The role of pranayama in meditational techniques

Pranayama is an essential prelude and integral part of kriya yoga and various other medita-tional practices. Control of one's breath leads to control of prana. In turn, control of prana implies control of one's mind. By regulating the flow of prana in the body one can tranquillize the mind and free it, at least for some time, of the incessant conflicts and thoughts that make higher awareness difficult. By manipulating prana in the psychic body one is able to make the mind a suitable vessel for meditational experience.

Pranayama is an indispensable tool. Meditation can be experienced without pranayama, but pranayama is the supercharger that makes meditation possible for most people. For verification of this let us refer to Ramana Maharshi. He said: "The principle underlying the system of yoga is that the source of thought on the one hand and of breath and vital forces on the other, is one and the same. In other words, the breath, vital forces, the physical body and even the mind are all no more than forms of prana or energy. Therefore, if any of them are effectively controlled then the other is automatically brought under control. Yoga aims at influencing the manolaya (subsistence of the mind) by means of the pranalaya (subsistence of the breath and vital forces), which is brought about by the practice of pranayama."

Notes

1 Book I, Lesson 3, Topic 3

2 For further details on the sushumna nadi refer to Book II, Lesson 20, Topic 2.

For further details on ida and pingala nadis refer to Book II, Lesson 22, Topic 1.

3 Topic 5 of this lesson.

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