Daily Magic Practices II
At the time that I originally wrote this article, there was only a very small number of truly devoted aspirants seeking spiritual progress. The rest were in it for intellectual theory, and not a great deal else. Likewise, the community was more interest in traditional western exercises, and so I provided some unique variations of traditional Golden Dawn and Rosicrucian techniques for people to safely practice, and be able to see some real progress. In this past year, however, I have been pleasantly surprised by an overwhelming number of requests for a deeper level of practice that can guarantee fuller development for someone who is more seriously inclined towards his spiritual path. I have been guiding these people on a mostly person-to-person basis, but since the demand has grown beyond my capacity to supply with the amount of time I have available to me, I have resolved to publish a truly sound and progressive daily spiritual practice for those who desire to take their dedication to the next level.
Those of you who have a legitimate teacher and guide along the path already should only alter your daily practice with his or her permission. I provide this as a positive suggestion to jump start your spiritual progress, but it is all very general. Your instructor, if he is a good and properly trained one, will know what you should and should not be practicing much better than you could know. For some people it may be allowed to practice japa but not yet pranayama, or perhaps to practice thought control and body control but not yet implement daily devotion. These will all depend on your inner character, which will be discerned by any good teacher, and so you must always consider his advice. In general, however, what I will give here shall suffice for most people, should they be able to dedicate themselves to it.
I have said often to my students and to those who come to me that inaction and inconsistency are two lethal poisons to the pursuit of magical attainment. Someone who desires to be a magician can not be content with mere philosophical inquiry and speculation. He must put his mind to work and cultivate his soul, which can only be done in the fires of rigorous practice. The world has no use for people who simply put forth ideas quietly but never make anything of them; it is as if they were dead. All the good intentions of the world can not make you a magician. A good person, perhaps, but not a good magician. The undisciplined mind must be forced into a habit of regular practice until the practice itself becomes enjoyable, and then real progress is seen.
Do not allow your mind, as weak as it often is, to convince you of some excuse to not practice. There is no one who can not practice, and there is no legitimate reason not to. Even ten minutes a day, if done with consistency, will allow for good progress. You are not too busy! Do not listen to the excuses of your lower self, but fight them vehemently. I am a very busy person. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday my work day starts at about 6:45 AM and ends at about 10:00 PM. Tuesday and Thursday I work at least eight hours. In addition to this I have a daily physical exercise routine to maintain in order to be continually effective in the martial arts, I have a group of personal students who often need my attention and direction, I am writing three books and several hundreds of pages of material for organized lectures later on, I try to keep up to date with the five or six Emails I receive from people every day here at Veritas, and in spite of all of this I maintain at least two hours of daily magic practice. If I with my schedule can accomplish two hours, then I am forced to believe that everyone can accomplish at least twenty or thirty minutes. The problem is not your schedule, but instead, it is your ability to properly prioritize. If you are going to seriously pursue a spiritual path, then you must be able to prioritize activities in your life accordingly. This article is for people who are seriously pursuing magic, as opposed to those who simply dabble in it. The former will find a good practice system herein, but the latter will never be able to summon the willpower and consistency in practice to achieve notable results.
Patience is a great test, and one of the favorite tools which the universe uses to try your devotion in the flames of spiritual practice. Remember to always persevere if you do not see progress at first. It is not given to all of us to advance quickly, but with patience and consistent practice, everyone can advance. Starting the day spiritually
To the devoted magician, arising at the latest time possible, or "sleeping in," should be offered up in the flames of sacrifice. In order to regularly secure the proper frame of mind, to check constantly his devotion to his path, and to reap the maximum benefits, he must establish a habit of rising early. Habit-breaking and habit-making are two key components in mastering one's mind.
The Zohar tells us thusly in the Noach Zohar, verse 277,
"When a person gets up to study Torah in the middle of the night, when the northern wind awakes, The Holy One, Blessed be He, enters the Garden of Eden and enjoys Himself with the righteous. And He, together with the righteous, listens to the words which come from such a manís mouth
Again we find in the Torah, in Yeshaya 26:9,
"With my spirit (Heb. Nephesh) I have desired you in the night; with my soul (Heb. Ruach) within me will I seek you early
From these two verses alone we can derive that the ideal situation is for the astral body (the Nephesh) to be projected during the night under conscious control, so that the individual may continue his studies and practices even while sleeping, and for the individual himself to arise early in the morning. He who does so is seen as greatly revered and becomes highly rewarded.
In Yoga, there is also a highly favored practice where one awakes during the Brahmamuhurta (hours of brahman). During this time the energy of the atmosphere is very calm, allowing the aura of one who is in meditation to more easily calm itself also, and therefore the mind. Meditation is therefore very favorable during this time. Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati writes thus about it:
"At this particular hour, the mind is very calm and serene. It is free from worldly thoughts, worries and anxieties. The mind is like a blank sheet of paper and comparatively free from worldly Samskaras. It can be very easily molded at this time before worldly distractions enter the mind. Further, the atmosphere also is charged with more Sattva at this particular time
The aspiring magician who can rouse himself at 4:00 every morning and practice for at least an hour will see phenomenal results, and shall advance very quickly. His peers on the spiritual path will not be able to understand how he can progress so easily through the many steps of spiritual evolution. Admittedly, however, this is not possible for all people. If for example your job requires that you are awake late at night, being essentially any time after 10:00 PM, then this will be very hard for you to do. It is better in that instance to wait until later during the day or the evening to practice so that you do not fall asleep during meditation. For those who are able to get up that early, then if they can conjure the willpower to, they will almost immediately notice the benefits of doing so. After seeing the results, they will probably never want to wake up later than the Brahmamuhurta again.
To begin your day with spiritual practice is a perfect beginning. Your mind is clear for your work day, or in some cases for those who are younger, the school day also. Your energies are controlled, and your consciousness is centered. The activities of the day do not disturb you as much, and it is easier to keep a spiritual mindset no matter what situations you may find yourself in. Because your will be starting your day with an elevated level of consciousness, you will be able to more clearly observe the animal impulses in other people, and how the illusions of the senses bind the actions of most individuals. From this scientific observation you will grow greatly in your understanding of the animal self and the real self, and obtain the knowledge of their difference. This will encourage a more constant spiritual point of view in your entire life. When you return home after your daily obligations and have some free time again, it will be easier to sit down and get back to your spiritual practices, should you choose to. Proper Hygiene
As a hopeful magician, you should engage in what a magician would call the proper practices of hygiene and cleanliness in all aspects of your life. To be clean is to be organized, but physical cleanliness is not always the subject. Spiritual cleanliness can be thrown into regular daily practices of hygiene in order to achieve maximum effects and help enhance the rate of your progress.
The aspirant should ensure that he showers every day. If he is diligent then he will bathe in the morning hours before his early spiritual exercises during the brahmamuhurta. When he bathes, he will not place his mind on his physical body. Instead he will detach his mind and focus on his spiritual self and his astral body, letting the physical hands do what they are accustomed to doing. When the water flows over him, he will imagine that the dirt on his spiritual bodies flows off with it. He should visualize that his skin is the crystallization of this dirt, with its diseases of death and sorrow, and that the skin is being washed off with the water as he scrubs. Beneath that skin is a fluid-like glass, which he should know is the astral body. As the water runs over him and he washes himself, he should see that he is polishing this glass. As he polishes it and cleans it, a bright white light begins to shine through it. The aspirant will advance in this way over his entire body every morning, until by the end of the bath he visualizes himself as a being of pure white light. This in an excellent way to start the morning. When he dries off, he should sit immediately and begin japa to further purify his mind also, which we shall discuss momentarily.
During the bathing, the aspirant should in a trancelike state. His mind is not at all focused on his physical body, and the bathing actions of his hands and arms are acting totally automatically. His focus is absorbed entirely into his mind, where all of his concentrative power is being directed at these visualizations. He should be almost entirely unaware of what his physical body is doing, or of what the water feels like, how hot or cold it is, how hard or soft. His mind is entirely focused on his visualizations. As the aspirant's power of focus grows, the healing and cleansing effects of this practice shall grow also.
The aspirant should take to the routine of washing his hands often. Whenever he handles something that is considered unclean, and most especially if he uses his hands to commit a sin (such as masturbation), he should spend about a minute cleaning his hands. He should visualize that the magnetic power of the water is not only pulling off the impurity from his hands, but is actually magnetically pulling out the impurities of his body also. He should see the impurities and negative energies as running off his hands with the running water, down into the drain where they are forever gone to his mind. It helps towards the end to cup your hands and gather water in them, and then focus especially on the water pulling out the impurities of your hands and your body, and then letting the water pour out. When finished, dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel.
For spiritual practices, the aspirant should wear either fresh and clean clothes that are soft and easy to practice in, or he should wear a clean set of clothes used especially for practices, and which he keeps apart from the rest of his clothes and wears only when he practices. If he can do the latter, then he will appreciate the benefits. Practicing Japa
Japa is the repetition of a mantra. There are many mantras available for this practice, and the student should always chose one that lends itself most easily to his own beliefs and convictions. For example if you are of a Jewish or Christian persuasion, then it would not be wise to chant a Hindu mantra. Instead you could chant one of the Qaballistic names of God, a special verse in Hebrew or Aramaic, or YHShVH.
The practice of Japa is the single most effective exercise, I am convinced, for the cleansing of the mind. When the daily activities of life spoil the consciousness, and various sins infect the mind and fester within it, then Japa is the most beautiful panacea available. It is a true gift, a real gem. It is said traditionally that the man who spends his entire life without doing japa has wasted a life, and upon its practice I believe that anyone would come to this conclusion. It leaves the mind totally exalted when done correctly, and conjures up all available mental power for later activities. Because total focus on a single statement and its meaning is had for a long period of time, the mind becomes very quiet, and the mental energy is gathered together instead of being dispersed one hundred directions by one hundred different thoughts. The magician shall find that if he performs japa before his magical exercises, then they shall go much smoother. For that matter if one performs Japa before any undertaking, then the undertaking seems to become easier. When done upon God, divine energy infuses the mind while the attention is drawn magnetically to Deity. When done often and with great devotion, the magician will begin to transmute his mind into his depiction of God Himself. He will begin to take on the qualities of God. By itself Japa can lead to Samadhi; when done with other exercises, Japa helps the attainment of Godhead immensely.
Before the magician establishes a Japa routine, he should have a japa mala. A mala is a string of beads which he can use to count, and which traditionally has 108 beads tied onto it (reminiscent of the 108 names of Shiva, Durga, Krsna, etc). Having a japa mala allows the mind of the individual to be focused entirely on the mantra instead of having to worry about keeping count. Such malas can be purchased at various stores or online shops, or one can make a mala himself. The choice is entirely the individual's.
In the morning, Japa should be the first practice undergone. In the evening, it should be the last. When you have performed your morning bathing ritual and have dried off, then dress very comfortably (or remain naked) and sit down to do Japa. During Japa you must be entirely focused on either the meaning or the target of the mantra. For example if doing the Gayatri mantra, you can be focused on the meaning of divinity and its splendor. When doing Japa with a name of God, then the image and qualities of God should be held firmly in your mind during the procedure. It is concentration upon the meanings and feelings of the mantras which purify the mind; simply speaking them will not accomplish much, though they often have at least some power of their own. "Perfect Japa" is done in a state of complete devotion and surrender to God, wherein the boundaries of the mind melts, and you feel as if it is the entire universe speaking the mantra within you, instead of just you speaking it.
Japa should be done at least 108 times. For a busy person, 108 times twice a day, meaning 108 in the morning and then another 108 before bed, is a good target. This is especially good for the average individual, who tends to be lazy and neglectful of daily practice. Even just these two sessions will test the beginner's patience and check his anxiety. In the beginning Japa should not be done while simultaneously doing something else. For example, do not do Japa while doing the dishes. At first it is best to sit down and do Japa only, when all of your attention, so that you can begin to destroy anxiety and impatience in practice. Japa is an excellent tool for the beginner who can not yet bring himself to meditate for hours on end. A gradually extending practice of Japa will push his meditative abilities further and further. If you can not even bring yourself to sit in one place and focus for five minutes in the beginning and end of the day, what hope is there for you as a magician? How can you ever expect to stand in the presence of powerful spirits, of mighty angels and archangels? How can you expect to accomplish even the most menial of tasks in the world of magical practice? People who have fantasies of clairvoyance, telekinesis, clairaudience, and elemental mastery hanging in their minds can forget all possibilities of attainment if they can not just do a little bit of Japa.
People who are going to be successful, and who desire to become magicians in this life instead of taking many lifetimes, will push at the boundaries of their practice. They will seek to perform 1080 (ten malas) repetitions of the mantra in the morning, and then another 1080 in the evening. A person who can do this while continuously maintaining concentration on the purpose and meaning of the mantra loosen the grips of sin and karma. Their minds become filled with God after much practice, and they can not help but act saintly. Instead of having music, emotions, desires, discussions, world situations, social problems, etc, buzzing around in their subconscious minds, they shall have the sweet hum of the mantra always in the back of their minds. After practicing this for a deal of time, there will be no magical operation which he can not be guaranteed eventual success in. Progress will come to him very quickly, and he will even obtain some magical abilities without trying. Because he purifies his mental body every morning and every night, it will be very hard for sin to sink into his being, and so he will free himself from a great deal of karma and will always be clean. There is of course no limit on how much Japa you can perform, so practice it often.
Japa can roughly be split into two groups: mantra japa and namah japa. In mantra japa a particular whole mantra, whether it be from scripture or a simple statement thought of by one's self, is repeated again and again. A very commonly used mantra is the Gayatri mantra, which goes as such:
"OM bhur bhuva svah
tat savitur varenyam
bargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo nah prachodayat
The rough English translation of the Gayatri mantra is,
"O God, Thou art the giver of life, the remover of pain and sorrow, the bestower of happiness; O Creator of the Universe, may we receive Thy supreme sin-destroying light; may Thou guide our intellect in the right direction
Though the English translations can work in so far as the intent being the same, the most advantageous use of a mantra is always in its original language. Each language has a certain tone to it, a marked and unique vibration, which stamps each statement in a particular way. A mantra recited in a foreign tongue is never as effective as when it is spoken in its native tongue, so long as the speaker knows its meaning.
Namah Japa is, in my eyes, the highest japa. It is the repetition of the Name of God, done many times, so that one's mind becomes entirely filled with the qualities and images of God. Great progress is made spiritually as the aspirant becomes absorbed by God. Constant namah japa makes his mind a sponge which absorbs holy power and divine authority, so that little by little his mental body actually becomes connected to divinity. It is said that whoever performs namah japa regularly on the same God will begin to become that God, and this is certainly true. His character will be sublimated and perfected by the character of his Deity, and he shall become a divine personage. This practice, coupled with intense magical practice bent on achieving Godhood and spiritual perfection, will allow the magician to make great strides in a single lifetime.
There are many different mantras available for namah Japa, but the one which perhaps has the most scriptural weight belongs to Shiva. In the Shiva Purana it is glorified more than any other mantra in any other scripture. Because Shiva in His form as Rudra is seen as the perfect yogi and highest magician, it is very common for spiritual seekers of God to adopt this mantra so that they may fit those descriptions also. Shiva is depicted as being in Samadhi, and so by becoming Shiva, one also enters into Samadhi quickly. The mantra is simple: "Om Namah Shivaya." It means roughly "I surrender to Shiva."
It is called the five-syllable mantra, and is the pentagrammaton of Hinduism. The initial "Om" is not counted as one of the five syllables, but instead represents God before He became active in the universe. To the Qaballists, it is God as Ain, Ain Soph, and Ain Soph Aur while still on the other side of the negative veils of existence; God before He created Kether. From the "Om" emerges the "Namah Shivaya," the five syllables which symbolize the five heads of Shiva and total mastery over the five elements. It also represents the analogy of the entire outer world being sustained by the five elements (fire, air, water, earth, and Akasha) as Namah Shivaya, and the entire inner world being sustained by pure consciousness as Om. The mantra is pronounced phonetically as either "nah-mah shee-vai-yah" or "nah-mah-hah shee-vai" depending on which dialect it is being spoken in. Either one works perfectly and represents the same principal meaning, and so the aspirant should choose whichever one rolls off the tongue easier for him if he decides to do Namah Japa on Shiva using the pentagrammaton. During the repetition of the mantra, Shiva should be visualized strongly with His traditionally associated symbolism, and the aspirant should focus intently on the ideas of Samadhi, bliss, detachment, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, and infinity.
Another powerful mantra for namah japa is the pentagrammaton of the Western world: YHShVH. Here also the five elements are represented. The Y represents fire, the first H represents water, the Sh represents the Akasha, the V represents air, and the final H represents Earth. This is a Hebrew formula and has very powerful Qaballistic significance. It is perhaps most powerful when spoken as "Yod Heh Shin Vau Heh" due to the analogy present in the five syllables, but can also be spoken as "Yehoshuah." This magical formula is depicted by Jesus Christ, as it is the formula for His first name. If the student decides upon this pentagrammaton for his namah japa then he should strongly visualize Christ as He is described in the book of Revelations, or he should focus upon major events in His Gospel. Meditation upon the intense passion which He exhibited during His crucifixion can have great effects. During the visualization and meditation, he should focus intently on the ideas of love, compassion, mercy, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, and infinity.
No matter which aspect of God is being concentrated upon for the purpose of namah japa, no matter if you are concentrating on God as Shiva, Odin, Ra, Kephera, Jesus Christ, Yehovah, Vishnu, Brahma, etc, the four qualities which must always accompany the rest of that personality's qualities are omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, and infinity. The other qualities will change in accordance to God's qualities as that form. This keeps the visualization correct from the magical perspective of elemental equilibrium, and will establish a habit that will help greatly in higher stages of initiation.
Other powerful mantras can be YHVH, Sah-tah-nah-ma (the Satnam mantra), the Mahamantra (Hare Ksna, Hare Krsna, etc...), and any other meditation upon God's name that you can find. Body Control
The practice of body control is very important to the magician, as its exerts his mental dominance over into his immediate physical domain. If you can not sit still, it is hard to still your mind. If you can not still your mind, then all magic becomes very difficult. Thus one of the first places to start your practices alongside japa is the practice of Asana, or in essence, of sitting.
Assume a posture which you would like to use as your meditation posture. This can be Siddhasana, Padmasana, sitting cross-legged, or sitting with your back straight in a chair, these being the most common choices. In all cases your back should be as straight as is possible, your chin should be lifted, your breathing should be entirely controlled, and your body should be still. Hold that posture first for five minutes, and concentrate entirely upon the body. Try to feel every inch of your flesh. Feel every possible disturbance, including even the very hair on your arms and head. Focus on every itch, every twitch, and overcome it. Remain totally still, with only your breath being the source of some chest movement. When you can do this for five minutes without feeling the desire to get up and do something else, or without your thoughts wandering, then extend the practice to ten minutes a day. Some will need to practice longer, and you should be your own judge if you do not have the guidance of a teacher. Never hesitate to practice as much as you need to, or as often as your teacher tells you that you must. For most people, ten minutes twice a day shall suffice for steady progress with a busy daily schedule.
Overcoming the obstacles of the body is a great stride towards being able to accomplish meditation. When you can completely still the body it becomes calm and cool, and the internal energy called the prana flows smoothly through the energy channels of the body. Because tension is released and the mind becomes calm, all blocks in your internal energy circuits are removed. Though at first the practice may be hard and cause you to feel uncomfortable, it must be persisted in until you can feel completely comfortable, even somewhat blissful, in your asana. After ten minutes of practice you should not even want to move any longer. It should feel like you are inside a warm shell, but are not the shell itself. When this can be achieved, you are making good progress and should advance at the discretion of a teacher or with your best unbias judgment.
When you can control the physical body in the above manner, then you may be instructed in the performance of certain physical asanas. These are best learned by a teacher who can perform them, because proper form and technique are very important. Many asanas, by virtue of a profound knowledge of the internal energy system, force certain movements of the prana that are advantageous to spiritual evolution and health. They can bestow mental clarity, astral purity, and physical health in great abundance. Some of them even work towards awakening the Kundalini, and can greatly aid in the achievement of Samadhi. As in the simple form of body control practice, the asana should be performed with total control over every inch of one's body. Nothing can be unaccounted for or allowed to slack. During physical asana practice, which belongs to the practice of hatha yoga, the mind flows out into the muscles and controls the flow of internal energy. The entirety of one's concentration will rest either upon the exact physical posture, the flow of internal prana, or a certain mantra.
Though each posture offers a different benefit, the ultimate goal of an entire asana routine is to balance the electric with the magnetic, or the solar with the lunar. This causes the mind to become still and the aura to become balanced and healthy. Someone who actively practices physical asanas is a beam of health. His has a sort of glow to it, and he will maintain his youth long into late years. Often times even if he is sixty years old, he would look to be in his late thirties or early forties.
Immediately after japa, the aspirant should spend about twenty minutes stretching his legs, arms, and most especially his spine (front bends) and lungs (back bends). When he has loosened up and blood is again flowing equally through his body, then he can begin the practice of asanas. This will wake him up, and ready him for the day in the morning. When the student performs his night practices, he will perform body control first, and then do japa. Thought Control
Thought control is a great practice, and should be performed either immediately before or immediately following Japa. Much like Japa, thought control allows the student to quiet his mind so that his mental energy is available for what he desires instead of being thrown in many different directions. When the student can control his mind, and only then, can practical magic start to seem realistic.
The first stage of thought control requires that the student becomes a passive observer in his own mind. He practices detachment, and watches his thoughts pass by in his mind without any sort of involvement in them. They will disappear without any interest as quickly as they arose in his mind. This skill takes some practice, but after trying a few times the student will get the grip of how to do this. After some practice he will notice that the thoughts will begin to slow down, and that their numbers will gradually decrease. By not being attached to the thoughts, he has managed to reduce their number. If he practices at least ten minutes a session, once at morning and once at night, then after a few weeks he will gain success in clearing his mind. One day during practice he will simply observe that there are no more thoughts coming into his mind. This can be seen as the first level of success, wherein he has learned mental relaxation.
The second stage requires that the student can hold on to a single intended thought for a length of time. He will strongly fight back and dissolve any thoughts other than the one which he is trying to focus on. This will be very hard at first, and the mind will want to wander and think about other things. The student must persevere, and he will discover that with regular practice he becomes capable blocking out all thoughts besides the one which he desires to focus fully on. When this is achieved, then magic begins to become possible in the future. This is called learning mental concentration.
In the third stage of thought control, the student empties his mind entirely. He then passively focuses on a subject and its meaning, allowing his consciousness to form a rapport with the subject of his intention. At first this connection will be weak, but with much practice over a long period of time it shall becomes strong, and the magician will develop a flow of consciousness with it. When that happens, he shall feel like he is a part of the thing, and that the thing is a part of him. Union occurs with patient practice. The same mechanism found here eventually allows for Samadhi, which occurs when the subject of the meditation is God, and then an unbroken flow of consciousness is established between God and the magician. It takes much practice to obtain, and must be complimented by many other practices along the way in order to not take many lifetimes. When the connection of consciousness occurs, it is called meditation. When that connection finally occurs fully with God, it is called Samadhi or Union.
Thus, there are three essential stages of thought control:
Only after mastering relaxation and concentration can one actually meditate. By regular practice of relaxation, the student gradually enhances the amount of mental power available to him. By the practice of concentration, he increases the amount of mental power that he can effectively use. Once after practicing relaxation he has increased the amount of mental available greatly, and through concentration has learned how to use it all, then he can direct that mental power to accomplish a state of meditation. This is the order of progress. Pranayama
Pranayama is the control (yama) of the breath (prana), for controlling the breath means the control of the internal energy that is called prana, and in the West is often called the life force. In all cases it is good for the beginning aspirant to start japa and thought control, and also body control, but it is not always proper to begin pranayama. Some people can start practicing it almost from the very beginning, whereas some people must wait until they have advanced in other practices before they can begin it. If you do not have a teacher, then your own personal discretion should be used. If you have problems controlling your attention and the flow of your thoughts, then you should not yet perform pranayama.
Pranayama, depending on which exercise is being performed, accomplishes many things. It is the most effective tool for awakening the Kundalini and purifying the internal energy passages (nadis) as well as the internal energy centers (chakras). It enlivens the astral body with powerful energy and strengthens the aura greatly. When the energy flows serenely through the nadis the it can be withdrawn into the spine during deep meditation. This causes the prana to become still, which silences the mind simultaneously. Regular practice of pranayama destroys wordly desires and attachments by attaching the mind to divine things. The student becomes a true dynamo of internal power, and so his power over the world around him greatly increases. Some magical powers are developed automatically as the result of regular pranayama. Pranayama allows the solar and lunar energies to balance one another in the pit of the stomach, so that their flow becomes canceled. When the flow of the upwards (respiratory) and downwards (excretory) energies go into one another and become canceled, then the prana is drawn into the spine and breathing ceases. This is called the Kevalia Kumbhaka, and can lead into Samadhi. When the breathing totally stops, sometimes for hours at a time, then the mind is absolutely still. This allows the soul to flow through into the mind, and the ego-personality achieves union with the soul-personality. Someone who is in this state of being looks on the outside as if they are dead. He is not breathing, his pulse is so feint as to be undetectable by most tools, he becomes cold to the touch, and his skin becomes pale. This happens because the life force is withdrawn into the spine and then the brain. If the top of the head is touched, it is usually discovered to be almost burning hot. When the kevalia kumbhaka ceases and the individual breathes again, then color and other signs of life return as usual.
One very effective pranayama which most can practice safely is called sukha purvaka. It is performed as such:
Sit in your meditative asana. Place the thumb of the right hand against the right nostril, closing it, so that you can only breath through your left nostril. Inhale for three seconds through the left nostril. Release the right nostril and push in the left nostril using the ring finger of the right hand while holding the breath, so that the right nostril is open. Visualize that your breath, filled with energy, flows in through the left nostril and fills your entire body with pure white light. Hold your breath for twelve seconds, thinking to yourself, "I am God." Focus on containing within yourself all the qualities of God as pure divinity. Now exhale out of the right nostril, letting the light flow out through the exhalation, taking everything that is not God with it. Still holding the left nostril shut, do the same thing with the right nostril. Inhale for three seconds, hold and contemplate for twelve, then release the left nostril and close the right nostril with the thumb, exhaling for six seconds out of the left nostril. This constitutes one repetition. Perform this ten times in the morning and ten times in the evening.
This is one of four major variations of sukha purvaka, and is the most suitable for someone who is new to pranayama in my opinion. Other variations focus on balancing out the internal tattvas, alternating a current between the solar and lunar disks within the body, and striking the Kundalini within the muladhara, which are all more advanced. When this first level of pranayama can be performed well enough to generate a feeling of pure and relaxed bliss and concentration, then the student can advance to higher techniques at the discretion of a teacher. Living the Path
None of these practices amount to anything if you throw out all of your progress every time you have the opportunity. You can spend great lengths of time in meditation every day, but if you engage in sinful activities and indulge your lower lusts and desires every day, if you keep bad company, use drugs, masturbate, get drunk, etc, then your progress shall be incredibly slow. Sometimes you may not even advance at all, in spite of your best efforts. The simple fact of the matter is that you can not advance far in this path without the proper lifestyle changes.
People often say to me, "but this is my way," or "I walk my own path." This is foolishness, and it often leads directly to failure. No matter what you may identify to be your "way," the simple fact of the matter is that you will never finish a project which you completely destroy every day that you work on it. This is not even a matter of occult metaphysics or spiritual principles: it is a matter of common sense. If you intend to pursue a spiritual path seriously, then I have provided the tools in this article to have an incredible kick-start to your journey. However, they can only be used properly in conjunction with the proper lifestyle and living habits in general. The path of a beginner is a very frail one. His mind is not yet trained to resist powerful temptations, nor is his aura strong enough to naturally throw off negative energies. He is very impressionable, even if he does not think so. The intelligent student who wants to see success in his practices will know these things about himself, and will take precautions to make sure he does not fail. These are some invaluable pieces of advice for the lifestyle that the beginner should try to maintain in order to see maximum progress:
- Have a balanced diet consisting of no red meat and many fruits, fruit juices, and milk.
- One should avoid foods that over-excite you and your senses.
- Avoid the company of sinful, wordly-minded people whenever possible.
- Do not drink alcohol recreationally or socially, through a few drinks a week are fine.
- Totally avoid all narcotics and the people who use them. Drug use is not conducive to spiritual advancement.
- Do not spend a great deal of time listening to music. It will play in the background of your mind and distract your practices.
- Do not be overly sexual. Sexual activity twice a month is considered a safe maximum that allows spiritual progress to go mostly unhampered, presuming it is performed as an expression of love. Masturbation is strictly forbidden for someone who wants real success. Celibacy is always the most effective choice when it is realistic.
- If you are a particularly sexual-minded person, then avoid the company of the opposite sex.
- Do not watch, read, or listen to things of a negative nature.
- Decorate your house, or at least your room, with things that remind you of spirituality and of God.
- Burn incense regularly to keep your path on your mind.
- Read scriptures some every day.
- Develop a strict routine for your spiritual practices and stick to it without wavering.
Many of the "rules" for one's lifestyle change somewhat as you advance and are no longer as receptive to negative influences. Even still, though, one should choose to avoid things of a negative and destructive nature, and to engage himself in holier activities if he desires to see real progress in the divine science.