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Patanjali Yoga Sutra

Tatra Pratyayaikatanata Dhyanam

Sakshi Bhava, The method of 'Witnessing' - key to meditation

Once Ram Lal and Shyam Kumar were enjoying their morning cup of tea watching the queue of woman folk filling their vessels from a public tap.

Suddenly, to their amusement, they found some of the woman quarreling over a petty matter. Ram Lal started making fun of their nature but soon turned serious when he found his own wife also getting involved in the matter.

As long as Ram Lai was just a witness to the whole affair uninvolved, he was happy. The moment his wife came to thescene, he got involved and his miseries started. Same is true in all the situations of life. Can we become a witness and look at our problems objectively, look at the whole world as a sakshi, a witness? Then we will be free from many of our difficulties. According to a great philosopher, if one can 'watch' one's anger with awareness it disappears.

Sakshi Bhava is an age old way of witnessing one's own mind and, thus slowly transcending it. As it is our mind in a very tricky fellow. So, to begin with, we can watch something gross, say, our breathing. Just sitting quite, comfortably, and being a Sakshi to the air that goes in and comes out of our system.

Sit with eye closed on floor or on chair, preferably in a morning or an evening. Observe how the cool air touches the nostrils, passes through the throat andenters the lungs during inhalation and how the warm air comes out through the same route during exhalation. Try to trace the path of breathing without getting involved. That is, don'tinterfere with the breathing by consciously inhaling or exhaling. Let the breathing take place in a natural way and you just watch. This habit of watch the breathing will enable us to watch our mind and then to witness the Life around while we get established, slowly, in Sakshi Bhava and Udasin Bhava (detached state).

This watching of breathing is, perhaps, the first step of the famous Buddhistic meditation - Vipassana -popularized in modern times by the ex- industrialist Sri S N Goenka who got wonderful benefits. (relief from chronic and severe migraine etc) from this method.

Cyclic Meditation devised by the Kendra, where a participant is asked to be a witness to all the changes within, helps in developing Sakshi Bhava.

Another simple way to learn objective watching is just to lie down on the back and be a witness to the movement of one's abdomen that is caused by breathing. This simple experiment will tell us how difficult it is to be objective and not get lost in the world.

This article appears in the Yoga Magazine, Yoga Sudha May, 1996 edition. This article has been published courtesy www.yogasudha.com

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