysteries through our direct experience - the role of sexuality in human
As for daily practices, it is better to stick with two sessions every day,
because developing and maintaining the habit is so very important. This was
covered in a lesson not long ago (#209)
called, "Fitting daily practices into a busy schedule." I know that lack of
time is not the reason you have tried cutting back to one session, but that
lesson gets into the reasons why keeping the twice daily habit is so
important. So does lesson #148,
"Why practices twice a day?"
If you are feeling a bit over-stimulated in your practices, then the thing
to do is cut back on time in the twice daily sittings. If you are doing 5
minutes spinal breathing and 20 minutes meditation, and are having too much
happening, then, rather than doing it once a day, try cutting breathing back
to a few minutes and meditation to 15 minutes twice a day. If that is still
too much, then try meditation at 10 minutes. It can be ramped back up later
as your nervous system adjusts to the energies. This is the all-important
topic of "self-pacing" which is discussed extensively in the lessons. The
key is to find a balanced and stable twice daily routine. That way, we can
cultivate inner silence and ecstatic energies in our nervous system and
stabilize them in activity using a twice daily cycle, which is much more
effective than doing a once daily cycle with longer practice. Of course,
there will be times that we are too pressed for time or too exhausted to do
much of anything at practice time. Then we just keep the habit by sitting
for a minute or two with eyes closed. See how that works? It is about the
twice daily habit. As they say, "use it or lose it." We can be flexible with
our times and practices within that twice daily commitment, as necessary.
Q7: I had a session yesterday that was, well all I could think afterwards
was WOW! I had had two days of quieter mediation with the usual 'automatic'
head rocking and circling but the experience was much milder and quieter
without all the involuntary surges of energy as before and no new automatic
So I decided to move on and incorporate lessons #41, #54 & #55 (on
spinal breathing, kundalini, and mulabandha) in my session yesterday. The
experience was the most powerful I have had yet and there were a lot of new
things, what you call "automatic yoga" going on I think.
A7: As you add on new practices, keep in mind that there can be a delayed
reaction in effects. So we don't really know all of what a new practice is
doing for a few weeks at least. If you have piled on two or three new
practices, and things take off, it may be hard to figure out what is doing
what - and that's when self-pacing gets tricky - what to back off on when
the energy is flying everywhere? Getting a bit ahead of yourself is not the
end of the world, as long as you know to back off when necessary for a
smoother ride. You'll get the hang of it.
Just remember you have a spiritual Ferrari there (an extra fast one) and you
have to learn how to drive the thing without running off the road. You are
in the driver's seat.
All the best on your journey. Vrrrooom!
The guru is in you.
See this complete instructional lesson, and all the expanded and interactive AYP Plus lessons at:
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.
Previous | Next