· We can validate our own meditation experiences upon ourselves
· Correct preparations have a very important place
· Expectations have little place at all
· The process of meditation is to grow from the gross towards the subtle, from the scattered towards the focussed, from the unrealised to the realised
· Side effects may be part of this healing and growing process
· The true aim of meditation is to help loosen the inner tensions, expose them, resolve them and not just wallpaper over them
· The results of proper meditation will eventually be higher energy, expanded con-sciousness, and discovery of your true nature, your true self.
So, if all this sounds like what you're after, then yoga and meditation may be for you. Yoga and meditation pre-suppose a need and sincere desire for change within oneself. If you don't want to change, then please do not take up yoga or meditation (or motherhood for that matter). You will only get a big surprise!
Often in books and classes, the different yoga practices are described as easy or difficult, simple or complex, elementary or advanced, gentle or powerful. And of course between these extremes there can be many sub-categories of description. But actually, rather than a technique having some intrinsic level of difficulty, such descriptions are really describing the relative condition and ability of the person approaching them. Yoga practices therefore represent a reflection of the student. If the student is flexible a posture will seem easy, if they are stiff, that same posture will seem hard. If they have a scattered mind, their meditation will seem difficult and frustrating, but when they are relaxed and focussed, that same practice will seem effortless.
I therefore find it is better to grade yoga practices according to the student's expertise in the Integral Yoga system rather than any inherent difficulty in a technique. To be truthful, the difficulty is within the student!
When first commencing Integral Yoga, everyone is a beginner, no matter
whether they are a world famous gymnast or a stiff old couch potato, a professor of comparative theologies or an illiterate. Each person comes to yoga with a different attitude to themselves, to what they want out of it and to how they will achieve their goals. This therefore affects their experience. Some like to proceed slowly and others like to rush ahead. It is therefore always safest and most beneficial that everyone starts at the beginning and then progresses according to their own needs and abilities, rather than starting somewhere "up the ladder" according to what they have previously done or where they think they are at.
All of the practices included in Chapter 10 have been divided into just two levels - beginners and experienced, marked (B) and (E) respectively. These delineations are not arbitrary nor inclusive of all yoga schools. They mean that, even if you have done some yoga before, somewhere else - if you are not familiar with the practice you are looking at - then you are a beginner to it. You should therefore perform that technique as described until such time as you are comfortable with it. Then you are "experienced" in it and are ready to progress onto other techniques which are dependent on it. For example, a student who may well have experience in the strict Iyengar system of whole body asanas would best be served by starting with the basic asanas of the Integral Yoga system - even though they may seem elementary. They may also not know Nadi Shodhan Pranayama as we practise it, and therefore they should start right back at the basics of all pranayama techniques in the beginners section.
Very often it happens that a yoga student's abilities in one area far outstrip their abilities in another. According to the Integral Yoga philosophy, this is to be avoided and should be remedied whenever encountered. For example, I often encounter students who have done years of New Age meditation but no cleansing, asanas or pranayamas. I also meet many others who have done years of Hatha Yoga asanas and some basic pranayama but never any Mantra Japa or Yoga Nidra. The overall design of the Integral Yoga system is to round-out and balance the personality, and it is for these reasons that I recommend all readers start with the beginners material and proceed in a balanced, systematic and integrated way. And through this approach, eventually everything will become more and more easy - as you become less and less difficult!