Raja yoga means royal union; pranayama means extension of breath or life force. This rajayogic-pranayamic meditation for developing union with one’s self and the Supreme Being having a vertical dimension has four stages of relaxation, purification, surrendering, and union.
• Relaxation. Calmness, peacefulness, and relaxation are necessary for growth and development. Nothing can grow in a climate of disturbance, tension, and stress. The best way to relax is to regulate our breathing in a setting where external and internal stimulations are controlled. Often we do not have situations of our choice where we can control the external stimulations. In such settings we can control the stimulations by not controlling them or actively accepting those stimulations that we cannot eliminate. We can maximise elimination of internal stimulations by carefully chosen postures. To begin the meditation, sit comfortably in sukhasana (easy posture) or siddhasana or padmasana or on a chair with a straight back support. Direct the eyes down towards the floor. Close them letting the upper eye-lid gently sliding over the lower one. This will help quieten the brain and minimise external stimulation. Similarly gently close the lips. You must be sitting in a comfortable pose without undue stress or tension with your head and spinal cord straight. Keeping the spinal cord erect helps one to be alert. One does not want to go to sleep. Breathe in and out in a slow, continuous flow without stops and jerks. Let smooth, deep inhalation and complete exhalation go on and on throughout this exercise. Think of lungs as two good balloons getting slowly and completely inflated and deflated with air. Fresh air with plenty of oxygen carried by blood vessels into every cell comes in during inhalation; used-up air that contains carbon-dioxide exits from the lungs. Be aware of any aversive stimulus such as unwanted noise in the environment. Acknowledge such stimulus and let it be. Take a brief systematic survey of your body going slowly from one part of the body to another. Be aware of any itching, twitching, tightness, throbbing, tension, and stress. Acknowledge any uncomfortable sensation, and let it be to be worked on later. During the process of rhythmic inhalation and exhalation, be aware of the deep relaxation that is taking place. Experience waves and waves of relaxation enveloping and enwrapping, carrying and floating you in enjoyable, deep relaxation. You can also imagine to be in a beautiful, scenic view of your choice.
• Purification. During inhalation think of every cell and fiber of your being refreshed, strengthened, and cleansed by oxygen carried by your blood streams. Likewise carbon-dioxide and other impurities in your blood are exhaled out of your system. During this special awareness of breathing in and breathing out, the process of on-going purification taking place. We need to add mental healing and hygiene to the bodily cleansing. During inhalation everything that is desirable such as truth, justice, fairness, goodness, beauty, compassion, kindness, and awareness, or any other value is breathed in. During exhalation everything that is undesirable – lust and desire (kama), anger and hatred (krodha), greed and miserliness (lobha), delusion and attachment (moha), ego and pride (mada or ahankar), envy and jealousy (maatsarya) – are breathed out. This is a very relentless, dynamic, and life-long process.
• Surrendering: During inhalation one breathes in cosmic consciousness, vital energy, and fullness of spirit-life. During exhalation one surrenders completely to the Supreme Being, and puts oneself at the disposal of that Divine Spirit to be molded and shaped as a lump of clay is worked on by a potter. We are works in progress. Our complete surrendering makes sure that we do not put any obstacle in the way of our becoming and being who we need to be.
• Union and Communion: Here the stage is set in our innermost being for the all important and climatic union of the individual consciousness with the Universal Consciousness. We are minute sparks that are parts of the One Blazing Cosmic Spark. Here the mutuality of communication is going on even as the yogic-pranayamic meditation is going on. For a person who has been through years of sadhana (asceticism), the jeevatma (individual soul) in this ecstatic union with the parmatma (Supreme Soul) is in communion beyond communication. Here only what matters is that the individual spirit wills what the Supreme Spirit wills.