Yoga and the Mind – Raja Yoga

Yoga is well known to involve personal undertakings regarding self culture of body, emotions and mind. In concert these represents our whole outer personality. The purpose aims at excellence – a concept determined by the individual’s perception of the ideal.

Once we understand and can govern the personality we are better able to demonstrate the deeper expressions of our soul. As we further aspire to spiritual understanding we open our consciousness to the limitless spheres beyond – the Universal Consciousness or God.

Various methods of concern for physical health and fitness have been developed over the many ages of human civilization. That branch of the ancient Vedic system is that known as Hatha Yoga. The way to reduce selfish emotions and to open our hearts towards loving Life itself is called Bhakti Yoga.

Beyond good health and emotional happiness there are further rewards for practising Raja Yoga in learning to develop the skills of a healthy intellect and a clear, creative mind. The follower of RajaYoga chooses the most difficult path but one made lighter by intensity of aspiration.

The first exercise in our personal trials to obtain a degree of conscious control over our restless thoughts involves attaining mental quietude by reducing the superficial activity of our mind and creating a state of stillness of both body and mind in meditation. The more actively one uses the mind, the more difficult this exercise will prove to be at first but as with all things, practise makes perfect.

So much of our life story is associated with the way we think. Father Dechanet, a Catholic priest who has written several books on Yoga explains how he found that Yoga can train a Christian to align his feelings and mind to such an extent that he becomes more capable of devoting himself exclusively to what he believes is in the service of God. This is true as in every other religion or philosophy.  Traditional methods present us with a well trodden path.  The acceptance of our personal tool of self discipline enables each of us to achieve in our aspiration to become a better person.

Disciplining the physical body is difficult enough as we all will agree. Emotional self control is subtler and more difficult still. Those who achieve self mastery of the mind are exceptional and understandably scattered less obviously through society. Because of the high level of difficulty in controlling our own mind, this path is named as the Royal Path. However, the principles are integral  in the beginner’s programme as in any advanced level of training.

Yoga practice begins with the practice of stillness. This allows negative energies to drain away and provide a fresh opportunity to re-establish the link with one’s deeper soul self, capable of reflecting our essential wisdom and in time, the light of greater spiritual Intelligence than our own. If the mind can be made to be still it will allow what the mystic describes as…..‘the practice of the Presence of God’  or as the scientist asserts ‘The presence always and everywhere of Law universal.’

This is the ultimate link with God that motivates the Raja Yogi. It comes through a gradual spiritual growth that diminishes the importance of the petty or lesser personal ego that is transitory as it simultaneously increases our wider understanding and consciousness of our immortal nature and of Life itself.

Most of us when young first undertake to focus upon cultivating our earthly personality ego and talents. As we grow older it is usual to have a growing sense of our participation in an ongoing subtler journey as we await the final revelation of our spiritual identity. Within the natural law of growth we come to vibrate in synergy with the Universe just as the lotus soul opens in the sunshine to become aware of the great expanses of Life above and beyond radiating around us yet secure in our own place and purpose in that existence.

We await the simple destiny of each individual human being – the wondrous spiritual realization of the Oneness of all life – the final spiritual truth.

Gerrit Janssen, Spiritual Teacher – address to the Naturopathic Convention, Sydney, Australia 1967.

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