Our Superconscious - A mystical level of mind

Once we have become subconsciously adjusted to a sense of an “I” rooted in being, rather than an “I” driven by the impulses of the five senses or lured on by the ramification of thought and the novelty of the conscious state of mind, we have successfully positioned awareness on the threshold of superconsciousness. superconscious tigerBefore we seriously focus deeply within, we experience superconsciousness in a general way—usually as something like a no-problem zone of inner space in which everything just seems to be okay. Because this nonspecific enjoyment of alrightness feels quite “natural” to us, we are left to assume that we are at least temporarily functioning in an “unnatural” state of mind when life does not seem to be “okay.”

If we accept “natural” to mean inherent and “unnatural” to mean acquired, we will be inclined to perceive our superconscious state of mind to be inherent, and therefore the same for all of us, while we understand our subconscious and conscious states of mind to be acquired, and therefore different for each of us (since each of us acquires differently according to our individual experience).

Obviously, just living in a physical body demands an externalization of awareness out of “inherent” superconsciousness into “acquired” conscious and subconscious states of mind.

When we roll out of bed in the morning to brush our teeth and shower, each one of us must necessarily leave our inherent superconsciousness to live by thousands of little personally acquired memories. Although certainly we might manage to do all of this with a subconscious sense of superconsciousness, which would be wonderful, our waking life is still primarily an acquired existence formed consciously and subconsciously.

From this we can see, while we are awake in the physical realm doing physical things, the superconscious is at best only available to us as a secondary influence filtering through our subconscious to feed the background of our daily life with bliss, confidence, calm, compassion, inspiration and the like.

Tapping into superconsciousness in this way is wonderful to be sure. But to thoroughly experience this richest part of us, we must fully withdraw from our conscious and subconscious states of mind, enter the spiritual realm, and be there completely. Under normal physical circumstances, this cannot be accomplished easily. During periods of time set aside for the practice of a yoga that includes deep meditation, however, it can be.

During such withdrawal, we strive to become immersed in those magnificent qualities of beingbliss, love, stillness, balance, peace, power, rapture, joy and awareness. Just holding the “I” centered in any of these qualities invites Samadhi, intensifies an internal correction of wrong perception and unresolved memory, and programs our subconscious to flood our external life with an unfettered superconscious support that can and will sustain us even during our most trying times.

If we can then come out of this withdrawal to remain two-thirds within during the waking hours of our life, our subconscious will assist rather than block a more continual superconscious influence upon our physical life. This two-thirds-within positioning of awareness is easily attainable. In fact, it is so attainable we can be there and not know it.

Take, for instance, an elderly lady, washing dishes, humming a song and looking out her kitchen window at two robins nibbling sesame seeds off a bird feeder. As that lady rests in the bliss of now, enjoying the warmth of soapy dish water, the touch of slippery plates, the tap-tap pecking of the birds, and the sweet delight of humming her song—all at once—is she not a perfect example of the conscious, subconscious and superconscious states of mind working together harmoniously as one?

Moving like this in life is not difficult and does not demand that we have a completely resolved subconscious. Even with a huge backlog of karmic “issues,” we can work with ourselves to live and move easily, receiving superconsciousness like a welcome guest when it comes, awaiting it patiently when it doesn’t.

Dealing with life in this manner, ever so lightly leaning upon and occasionally withdrawing completely into our internal nature, we invite our superconscious to more and more consistently come forward through our subconscious into our conscious states of mind until, finally, we are feeling at least a little bit of superconsciousness all the time.

When we have lost our sense of superconsciousness, we can get it back by simply becoming aware of that loss. Just that. With this simple adjustment of awareness—just recognizing and acknowledging we have temporarily lost our sense of inner bliss during a frenzy of mental or emotional distraction—we gift ourselves the only moment the now needs to help us gain back our option to feel and follow the rhythm and rhyme of our own intuitive mind back in and through inner realms to our superconscious home base.

The yogis secret Challenge: The subliminal level of mind

Our computer-like subconscious is a remarkable state of our mind. Long before we become aware of it, or even if we never become aware of it, that subconscious is there thanklessly handling all of the basic and crucial functions of our physical body like blood circulation, food digestion and muscle coordination. male female lions And while it is doing all this, it is also recording, categorizing and processing every single experience we have in our conscious state of mind, even as it creates from those experiences elaborate programs for the automatic implementation of skills like typing, driving and speaking a language. Thanks to this marvelously self-contained and self-reliant part of us just beneath the range of our conscious perception, we are free to focus our surface awareness upon exploring and learning through new experience.

As marvelous as this apparently free-standing and independent subconscious state of mind might seem to be, it can be inhibited by us. More than we know, we can inadvertently block our subconscious reception of superconsciousness.

When, due to an impure and/or a selfish lifestyle, our subconscious receives more negative input than it can process immediately, it becomes overloaded with wrong perception and unresolved memory. A backup into a backlog of this gloomy mind-matter is “negative karma.” Fortunately, there is no limit to the amount of negative karma the subconscious can hold. Unfortunately, however, as these negative karmas mount, they thicken their block of the very superconscious influence that would insure their resolution.

As we begin to realize we are more than a body and a mind with fears and desires, we start to sense we really don’t have to live life in the shadow of excess negative karma. We also begin to sense—and this sensing is a result of our superconsciousness getting through to us any way it can—we can help our subconscious better its collaboration with our superconscious to more efficiently handle our backlog of wrong perception and unresolved memory.

At this point we start living life on the high side of our conscious mind by trying to do good and be good so as not to burden our subconscious with more low-level problems than it can handle with a minimum expenditure of energy. Such intentionally positive living leaves impressions in the subconscious that don’t need to be “fixed” later. This smart creation of “positive karma” frees the subconscious to expeditiously work on its backlog of “negative karma.

In yoga, we “do good and be good” by tailoring our lives around the yamas (don't's), and niyamas, (do's) Maintaining these restraints and observances dissolves our blocks to the superconscious by adjusting our negative attitudes, demagnetizing our personality conflicts and allowing the flowering of spiritual qualities like humility, patience, forbearance and fortitude. All of this intentional adjustment opens a wide window for the light of superconsciousness to shine through our subconscious into our conscious mind.

To further assist our subconscious in working efficiently with superconsciousness, we can make special efforts to remain detached as we deal with past and present experience. Such detachment invites the assistance of intuition—our direct connection to superconsciousness.

When awareness is detached, it is not identified with thought and emotion. This detachment gives awareness unblocked access to intuition. When awareness is not detached, but instead allows itself to become magnetized into an identification with thought and emotion, it partially or completely loses its functional connection with intuition.

When we habitually and thus frequently allow awareness to become identified with thought and emotion, we live life personally. In this personal living, we have no choice but to see life through the eyes of an identity caught and stuck in a physical body that was born, is alive and will die. From this point of view, we are not looking at life intuitively because intuition is not personal; it is impersonal.

From experience, we know the non-reaction of detachment can only arise from an intuitive perception that we are Self. We also know we do not have to realize the Self to sense that the Self does exist and is our essential identity. Sensing we are the source of the body we live in is easy. It’s even logical. But if we cannot manage to let this sensing be, we will not be detached and we will react to life personally.

To perceive the experiences of life in detachment without reaction is to see those experiences impersonally. Seeing the experiences of life impersonally leans us toward a creation of positive karma, as well as an expeditious resolution of negative karma.

The Waking Level of MInd

If we position awareness in the physical body and the physical realm, and we spend all our waking hours in that conscious state of mind, naturally we are going to identify with that body, that realm and that state. Cool cat

When we practice a deeper yoga that focuses on breaking out of this three-faceted sense of false identity, we find ourselves stepping back and detaching into a watcher awareness, observing the physical body, the physical realm and the conscious state of mind.

At first, this watcher awareness is faint because it has arisen inadvertently as an unanticipated consequence of a general yoga practice. Yet, as we catch the idea this state of detached observation is worthy of intentional pursuit, we begin to cultivate watcher awareness as a yoga in itself.

Working to hold watcher awareness, we find we can study the power of our instinctive nature from a distance where we can feel its magnetism just beginning to pull us into all-encompassing experiences of seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting in the physical realm. We also find we can investigate just how this involvement with the physical realm through the instincts of the physical body can trigger emotions that urge us to seek solace in the intellect. Finally, we find we can examine the intellect to see how its development begins with a manipulation of remembered information rather than truly original thinking.

All of this and more we can learn about the conscious state of mind by simply being that watcher that can only see what it sees because it is separate enough from what it sees to see it clearly. From this we can also sense that, when we are the watcher, we are not in an externalized state of consciousness at all. We are outside externalization—or to put it more precisely, we are inside externalization, looking out at it.

If everyone suddenly pulled back into watcher awareness, the conscious state of mind would not be what it is at all, for it is what it is only because of the externalization of those consumed enough in an awareness of it to be caught by it. “Externalization” here refers to a state of mind in which nothing beyond a world perceivable through the five senses is acknowledged as having substantial existence.

Because the conscious state of mind is a product of awareness consumed in the physical realm, it is also a product of awareness preoccupied with physical things to want and have. Since blind ignorance is the common ground of awareness bound in this conscious state of mind, no one caught there knows that no thing can yield happiness. Thus, most everyone caught there seeks happiness by seeking things.

Additionally, since being caught in the conscious mind also means identifying with the physical body, those thus caught also seek happiness by thrilling, clothing and feeding the body—and by making a lot of money to do more of the same. Such stuck-in-the-body living is like treadmill-running after a satisfaction that is forever advancing ahead of us, just out of reach.

When we feel trapped in this most externalized state of consciousness, we experience a stark variety of fear that can only arise when we are so completely cut off from our own intuition we have lost even the faintest sense that we are actually an immortal entity impervious to harm. As might be expected, it is when we find ourselves so fully at the mercy of a fear like this that we are so understandably inclined to cobble together whatever externalized security we can derive from name, fame, fortune, and the like.

Though we could be in any of many places besides this outer condition of consciousness, we will not be anywhere but there so long as we remain unknowingly addicted to the lure of our own fascination with novelty. Drawn into the conscious mind by intrigue, curiosity and desire, and hounded there by fear, we seek a seeming safety in a fortress we build around a false sense of “I.” Although this hard-walled stronghold of wrong identity makes us insensitive and tough, we perpetuate it at all costs—even when it begins to cost more than the sense of security it was created to nurture and protect.

Thus it is that a primary objective of yoga is to withdraw from the conscious state of mind—when we are ready, of course, for how could such withdrawal occur otherwise? When we are finally ready and withdrawal does finally occur, the conscious state of mind becomes an object of study and a point of focus for internalizing rather than externalizing awareness.

Yogas - Variations on a Theme

There is yoga and there are yogas. To be more specific, it could be said of yoga, and the family of yogas it has become, what might be said of anything made manifest: “First there was one; then there was more than one.” Such proliferation could not really be dubbed beneficial or not any more than a cell dividing or a couple having children could be considered helpful or not. It’s simply a natural consequence of the life of something—anything—doing what it does, which is (among other things) to bloom out of innate simplicity into manifest complexity. Lion plus cubKnown history maintains that yoga was officially codified as a practice by a man named Patanjali who lived about 200 BCE. Although the Vedic Upanishads indicate yoga was practiced at least a thousand years before Patanjali was born, Patanjali has been given credit for getting yoga established in an official way because he was apparently the first person to write down a coherent description of it.

In his terse handbook, the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali laid out a set of disciplines he called ashtanga yoga, “the yoga of eight limbs.” This ashtanga yoga came to be known as raja yoga, “the king of yogas.”

The “eight limbs” or progressive steps of ashtanga yoga are yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (posture), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (mystic oneness).

Although ashtanga yoga was originally conceived as a one system, parts of it have been separated out to become yogas in themselves. Prominent among these are hatha yoga, highlighting body development; kriya yoga, emphasizing breath control; and jnana yoga, featuring introspection. Knowledgeable yogis also assert that karma yoga, focusing upon selfless service, and bhakti yoga, focusing upon devotion, were derived from the yamas and niyamas of Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga.

The spawning of these first spin-off yogas inspired the development of other yogas out of Pantajali’s original ashtanga yoga. These included japa yoga, nada yoga, and kundalini yoga. Through the passage of time, even more yogas came—many of them named after their teachers or the places they were originally taught. This snowballing multiplication of yogas continues today. But it all started with Patanjali and his ashtanga yoga.

The greatest good that has come from the proliferation of yoga into yogas has been its extensive development through specialization. The basic pranayama of raja yoga, for instance, which originally offered only a simple means of preparing for meditation by controlling breath to calm body, mind and emotions, got sophisticated into kriya yoga. Kriya yoga is a system of breathing exercises so elaborate and complete within itself it offers a path to God Realization through breath control alone.

The greatest harm that has come from yoga’s proliferation has been its frequent forfeit of original intent. Since the literal meaning of the word yoga is “to bind back,” as in binding back to source, it should not seem unreasonable that a practice called yoga should be yoga in the truest sense of the word. Yet, many of the specialized yogas that have developed out of raja yoga are not binding back to source as much as they are bounding forward toward some end or ideal within their own area of expertise. Hatha yoga, for instance, is often taught only as physical exercise for physical health.

The most intriguing evolution of raja yoga from its inception to the present has been its successful absorption back into itself of that which blossomed out of it into specialization. When this amalgamation of developed-new back into stable-old is allowed to occur wisely, which usually means under the guidance of a qualified teacher, those developed parts getting merged back do not change the original structure of that from whence they came as much as they support and enhance that structure. Thus, it may be said, in best-case scenarios, today’s raja yoga has not lost the house it built but has instead gained for that house a constructive reinforcement.

In yoga as in life, knowledge is power. Because this is true, we can be sure the foundational knowledge we bring to any yoga we practice will most certainly increase that yoga’s benefits tremendously. Yet, to maximize these benefits, we must assimilate this knowledge we bring with the desire we have. As of now, 39 steps into our journey, we have a fairly healthy stockpile of knowledge. What we might be lacking, however, is a clear and honest perception of exactly what we want out of our yoga practice right now.

It is not so important that we want yoga’s ultimate “binding back” right from the start of our practice. Higher desires cannot be forced. But they can be enticed. Yoga—however it is practiced and for whatever purpose—entices the high through an overall overhaul of the low.

Bliss: The Feeling of One Life Force

Who could ever question the innate sanctity of a child’s bliss and the blessed effect that bliss has upon others? And who would not want to take that bliss and pass it on—just by reveling in it and letting that reveling spread of its own accord? Once we perceive bliss as the feeling of the force of life, we can see it everywhere—where it is obvious and where it is not. It is obvious in love, but not in lust. It is obvious in peace, but not in war. It is obvious in selflessness, but not in selfishness. Yet still it’s there, everywhere.

Clearly, pure bliss is apparent in the lives of small children who have not yet learned to abstain from an unrepentant and unpretentious enjoyment of their inherent joy. And clearly that bliss is obviously there in the upliftment those children spill over onto us as their bliss becomes our bliss by no intentional effort of theirs whatsoever.

Certainly, it is a turning-point day when we let it be okay to unabashedly seek our own bliss in the better of its many guises, but especially as itself, naked and pure—like a child would experience it. On that day, we learn to live without lack and give without loss by simply allowing ourselves an enjoyment of a bliss so abundant it overflows onto others as blessings.

At first, we experience bliss in things we do.

Say, for instance, we are listening to some music we love on the radio. That listening is a doing. And it is a doing that we are inclined to keep on doing because we feel bliss while we are doing it. And while we are listening to that music we love, we say to ourselves, “Ahhh, this music is pure bliss.”

Suddenly, someone comes along and changes the channel to a station playing music we hate. What happens to our bliss? Is it not gone along with our beloved music? Usually.

That’s the tricky thing about feeling bliss through doing. Whatever is being done can appear to be the cause of the bliss felt during the doing. Once bliss is perceived in its pure and virgin state, however, it becomes apparent that doing could not possibly cause bliss, because bliss precedes doing. This is not immediately obvious, of course. But somewhere along the line, each of us discovers it is true: Bliss stands alone without a cause.

Experiencing this causeless bliss is easy. It requires only a perceptual adjustment. If we can acknowledge to ourselves that bliss can be experienced for no reason and we can allow ourselves to drop the very idea we have to do something to feel bliss, we’ll find we’ve found bliss right then and there, without even looking for it.

Once we have identified bliss as a fundamental quality of life, we can more easily enjoy it as a backdrop to our doing.

In this new enjoyment, we know that regardless of what happens in our doing, even if that doing should undo itself in disaster, the bliss behind it will remain intact and safe in being. As a result of this knowing, our life shifts gently as does our consciousness so that we are inclined to act appropriately and live gracefully—all through a doing anchored firmly in being.

How to locate and enjoy your primal bliss:

There are many ways to approach reveling in the bliss forever emanating from the core of your most essential being. Here, we will suggest one. This approach is yogic. It begins with an exercise called the full wing flight.

In addition to enhancing the lung’s exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, which is the primary function of the body’s respiratory system, this full wing flight helps to stop random thought, de-emphasize negative emotion and clear the way for an unobstructed perception of the feeling of being, which is the feeling of bliss.

The practice of the full wing flight shapes up around a well-known yogic breath control called the complete breath. This complete breath is performed by inhaling slowly and steadily through the nose, first filling the lower part of the lungs (expanding the abdomen slightly); then filling the middle part of the lungs (expanding the lower ribs, breastbone and chest slightly); and finally filling the highest portion of the lungs (expanding the upper chest and pulling the abdomen in slightly). The exhalation that follows is simply a reversal of the inhalation.

To accomplish the physical action that should occur in conjunction with the complete breath during the full wing flight, assume a standing position to lift your arms out and up, like a bird spreading its wings, so that each hand draws an invisible 180-degree arc from the bottom, where the arms hang limp, to the top, where the palms of the hands are pressed lightly together in prayer formation above the head.

This lifting of the arms gets coordinated with the complete breath in the following manner (see figure 1): As the arms are raised one third of the way up the 180-degree arc, the first phase of the complete breath is performed. As the arms are raised up the second third of the the arc, the second phase of the complete breath is performed. As the arms are raised up the last third of the arc, the final phase of the complete breath achieves a full inhalation. That full inhalation should then be held for a few seconds before an exhalation begins an exact reversal of the procedure just described.

Figure 1: The full wing flight

Performing this breath control with the three-phase arm motion helps the unified fluidity of the exercise by giving it a dance feel. It also allows for more air to be drawn into the upper lungs during the third phase of the inhalation.

In this approach to an enjoyment of bliss, we will also be assuming a posture called the “corpse pose” in English and shavasana in Sanskrit. When you are in this position (see figure 2) you are lying flat on your back with your arms relaxed to the sides of your body (palms facing up) and your feet set slightly apart.

Figure 2: Shavasana


Experiencing your primal bliss:

• Sitting in a casual and comfortable position, take a few moments to reflect upon the most recent events of your life. Go back no more than three days. Recall three specific occasions that were ethereally enjoyable such as when you watched a sunset, chilled out in a hot tub or relaxed in a hammock on a Sunday afternoon.

An example expressed in words: “It was about 6:45 in the evening on May 16, 2009. I had been driving on the interstate for at least three hours heading home from Lake Tahoe to San Francisco. With an hour of travel still ahead of me, I decided to take a break. Pulling off the road at the first ‘rest stop’ I could find, I got out of my car, walked a bit to stretch and sat down at a picnic table to watch the sun’s last sinking out of twilight into night. As I gazed into the final dazzling brilliance of this evening phenomenon, I lost track of time. If sunsets lasted forever, I’d still be there. But they don’t and I’m not. Soon enough, I was back on the road dealing with night traffic. All I could think about was getting home.”

• When you are ready, stand up and practice the full wing flight three times—more if you like. Then lie down in shavasana for about ten minutes. (Careful! A soft surface might invite sleep.) Allow yourself to bask in bliss.

• As you enjoy your shavasana, recall your three chosen events and reflect on each one separately. Once you have caught the enjoyment of each event, drop the event and hold the enjoyment. Be sure to do this with each event.

• Remaining in shavasana, strive to catch and hold the one feeling that was the same through each of your three experiences of enjoyment. That one common-denominator feeling is the bliss of being. Try to hold that bliss for at least five minutes without getting distracted.

This article is an excerpt from Muni’s  book: Into the I of allAn Ultimate Yoga.