Prana and Simply defined stages of developement in meditation
Simplified stages of meditation:
kṣiptam – thrown, cast, or dismissed.
One begins their meditation and within seconds other thoughts enter one’s mind, enter one’s practice. “Oh, I forgot this or don’t forget that, let me see, what about this…… oops I am not meditating, back to meditation”.
One was ‘thrown out’ of their focus of the mind. The focus begins and within a minute or so, he/she is cast out to the world of thinking and pondering other things.
This is not a “bad” thing. It is the beginning of chipping away at the rock.
vikṣiptam – sent, dispatched, distorted.
One begins their focus and it continues, then thoughts come, but the person catches the mind as it is going some where else and brings it back. It leaves on occasion and with frequency it is brought back sooner.
ekāgram – one-pointed or fixed.
A person starts their practice and can stay with it.
niruddham – fill with, full of, withheld.
At this point one’s meditation goes on in a chainlike manner, in continuity.
The human body at times is called the chariot. The thought here is the body as the chariot houses the self, sva (one’s own being). Yet, what is this body dependent upon? It depends on prana. This term is rooted in pra defined as the breath of life.
What sense is removed upon deep sleep? The breath continues day and night.
The chariot of this self, of one’s Being. It is the breath that can deliver up the self to the self. The breath is the essence that rides on the essence of the body which is the breath.
That is why there are so many approaches that involve the breath.
We gain support from the breath: We have one breath, yet this breath has 3 parts:
3. the rest point in between
ūrdhvaṁ pranaṁ unnayatyapanaṁ pratyag asyati madhye vāmanam āsanaṁ viśve devā upāsate || – Kathopanishad 2.2.3
It is the one that leads (unnaya) prana upwards (ūrdhvaṁ), It is the one that brings down (pratyag) apana, It is the one seated (asana) in the middle (madhya) as worthy of adoration.
(asana once again, as always, is in stillness and not movement)
It is the one, all the gods (vishve deva – senses) adore (upasate). Hamsa is one’s breath.
śivo dharmeṇa haṃsastu sūryo haṃsaḥ prabhānvitaḥ |
ātmā vai haṃsa ityuktaḥ prāṇo haṃsasamanvitaḥ ||
Svacchanda Tantra 7.29-.30
Shiva is by his own nature ham-sa. The sun filled with light is ham-sa. The soul is also called ham -sa, breath goes along with ham-sa. “What has previously been defined as Shiva, being a condensation of consciousness and bliss, is by nature, that is by his innate nature of freedom, ham-sa, that is, the one who emanates and reabsorbs the universe; hence being of the nature of hana, giving up, and samadana, taking back (i.e. the two syllables ha+sa). And because of his Shivahood (shivatvat) he performs the five cosmic acts which are essentially a ‘giving out, and ‘taking back’ (hana-samadana).
Abhyasa = practice, it also is defined as the act of adding. We are adding this breath to one’s day. another meaning of abhyasa, that is pervading or extending to pervade the whole day.
As lions, elephants and tigers are tamed very slowly and cautiously, so would prana be brought under control very slowly in gradation measured according to one’s capacity and physical limitations
– Haṭha Yoga Pradipīkā