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Raja Yoga and Psychology
Modernization and mechanization have made people far more susceptible to stress, tension, and depression than before. As a result, it has cost us by contributing to several psychosomatic ailments. Temporary respite is provided by the corrective medications used to treat these illnesses. One of the non-pharmacological methods for long-term stress and strain relief is Raja Yoga and meditation.
What is Raja Yoga?
The UN established international Yoga Day on June 21 to recognize Raj Yoga. Raj Yoga is a method of meditation to free the soul (Atma) from the grasp of illusions (Maya) and merge with the prime soul (Paramatma), and for this to happen, a healthy body is necessary. There are 8 components to Raj Yoga: asanas, pranayama, samadhi, yama, niyama, pratyahara, dharna, dhyana. Together, these techniques create a comprehensive framework for developing the mind and body and realizing oneself through yoga. Raj Yoga is well-known for having beneficial effects on the human body, and it is regarded as a crucial preventative & therapeutic method for a variety of medical disorders.
Components of Raja Yoga
Yama - Self-Control − Five guiding concepts make up
Nonviolence, or Ahimsa − Ahimsa refers to the practice of not inflicting suffering or injury on any living thing by one's words, actions, or thoughts. Being nonviolent also includes not killing. Meat consumption necessitates animal death. Yogis are vegetarians because of this tenet. Animals have a strong instinct that makes them more conscious of imminent mortality. They are in mortal terror and can know when they are about to be killed. Their entire body begins to emit stress and fear chemicals.
Satya or Sincerity − It is good and right to express the truth constantly, but how we say it is more crucial. We can speak the truth to someone as if it were a knife, but we also can do so in a loving manner. We should obey Mahaprabhuji's counsel, "Each of your sentences should fall like blossoms from your lips," to avoid transgressing ahimsa. Being truthful also entails not hiding your emotions, evading, or announcing falsehoods.
Asteya or Non-Stealing − Asteya is the concept that you should never take something that belongs to someone else. This includes the theft of tangible things and the theft of someone else's opportunity, hope, or happiness. This includes exploiting the environment and the devastation of the natural world.
Brahmacharya or Pure Way of Life − Brahmacharya is frequently seen as non-sexual behavior. However, there is much more to it than that. Brahmacharya states that we should have God as our constant focus. This does not suggest that we should shirk our responsibilities in this world.
Aparigraha or Non-Accumulation of Possession − We should not amass things; instead, we should only buy and utilize what we need to survive. This is known as aparigraha. One who owns many things also worries a lot. We leave everything behind when we leave this planet again since we are born without possessions. No accumulation also refers to letting others be free and not holding onto them.
Niyama – Discipline − It consists of five principles
Shauca - Purity − Inner cleanliness is more significant than just outward purity. Our ideas, feelings, and physical appearance should all be pure. The same is true of the individuals we surround ourselves with. It is extremely beneficial for our spiritual growth to surround ourselves with like-minded individuals who positively impact us, is spiritual, and can provide us with guidance.
Santosh - Contentment − The greatest wealth we can have is contentment. "You may have mines of gold and beautiful stones, but inner unhappiness ruins all prosperity," the Indian poet Tulsidas once stated. Only after realizing that all earthly assets lead to disappointment and that inner richness brings more joy than material wealth can we find fulfillment.
Tapa - Self-Control, Self-Discipline − Never quit when faced with life challenges and barriers. Instead, we should steadfastly stick to the course we have selected. The secret to success is to keep practicing with self-discipline, endurance, and tenacity.
Svadhyaya - Study of the Holy Scriptures − The Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and other classical texts on yoga philosophy should all be familiar to anybody aspiring to yoga. On our road to yoga, these scriptures offer invaluable wisdom and support.
Ishvara Pranidhana - Devotion to God − Give the Divine Self all you do with complete commitment. God protects all those who submit in faith and trust.
The third Anga of Raja Yoga is asana. Spiritual practices require a healthy, disease-free body that is physically fit. You cannot combat the agitated senses and raucous thoughts without healthy health. Asana practice regularly will keep your body in shape, relax your mind, and offer you plenty of energy, vigor, strength, and nerve power. You will not experience any bodily agony when performing arduous Sadhana. For meditation, the poses Padmasana, Siddhasana, and Sukhasana are recommended. Sirshasana, Sarvangasana, Matsyasana, Paschimottanasana, Ardha-Matsyendrasana, Bhujangasana, Dhanurasana, Salabhasana, Trikonasana, Padahastasana, Halasana, and Mayurasana are among the most crucial poses for overall physical and psychological growth. Asanas' auxiliary movements are bandhas and mudras.
The regulation and control of breath are the fourth Anga or accessory-Pranayama. It refers to a method for learning to manage and access prana. The superconscious state of focus, also known as the limit of concentration, allows the mind to go beyond ordinary experience and live on a level higher than that of reason. The Yogi encounters truths that are beyond the comprehension of regular awareness. This is accomplished by appropriate training and management of the body's subtle energies, which act as an upward push for the mind into higher realms. When the mind has reached this level of superconscious vision, it starts to act from that place and has access to greater truths and higher knowledge. Such is the ultimate goal of pranayama, which is accomplished by regulating vibratory prana.
Yogis can focus their minds and senses either inside or outward at command. Similar to how a tortoise may retract its head and limbs behind its shell and then stretch them back out. Once Pratyahara was under control, freedom from outside influences was attained. One can shut off their senses to outside things quickly or, if they so choose, to actively and deliberately employ them. We practice Pratyahara during the initial phases of meditation, keeping the body, the eyes closed, the mind still, and the concentration focused inside. There are certain methods we may use to practice practyahara. One meditation practice starts by watching the sound, paying attention to its nature, distance, etc. Awareness gradually withdraws to one's "inner space," where body noises are heard (heartbeat, blood circulation, etc.).
Dharana refers to concentrating one's thoughts and emotions on a single thing. Usually, we only temporarily succeed in doing this before being sidetracked by other ideas. After only a few minutes, we become conscious of our loss of attention. We still need to perfect Dharana if we can focus on a thought or object at any time, under any circumstance. Concentration is considerably aided by candle meditation (Trataka), certain asanas and pranayamas, mantra repetition, and other practices.
All forms of meditation are warm-up exercises for actual meditation. Just as we cannot "learn" to fall asleep, one cannot meditate. Our bodies fall asleep when they become calm and relaxed. When the mind is still, meditation can occur. Because imagination comes from the intellect, it is absent during meditation. The human brain may be compared to a potent computer with huge storage. Although the whole universe may be stored there, this "computer" has limitations. Only whatever is fed into the human brain may be reproduced by it. However, when we meditate, we encounter pure existence. Divine light glows within the heart; we are one with it the minute the mind is silent and the separate ego vanishes
The union of the knower, the knowledge, and the knowledge object is known as samadhi. Knowledge (i.e., what is God), the knower (i.e., the person practicing), and the object of knowledge (i.e., God) unite to become one. One fuse with the Divine mind in this way. Those who achieve Samadhi see an endless emptiness inside themselves, see a heavenly, bright light, and hear a heavenly voice. When Samadhi is accomplished, we resemble a river that empties into the sea after a protracted and challenging trip. The river and ocean are permanently connected when all challenges are removed. Similarly, a Yogi completes their journey and unites with Supreme Consciousness. The yogi is freed when their awareness experiences endless calm, serenity, and happiness.
Origin of Raja Yoga
Raja Yoga is a phrase that is frequently used to describe the yoga system described in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. This ancient Indian treatise is regarded as one of the founding texts of yoga. The 196 aphorisms that make up the Yoga Sutras serve as a practical manual for developing the mind and achieving self-realization via yoga practice. The sage Patanjali, who is thought to have lived in ancient India between the second century BCE and the second century CE, is credited with authoring the Yoga Sutras. The literature is divided into four chapters, or "books," each of which describes one of Raja Yoga's eight limbs and offers advice on practicing yoga to achieve self-realization.
Raja Yoga and Psychology
Raja Yoga and psychology focus on the development of concentration and mindfulness as well as the cultivation of mental states. These techniques are frequently thought to have various psychological advantages, such as lowered tension and anxiety, enhanced cognitive performance, and elevated emotions of well-being. The emphasis on self-inquiry and self-study (svadhyaya) as a method of comprehending and transforming the mind is another link between Raja Yoga and psychology. This is comparable to some types of psychotherapy in that both target mental health issues and promote personal growth through self-exploration and self-awareness. Raja Yoga provides a variety of methods and instruments that can be helpful in the field of psychology, both for cultivating mental health and for comprehending and transforming the mind.
Benefits of Raja Yoga
Raja Yoga is said to aid practitioners in taking charge of their thoughts and emotions, resulting in a calm and clear mind. Raja yoga has several possible advantages, including
Raja yoga can aid practitioners in achieving more mental clarity and focus by teaching the mind to be more present and aware.
A stronger sense of inner calm and stability can be attained via raja yoga, which can help practitioners gain more control over their thoughts, emotions, and actions.
Flexibility, strength, and balance can all be improved by raja yoga's physical activities, which are largely geared toward the mental development of the practitioner.
Raja yoga's fusion of physical exercise and mindfulness techniques can help practitioners relax their bodies and minds while reducing stress.
Raja yoga strongly emphasizes mindfulness and introspection, which can give practitioners a better knowledge of their thoughts and feelings.
To prevent damage, it is crucial to practice raja yoga properly and carefully, just like any other physical activity or exercise. A healthcare expert should always be consulted before beginning a new exercise regimen, and you should also pay attention to your body and make any necessary adjustments. Finding a skilled and experienced instructor to lead your practice is also crucial because raja yoga can include complex techniques that call for proper guidance and teaching. It is also important to remember that raja yoga, like all types of yoga, can be a difficult practice that is only sometimes appropriate for everyone. Respecting your limitations and making necessary adjustments to your practice will help keep it secure and pleasurable.
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