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The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yug which means to yoke or join. In this instance we are referring to the yoking of the body, mind and soul.

Who are we? We are atma (individualised soul) expressing through the mind/body. The mind and the body are instruments of the soul. Paramatma is the Supreme Consciousness (God) in whose image we are created as a droplet of a wave which is essentially the same as the ocean.

Mind - the mind can be divided into 4 parts:

The lower mind is the thinking mind. It is the mind that receives information through the sense organs, i.e. eyes, nose, ears, mouth and skin. All that you have seen, heard, smelt, touched and tasted is stored in you mind in the same way a computer stores information. When more information comes in it refers back to stored data and that determines how you will react to the new information. We act into the world through our organs of action, i.e. hands, feet, vocal chords, organs of elimination and reproduction. The world as we see it is the result of all the information and experiences you have had since the day you were born. In other words we are programmed in our likes, dislikes, beliefs, perceptions, prejudices and how we should behave. No two people see the world in the same way. Our perspective depends on our programming.

The memory mind contains all our fears, anxieties, phobias, habits, all our unfinished business which manifests as anger, hatred, depression, etc. as well as all the positive aspects of love, joy, compassion, caring. It contains unmanifest desires and attachments.

The ego is the part of the mind which is responsible for our feeling of separation. It creates the I, me and mine. It is the part that strives to be superior, to have more. It accumulates knowledge, possessions, skills to make it feel important. It fears not having enough. We identify with the ego as the Self but it is not - it pretends to be.

The higher mind is known as the Buddhi or intellect. It has nothing to do with being intellectual through the accumulation of knowledge. The intellect is the seat of creativity, intuition, inspiration and discernment. It cannot be accessed consciously. When we develop our ability to access the higher mind, we start to question what we have been programmed to believe. We start to recognise prejudices, beliefs and who we think we are and to question the truth of it.

Another aspect of mind is the collective consciousness of which Carl Jung spoke. It contains the blueprint of our past and all the knowledge of our ancestors and archetypes.

What is meditation? From the time we are born, we become aware of the world around us and project outwards. We become so identified with the world around us that we no longer experience the Self. We get caught up in gratifying the senses. During meditation we take our consciousness to different parts of the mind. We move away from intellectualising. When we start to meditate the consciousness is drawn to the lower mind, here it starts to clear out the unfinished business. We may experience this as thoughts moving across our mind or visions. You may be confronted with actual experiences or they may clear out easily and unnoticed. Once the lower mind is cleared, we begin to access the higher mind. (This is a very simplified version.)

The benefits of meditation far outweigh the experience in the beginning. You may have some very deep meditations and some where thoughts seem to be crowding your mind for the full 20 minutes. Even if the latter is the case, don't give up. What you will soon start to notice is that you deal with stress more peacefully, that life appears brighter. You experience more joy and happiness. Our attitude changes. When we clear out the accumulated fears, phobias, complexes, etc. we experience joy and peace in our everyday life. Our self image improves as does our relationship with our environment. As we change towards the world, the world changes towards us. Like attracts like, so as we become more positive, we attract more positive things into our lives. If we see the world as a fearful place it is because we have fear in our mind. If our world is loving, it is because we are loving. Christine and Howard - Founders of the Jivananda Centre


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