Kriya Pranayama & Samadhi

The Purpose of Yoga

According to Maharishi Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, the purpose of Yoga is “the restraint of the vritti of chitta.”

Chitta is the mind or the “mind-field” or “mind-pool.”

Vritti are thought ripples or “mind-modifications.”

Chit, on the other hand, means pure Consciousness—it is who or what we really are, instead of the “I-ego” we take ourselves to be, which is only the reflected light. In Yoga, we realize that our consciousness is pure, without the need for any adjunct (body, life-force, mind, or intellect).

Maharishi Patanjali basically says the complete restraint of mental activity/modifications is Yoga. The main vritti we have to restrain or dissolve is the aham-vritti, which is the thought “I.” When the reflected light of consciousness (“I-ego”/thought “I”) gets dissolved, either temporarily or permanently, the Infinite Consciousness will be “experienced” or self-recognized. That and only that is Samadhi, the purpose of Yoga.

Patanjali had the following “formula” to achieve Samadhi (preceded by Yamas, Niyamas, and Asana):

Pratyahara is the disidentification of our attention from various external impressions. This refers to disengaging from the physical senses.

Dharana is concentration or an attempt or effort at steady concentration or focus. Our “I” tries to concentrate on an object in our own mind.

Dharana is the confining of the mind within a limited mental area (Object of concentration).

– Maharishi Patanjali, The Yoga Sutras

Dhyana: Our “I” is continuously focused on the object of meditation.

Dhyana is like Dharana, but the concentration is unbroken and steady. You are undividedly focused on your object of meditation. Dhyana is what opens the doors to Samadhi; it is what distinguishes intermediate practitioners from beginners.

Seekers who have meditated for some time may have experienced Dhyana, which is usually translated as Meditation. In this state, there is only you and the object of meditation. Various visions, insights, joys, and experiences may emerge from this state (and can also sometimes disrupt it). It is a transparent and clear state—there is nothing fuzzy or faint about it. It’s a prelude to Samadhi.

An unbroken flow of awareness to that object is Dhyana.

– Maharishi Patanjali, The Yoga Sutras

Samadhi is usually translated as “absorption” or as a higher state of consciousness. In it, we forget about our body, mind, ego, and merge into the object of meditation.

When, in meditation, the true nature of the object shines forth,
not distorted by the mind of the perceiver, that is Samadhi.

– Maharishi Patanjali, The Yoga Sutras

The relationship between Kriya Pranayama and Samadhi

You may notice that the first phase of the formula says “Pranayama.” Pranayama is typically used to induce the introversion of the senses (Pratyahara). However, In Kriya Yoga, Kriya Pranayama is such a powerful technique that it can induce sensory introversion (Pratyahara), concentration (Dharana), and meditation (Dhyana). In Dhyana, we reach Parvastha (The After-Kriya State), the gateway toward Samadhi. That’s one of the major reasons why Kriya Yoga is such an effective practice! Kriya Pranayama takes us all the way to the bliss experienced in Dhyana, which then takes us to Samadhi.

Patanjali refers a second time to the life−control or KRIYA technique thus:
“Liberation can be accomplished by that PRANAYAMA which is attained by
disjoining the course of inspiration and expiration.

– Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi

All of these techniques, instructions, and powerful teachings can be found in Kriya Yoga Exposed, The Secret Power of Kriya Yoga, and Samadhi: The Forgotten Eden. These three books address Kriya Pranayama, the teachings of Maharishi Patanjali, and the art of Samadhi. You can also find about the different types of Kriya Pranayama here.

Kriya Pranayama is one of my favorite spiritual techniques of all time. If you’ve never attempted it, give it a try; if you have practiced it before, but are not currently doing it, contemplate giving it another chance. If you’re already practicing it, keep doing it and consider increasing your rounds up to 108 (a full rudraksha mala) or even 144. Kriya Pranayama is synonymous with bliss, and ultimately, bliss is the portal toward Samadhi.

Many blessings,

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