Now we’re exploring the fourth level and second largest kosha or layer of self – vijanamaya kosha.
The fourth kosha is where we go a little deeper into the subconscious mind with meditation and begin to transcend the ego, where one is said to be resting within oneself.
What’s beyond the ego you might wonder? Once you have moved beyond the mind chatter, there exists your true self; peaceful, joyful, playful and free of habits, even if only experienced for a few moments at a time. It’s in these moments of stillness that you receive insights, messages and clarity from your inner teacher.
It’s common that this area is not very well developed in many people. Think of your yoga and meditation practice as your internal education, compared to your external education where you go to school, get a diploma or degree then go off to work. The more you go within, the more you may be able to step outside of yourself and recognize your patterns, as if you are observing your mind and yourself from outside of your body and ego. If this sounds new to you, you may want to take a step back and practice meditation to experience pratyahara, which is the start of the process of going within.
Try these exercises:
To add variety or deepen your meditation practice, there are various techniques; one is to be a witness to your thoughts by meditating without an object – there’s a guided meditation available here.
Another is trataka (candle gazing); using a candle and eye exercises as a meditation technique. This practice is beneficial for strengthening your eyes, quieting the mind and stimulating ajna chakra (your third eye or intuitive centre).
1.Setup your space by lighting a candle that will sit just below or near eye level and approximately 1-2 feet in front of you when you are in a seated meditation pose.
2. Perform eye exercises: close your eyes really tight for a few seconds then open wide (repeat 5-10 times), then roll your eyes clockwise then counter clockwise approximately 6-7 times each direction. You may roll the eyes or look up/down/left/right and repeat 6-7 times.
3. Fix your gaze upon the flame and try not to blink. This may feel strange at first and you will feel the urge to blink. Try to resist blinking as long as there is no major discomfort or pain in the eyes. If you blink then fix your gaze on the candle again. This will get easier over time and with practice.
4. After a few repetitions of fixing your gaze, you will notice you are able to focus a bit longer and your eyes may water – this is normal. Continue for as long as is comfortable. If you are a beginner this might be 2-3 minutes or up to 20 or 30 minutes for more advanced practices.
5. When you feel you have had enough then blow the candle out and close your eyes and allow yourself to go deeper into meditation. Be an observer of your thoughts and notice what arises.
Repeating this practice builds and strengthens your intuitive awareness and you may notice you are being guided towards certain decisions or receiving answers to questions that previously had you thinking too much. Perhaps write down your observations in a journal to see what has been showing up as a result of this practice.