Colour Meditation

The face is a means of communication, and colour is a way of expressing and integrating emotions. In colour meditation, you concentrate on a colour associated with an aspect of the material energy body, and utter the seed (bīja) sound corresponding to that colour. By focusing on each colour aspect or subtle energy of the egoic self, you acknowledge false identification (asmita). You will experience complete awareness of your transcendental self (īśvarapraṇidhāna) through colour meditation.

Colour meditation is as close and personal to me as my surname, Gan (pinyin: yán).

Chinese Character Pinyin Meaning
颜 yán Face
Chinese Character Combination Pinyin Meaning
颜色 yánsè Colour

In the colour wheel, my surname 颜 signifies colour:

Colour Ring

Material Energy Colour and Bīja Correspondence Reference Table

Material Energy Colour Bīja Karmendriya
(Organ of Action)
Jñānendriya
(Organ of Perception)
Buddhiḥ
Violet Ah Buddhiḥ
Buddhiḥ
Manaḥ
Indigo Aum Manaḥ
Manaḥ
Space Blue Ham Speaking Hearing (Audition)
Air Green Yam Grasping Touch (Tactition)
Fire Yellow Ram Moving Sight (Vision)
Water Orange Vam Procreating Taste (Gustation)
Earth Red Lam Eliminating Smell (Olfaction)
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From Transcendental Ratios to Euclidean Geometry to the Composite Body to Hasta Mudra and Nada Meditation: A Discourse

Abstract

My class discussion relates the axioms of Euclidean transcendental geometry to the dogmatic expressions of the tri-fold and five-fold models in the verses of the Rg-Veda and Upaniṣad. Particularly, I refer to the Tattva-prakṛti (microcosm-macrocosm) including the pañča mahabhūta model. I allow the prevailing theme of Tattvic cosmic energy to flow into the closing Yogi Bhajan practice of kirtan kriya, which consolidates our knowledge and awareness of prāṇa, the subtle body, the five bhūtas, and the transcendent, through the use of hasta mudra techniques and nada meditation.

Introduction

From the Invocation to Patañjali,

śańkha čakrasi dhariñām

the juxtaposition of a circle (čakra) and a conch shell (śańkha) in the verse, on one hand, indicates an affinity to the celestial, solar (čakra) signs of jyotiṣa (astrology) and, on the other, religious symbolism of traditional Vedic rituals.

On further analysis, intrigued by the conceit of transcendental ratios, I offer another layer of interpretation: the circle represents the transcendental number π, whereas the Valampuri conch shell represents the transcendental number ϕ.

Stone Patañjali Mūrti (Idol)
Stone Patañjali Mūrti (Idol)

Transcendental Ratios

Transcendental ratios represent the bases for the arcane studies in Sacred Geometry and Numerology, which attempt to relate microcosm and macrocosm. The orbits of planets and natural satellites are defined by π, whereas the geometric proportions and symmetries in nature are defined by the Golden Section or Golden Ratio, denoted by the Greek letter φ:

φThe geometric proportions of a conch shell can be defined mathematically by a linear recurrence equation, {F_n}_(n=1)^infty called the Fibonacci Sequence or Mātrāmeru (Number Mountain).

The Fibonacci numbers for n=1, 2, … are 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, …

A golden spiral is created by drawing circular arcs connecting the opposite corners of the squares in the Fibonacci tiling:

Fiobacci SpiralTri-fold and pentagonal Euclidean symmetries

In Euclid’s Elements, a collection of thirteen books on geometry, the golden mean is defined and applied to the construction of a regular pentagon, an icosahedron and a dodecahedron. Proportions in two dimensions are understood by viewing pentagonal geometries and the rule of thirds.

Composite body or śarīra

Tri-fold models are not uncommon in doctrines. For example, in Christianity, the Holy Trinity, represented by the celtic triquetra symbol as illustrated below, is used in conjunction with the ritual blessing by the sign of the cross.

Triquetra Christian Cross

In the Vedic model of śarīra (composite body) as described in the Taittirīya Upaniṣad of the Yajurveda, the five parts or proportions comprise of the head, the right wing, the left wing, the trunk, and the tail. Tri-fold models are mapped onto overlapping layers of the five-fold model to aid the śruti learning of dogmatic knowledge.

In the Vedic model, we apply the following tri-fold deconstruction of the composite body, in relation to five sheaths (kośaḥ):

  1. sthūla-śarīra (gross body) – annamayakośa
  2. sūkṣma-śarīra (subtle body) – prāṇamayakośa, manomayakośa and vijñānamayakośa
  3. kāraṇa-śarīra (causal body) – ānandamayakośa

śarīra

Nara refers to the misalignment of the five sheaths.

The Subtle Body (sūkṣma-śarīra)

The sheath of vital life force, or prāṇamayakośa, represents the system that governs the distribution of the vibration/energy of nutrition (anna) throughout the body. The breath (vāyu) model divides the body into:

Prāṇa vāyu: inward movement of energy

Apāna vāyu: outward excretion of energy

Samāna vāyu: balancing air at the seat of digestive fire (navel)

Udāna vāyu: upward-moving energy that promotes mental clarity and acute sensory function

Vyāna vāyu: outward-moving wind that processes the intake of food and circulates the entire body

vāyusThe sheath of cognition (manas), or manomayakośa, comprises of knowledge, or vidya. The following diagram illustrates the arrangement of the four canonical collections of Vedic Sanskrit literature and the commentaries, brāhmaṇa.

manomaya kośaIntuition and wisdom (jñāna) represent the deeper sheath of the intellect, vijñānamayakośa, comprising of śraddhā (faith), satya (truth), ṛtaṃ (morality), mahat (cosmic), and yoga.

vijñānamaya kośaThe Causal Body (kāraṇa-śarīra)

The internal vibration that hums at the heart (hdaya) of all human consciousness – kāraṇa-śarīra, represents the causal body conceived as ānandamayakośa, comprising of priyam (love), moda (joy), pramoda (delight), ānanda (bliss) and īśvara (the transcendent). Strung by the energies of karma (action and relationship), this is the vibration within you that directs you towards owning your bhāva (pure intention).

ānandamaya kośaVedic Five Element (pañča mahabhūta) model

The Universal Cosmic microcosm-macrocosm (Tattva-prakṛti) vibration currents rotate from Ether (Ākāśa), to Air (Vāyu), to Fire (Agni), to Water (Jala), to Earth (Pṛthivī).

pancha mahabhutaSolar signs (rāśiḥ) in Vedic astrology grouped into four elements of three

Solar signs

Northern Lights

Hasta Mudra and Nada Meditation

The following hasta mudra and nada meditation practice is popularly named “kirtan kriya” by Yogi Bhajan, even though it is not contemporary bhakti kirtan and it is also not a kriya technique. The intention of the practice is to purify the mind through sound (nada) meditation.

When you intend to practice this meditation technique, you must first prepare to start from calm attentiveness. Mudra techniques engage the subtle body, so you must be ready to experience the subtle aspects of the practice, otherwise your mind will simply be distracted by large movements. I describe the use of mudra techniques in this manner as analogous to controlling the sails of your boat while you are at the mercy of winds and ocean currents.

This meditative technique engages and stabilizes the healing power of the biorhythmic electromagnetic currents in the subtle body, and allows you to notice the thin spaces within.

Five Elements (Tattvas)

Jñāna mudra: Thumb to index finger, increases the Air Tattva in the body

Ākāśa mudra: Thumb to middle finger, balances the space within the body

Pṛthvī mudra: Thumb to ring finger, increases the Earth Tattva in the body

Varuṇa mudra: Thumb to little finger, increases the Water Tattva in the body

Instructions:

  1. Adopt Jñāna mudra gesture while saying “Sa”
  2. Adopt Ākāśa mudra gesture while saying “Ta”
  3. Adopt Pṛthvī mudra gesture while saying “Na”
  4. Adopt Varuṇa mudra gesture while saying “Ma”
  5. Sa-Ta-Na-Ma are primal sounds that form the words “satya-nāma” (True Name) meaning the transcendent
  6. Repeat 3x aloud
  7. Repeat 3x softly
  8. Repeat 3x silently
  9. Repeat 3x softly
  10. Repeat 3x aloud

Afterword

Mystery is a necessary part of the living condition. Without mystery in life, there would be no motivation for human beings to seek out new ways to distinguish and define their own particular human characteristics and purpose in life. It is by becoming involved in playing with the mystery that contributes to the meditation of the living condition, conveying human consciousness from darkness towards dawn. In Sanskrit, gu (गु) means darkness and ru (रु) means light, while sandhyā is a special word that refers to the transition between the darkness of gloom and the dawn of joy and knowledge. I bow down in gratitude for the wisdom in these teachings that were transmitted to me according to Yoga parampara.

Merging Galaxies

Meditation

My experience of meditation involves a self-inquiry that promotes clarity of knowledge (jñana) in a controlled setting to prepare for conscious total absorption with the self. Mental clarity and acuity are related to well-being and health, and affect interpersonal relationships. Thus, meditation offers the means for change and adaptability.

My intention is to use meditation to explore our own nature, which is to be at peace with daily life, and to be able to deal with the stressors in the activities of everyday life. “Yoga” (union) represents the union of one with the guru, the union of husband and wife, the union of one with community, the union of one with nature, and the union of one with God. Simply put, to study Yoga is to study the self and its relationships.

Self-inquiry is a reflection on the subject that is personal identity, referred to in Sanskrit as asmitā (I-am-ness) or ahaṃkāra (I-maker).

Although the range of self-inquiry tools and techniques is broad, the effectiveness of the tools and techniques depends on the person, how well he/she responds to visualization, sound, movement, etc. Yoga meditation practices can include yantra (symbols such as mandala), mantra, chanting, prayer, bhāvana (visualization and intention, e.g. focus on material wealth, or strength and vitality), bandha, conscious breathing, sound, nyāsam (gestures such as bringing hands close to the heart centre), shanmukhi mudrā (gesture of withdrawing from the senses).

In designing a meditation practice, it is a good idea to keep the practice simple (and non-confrontational), pace its steps to flow appropriately from the start to the finish, incorporate physical postures and breathing exercises that add meaning to the objectives of the practice, and invite possibilities for creative expression that provide a conduit for mental absorption.

Yoga meditation trains the conscious mind to experience absorption (samādhi) without stress or exertion, by focusing the thoughts (dhāraṇā) on an arbitrary object, and engaging the creative outlet of contemplation (dhyāna). Samādhi results in optimal cognition, which is indicated by more pronounced, ecstatic brain activity in the frontal lobe, and by the vital effects of the brain’s creative faculties and memory, as the thoughts fly freely.

Some might consider meditation a profound revelation (likened to forgiveness and salvation), but the same processes of unravelling the mind occur naturally and unconsciously as lucid dreaming during deep sleep, which human beings need to function well and to maintain their sanity. Meditation is simply the conscious engagement of the cathartic processes of the parasympathetic nervous system, to deal with attachments, so that they do not become afflictions in our lives.

Maitrī Meditation: mātā bhūmiḥ putro’ham pṛthivyāḥ

Mātā: Mother
Bhūmiḥ: Earth
Putra: son (child)
Ahaṃ: I, the one single being
Pṛthivīvyāhā: of the earth

Pṛthivī-Sūkta, Atharva-Veda (12.1.12)

What the world provides freely, people take for granted. Greedy industrialists exploit the Earth’s natural resources on a grand scale, often producing much needless waste and harm. Somehow with the growing concern that the tax on the world is unsustainable, people seek to conquer the far frontiers of space, as if finding a new Earth would solve everything. Why do we look outwardly for the answers, rather than looking within? In the same vein, why do we push ourselves to the limit, without taking some time to relax?

By practicing Yoga, we observe our relationship to the Earth, the room we inhabit, the air we breathe and share with others, Gravity that makes us strong. Without the relationship/attachment to the Earth, there can be no Yoga, which is the yoking of You and Mother Earth. As we recite the verse, mātā bhūmiḥ putro’ham pṛthivyā, we express gratitude and delight for receiving the gift that is Yoga.

Maitrī Meditation: lokaḥ samastaḥ sukhino bhavantuḥ

Excerpt from the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniad 1.4.14:

Sarve sukhino bhavantuḥ (May all be happy)
Sarve janaḥ sukhino bhavantuḥ (May all people be happy)
Sarva jīva jantu sukhino bhavantuḥ (May all beings be happy)
Lokaḥ samastaḥ sukhino bhavantuḥ (May the whole world be happy)

Maitrī (मैत्रि) (Loving Kindness) Prayer:

May I be happy
May I be peaceful
May I be free from all negativity
May I be aware of the light of my true nature

May you be happy
May you be peaceful
May you be free from all negativity
May you be aware of the light of your true nature

Thereafter send it out to the world:

May all beings be happy
May all beings be peaceful
May all beings be free from negativity
May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature

Sańkalpa and the power of Intention

Sańkalpa is the sanskrit term for wish or desire.

It is important to create a mindful sańkalpa during the practice of yoga nidrā tantra meditation. Depending on the individual, the sańkalpa will determine the course of the practice, and the difficulty of the activity. It is a powerful tool for self-development. To use the technique, the yogi must plan to incorporate activities that are process-oriented (rather than goal-oriented), allowing the individual to engage in the present moment wholeheartedly. Meaningful intention is desire in action, not waiting for a goal to materialise in the future. It demands commitment and resolve (from the heart rather than the ego), and encourages the individual to be truthful to oneself.

Modify your practice accordingly, say, if you have a shoulder injury from strain. Severe muscle ruptures or tears require rehabilitation of the injury (after reducing the inflammation) to recover flexibility, correct alignment and reduce scar tissue.

On Dhyāna

Sage Patañjali prescribes eight limbs (aṣṭānga) of Rājā Yoga in the second pada of the yoga sūtras: yāma (restrictions), niyāma (observances), āsana (postures), prāṇāyāma (breath work), pratyāhāra (sense withdrawal or non-attachment), dhāraṇā (concentration or mindfulness), dhyāna (meditation), samādhi (realization of the true Self or Ātman). The combined practice of dhāraṇā, dhyāna and samādhi constitute saṃyama, the kinetic and spontaneous flow of attention and energy in the object of meditation.

Whereas dhāraṇā involves binding thought to an object, such as a candle flame, dhyāna involves meditation without the object in a state of trance that leads to an heightened awareness of one’s connectedness with the world, samādhi.

Dhyāna is a tool to gain self-knowledge, creativity and ability to concentrate. The practice of dhyāna frees the mind to explore creative variations and maintain adequate energy levels in the body throughout the day.