ISIP PracticesLearn the foundational C-B-A practices for the Implosive Self-Inquiry Protocol™
“Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can offer to the world.”
Sri Ramana Maharishi
May the grace of the guru guide you to the ultimate success in your practice and life!
ISIP Churning meditations are used to turn attention within and draw energy upwards to higher spiritual centers. Rajivji prescribes two main methods for Churning: Kriya and Self-Inquiry. Please ask Rajivji to see which practices fit your Combination Codes.
1. Inner Hygiene Meditation
The Inner Hygiene Meditation is to be done before ISIP practices for about 12 minutes in total. It is to prepare the body by infusing more oxygen into the body and throwing out toxins so that the body can be ready for deeper meditations. The deep inhalations and exhalations create inner expansiveness which allows more life force to enter through the medium of breath and remove toxins and blockages present within the body.
The practice is very simple. There are 3 main instructions to follow as given below:
1) Inhale as slowly as possible
2) Exhale as slowly as possible
3) Try to omit the pause that happens between the inhalation and exhalations.
When you begin to inhale and exhale slowly, you will notice that the breath automatically becomes longer and deeper than normal. This gives deep rest to the inner organs of your body and you will begin to experience a state of deep calmness and relaxation.
Try not to hold the breath (no pause) and instead allow the inhaling breath to move into the exhaling breath and vice versa.
2. Basic Spinal Breathing (Ujjai)
Example of Ujjai Breath
Please keep these key points in mind when doing your practice:
- As with every step of your ISIP practice… do this practice with feeling, with Love in your Heart.
- Be very relaxed and comfortable as you start this practice, sit in an upright position, spine straight. Do not use any back support other than support for your lower back if you find that necessary. It is not necessary to sit in a cross-legged position, you can sit in a chair if that is more comfortable for you. The key is to be relaxed, comfortable and have a straight spine.
- Visualize a hollow tube (like a narrow thermometer) in the middle of your spine and… starting from the base of your spine… imagine your breath moving slowly up and down, like mercury going up and down a thermometer (see Sushumna diagram on first page).
On the Inhale:
- As you inhale, breathe upwards from the base of the Sushumna (spine area), applying a very slight pressure, a slight constriction of the muscles, so that you feel you are sucking the air upwards. Bring your breath up to the Medulla Oblongata. See diagrams above.
- As you begin your inhalation, mentally say, ‘I’. It is not necessary to draw it out, just mentally hold the intention of ‘I’ as you inhale.
- As you inhale upwards from the base of the Sushumna, mentally count to 4 as you breathe into your abdomen, and then an additional 2 counts as you expand the breath into your chest area. Do not overfill your chest with air! If you find a slightly shorter or longer count is more comfortable for you, then maintain the 4-2 ratio. That is, breathing into your chest should be for no more than half the time (50%) you take to breathe into your abdomen. For example, a count of 6-3 instead of 4-2.
- As you are inhaling, allow your abdomen to expand.
- As you inhale, pull/tuck your chin in very slightly so that you feel a slight constriction in both the back and the front of your throat… a very slight tightening… and with your mouth closed… breathe from your ‘throat’ (the air comes in your nose) so that you can hear a soft, ocean-like sound. This should not be loud, but a soft sound that only you can hear.
On the Exhale:
- As you begin your exhalation, mentally say, ‘Am’. It is not necessary to draw it out, just mentally hold the intention of ‘Am’ as you exhale.
- As you exhale, breathe down and out the base of the Sushumna and do not rush your breath, it should be a slow, even exhalation.
- As you are exhaling, gently contract your abdomen and ensure all air is released.
- If you want to practice with more intensity you can keep the duration of the exhalation a bit longer than the duration of the inhalation. Feel the relaxing effect of the longer exhaling breath within the spine as it moves towards the base and out.
3. Activating the Chakras
Description of the Chakras
MULADHARA (base) — fear and insecurity
Muladhara is felt near the base of the spine. You can feel it near the anus at the time of the bowel movement and, if constipated, where you push and feel the sensation of pushing the human waste out.
SVADISTHANA (sacrum) — sexual energy, wild, erotic thoughts and feelings
Svadisthana is where you feel the sensation of the urinating command before the urine comes out, ejaculation and the subsequent relaxation feeling comes in the spine behind the genital hole. This chakra is where sudden sexual arousal comes as an impulse when you get excited by a sexual subject, encounter, or the opportunity.
MANIPURA (opposite the belly-button) — ego and the need to control
Manipura is in the spine by direct projection of the belly button on it.
ANAHATA (heart) — inappropriate and uncontrollable emotions like rage, may react to things without thinking
Anahata is behind the heart where you feel great love for someone, or when you see a woman that comes to you in a surprise, and looks at you with love and your heart begins to race with a gusto of love. At that time, spot the location in the spine.
VISHUDDHA (throat) — doubt and lack of faith, overly judgemental and opinionated
Vishuddha can be located by saying Aaaaa, Kaaaaa, Gaaaaa, and noticing the resonating spot in the cervical center, in the spine. It is behind the throat. During coughing notice the command center in the spine.
AJNA (third eye) — confusion, not knowing the right thing to do
Ajna is the region on top of the cervical vertebrae which gets excited when suddenly a knowledge spark comes and solves a problem that was bothering you for a long time. Notice the place it excites. It is the Medulla or Ajna chakra! At that moment, notice where the brain is focused and excited. When someone gives you a quiz or exam question, and asks you to give the answer, notice the area of the brain where you are searching for the answer and performing the mental calculations — sometimes your eyes roll up towards the Third Eye, and yet, you feel the search (for the answer) sensation in the Medulla. This is Ajna chakra.
Activating the Chakras Meditation Instructions
When you are worshipping and activating the chakras, three things are important to ritually offer to them. The first is your breath. The second is mantra. The third is mind. If you offer these three to the chakras, they will activate and start spinning for your benefit. Being no longer troubled by their pull, you will be able to achieve what you want in both your worldly and spiritual life. That is our main job to do.
These chakras hold you in the world, giving you lots of worries, tension, and problems. Unless you deal with them, they will not leave you. Unless you satisfy them, they will obstruct your going into the I-AMness or Heart.
The first step is offering the breath. How do you do so? Begin by allowing the breath to travel inwards and fall into the Muladhara. Feel the breath going more and more inwards. Beyond the heart. Beyond the belly. Downwards to the very root. That means you are exhaling the breath downwards. Offering the breath downwards, allow the breath to touch the Muladhara, and then breathe from there. It becomes the starting point of each breath. The Muladhara becomes the way to breathe. So feel your breath, your energy there.
The second step is mentally chanting the mantra, OM, into the Muladhara. Chanting OM purifies the chakra. You are now offering both the breath and the mantra. Mantra-breath-mantra-breath. Feel the Muladhara. Feel the energy around it. If your mind slips into other places, do not worry. Bring it quietly and gently back to where you intuit the Muladhara to be. Feel the energy.
The third step is mind. Notice how the Muladhara is behaving. How is it spinning? Clockwise or anticlockwise? Or not spinning at all? By offering the breath and mantra, in most situations, you will see the chakra has again started to spin either clockwise or anticlockwise. Both are fine. Do not worry. As long as it is spinning, it is activated. Allow it to spin as it naturally wants to. It may spin hard and fast, or very slow. Allow it to move with its own momentum. Do not change anything. Do not change its movement. Just observe. Again, if it is spinning, it is activated, and rest assured your fear and insecurities are gone. Congratulations, you have activated your first chakra!
Now move to the next chakra, the Svadhistana, the sex chakra, located two inches above the Muladhara. Repeat the previous process. Allow the breath to go deeply down the spine until it touches the Svadhistana, but not as far as the Muladhara. Do not worry if you cannot get it today. With practice, you will be able to intuit, subtly and astrally, the distinct location of both the Svadhistana and Muladhara.
Now activate the Svadhistana by offering both the breath and the mantra, OM. Notice how the chakra spins — clockwise or anticlockwise. Move it. Spin it.
Go next to the Manipura chakra, located in the solar plexus just opposite your belly-button. The Manipura is associated with feelings of hunger.
Breathe into your belly. Feel that the chakra is breathing. Because we breathe from the belly, this should be easy. As you inhale and exhale, you expand and contract the belly. As before, offer the breath to the Manipura by breathing into it, and breathing from it. Chant the mantra, OM, along with the breath. Watch the chakra spin either clockwise or anticlockwise. You can also consciously spin or rotate it, but better to just allow its natural movement.
Go next to the Anahata, the heart chakra. Modify the breath so that you are breathing from the heart in your chest. The breaths could be long or short, depending on how the Anahata is absorbing them. Chant the mantra, OM. Spin the chakra. You can easily do so by making very tiny clockwise or anticlockwise movements of the head.
This Anahata chakra meditation is best for when you are feeling anger, hostility and violence towards someone. By bringing your attention to the heart, and by making small rotations of the head, the hatred and fear will dissolve completely, allowing the positive qualities of love and compassion to arise.
Now go to the Vishuddha, located in the area of the throat. You can only breathe up to the heart, and cannot breathe from the throat, so leave the breathing out. Like the heart, in the throat too, you can rotate your head a little, and feel the energy moving. Chant OM, and spin the chakra.
Notice how the energy gets more and more subtle as you move upwards. Notice how the Shakti is flowing, and how it becomes more and more powerful as you practice it at home alone, or with friends, or with other sadhaks.
Now go to the last and final chakra, the Ajna, the third eye. Keep your attention on the third eye, and feel the little vibrations moving there. This chakra can also spin. Slowly and slightly rotate your eyeballs. After some time, remain still and just feel the vibrations moving or rotating clockwise or anticlockwise.
In all this practice, do not overdo anything. Do it within your physical comfort and limitations. These yogic practices have a great positive effect on your physical, emotional, and psychological issues.
Once you have opened all your chakras, and come to the Ajna, you will feel you are able to go into your I-AMness. So you can now sit in your I-AM, going directly into your Heart and feeling the Source.
There will no longer be any obstacles or restrictions. With practice, and by offering the three gifts of breath, mantra, and mind, you will gain very good control over the chakras and their blessings. But always remember the three offerings!
Even if you are at work, when a particular issue arises, go to the chakra associated with it. Activate that chakra, and you will find relief. It may not be immediate, but you must have faith that, with practice, relief can be instantaneous.
4. Spinal Flex
The Spinal Flex is used to further prepare the spine for Kriya Pranayama.
Sit with your spine straight. Keeping your spine straight is very important. Hands on your thighs.
Now breathe, inviting the breath into your body. Connect the spine with the breath. Inhale by expanding both your chest and belly, while rolling your shoulders back and out. Exhale by contracting both your chest and belly while rolling your shoulders forward and in.
If you like, after the inhale, you can wait some time with an expanded chest and spine. Feel the spine — its tension and stretch. Then release with the exhale.
5. Kriya Pranayama
Instead of doing the basic Ujjayi, you should now do Ujjayi while at the same time adding the mantra Om, this is called “Kriya” pranayama.
Kriya means moving the mind, breath and mantra (Om) to each chakra along the sushumna. So it is similar to the Ujjayi… except that the chakras along the sushumna and the Om mantra are added.
The key difference between Ujjayi and Kriya is:
Chanting Om at each of the chakras while inhaling and exhaling along the sushumna.
The similarity between the two is that we put the breath along the sushumna while we inhale (expanding the belly) and exhale (contracting the belly).
To explain further, as you inhale slowly (expanding your belly like in Ujjayi), mentally focus on each of the chakras (which are towards the back of the body along the spine) as you internally chant ‘Om’ on each one. This means that one long inhalation will see you rest briefly on each chakra – Muladhara, Svadisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddha, Ajna (Medulla), while you mentally chant – Om, Om, Om, Om, Om, Om on each one. You can adjust your speed depending on your breath. After a while you will be able to slow down the pace as you take longer breaths. But it should be comfortable, without any stress. You might pause for a few seconds as you complete this inhalation.
As you take a long exhalation (contracting your belly like in Ujjayi) while descending down the back from the Medulla to the Muladhara, again chant Om as you bring your attention on to each chakra – Om, Om, Om, Om, Om, Om as you come down the spine. This completes one round of the Kriya. You can start the second round immediately.
6. Yoni Mudra
PLEASE NOTE: Only do the Yoni Mudra once a day. People under the age of 16 should not do Yoni Mudra. Under no circumstances should anyone with serious eye problems (e.g., glaucoma, vitreous detachment, recent cataract surgery, eye stents, etc.), or eye infections, do the Yoni Mudra practices presented in this document or on the website unless approved by Rajivji.
Yoni Mudra is to be done at the end of sitting meditation.
Bring both your hands towards your ears.
Plug both your ears with your thumbs and place your index fingers over your eyelids using a very gentle pressure.
The middle finger of each hand is on either side of the nose, but do not close the nose (that will come in Level 3). Place your ring fingers on your closed lips.
Try to relax and hear the inner sounds and experience what lies within the emptiness.
Try to focus your attention on your Third Eye. You may see some revolving lights… or bright lights… or a star… or an image… or just dense darkness.
You may want a very slight pressure on your eyelids, but make it very gentle. Do not strain. Do not use too much pressure.
You can do this for a period of fifteen (15) seconds to even a minute… or even a little longer… but do not overexert yourself.
At the end of this, just gently unplug your ears, rub your index fingers VERY slowly and gently over your eyelids, and then sit for some time in your Third Eye.
Questioning to Whom?
The most basic and fundamental Self-Inquiry practice is questioning “to whom does this come?”. This practice allows energy to naturally flow upwards to higher centers and can be practiced during sitting practice and throughout daily life.
Sri Ramana Maharshi gave us the wonderful tool of Self-Inquiry, of what inquiry is: “to whom is this thing happening?”, or “to whom are these thoughts happening?”, or “to whom are these emotions happening?”.
This question, this inquiry… “to whom?”… is one of the most basic, and the most profound questions that has been posed, that has been put to us by this great saint. We need not answer this question mentally, but rather just FEEL it. For every thought that disturbs you, if you feel the question deeply in your Heart, what is the answer that you get as a feeling?
Maybe there is an event that has disturbed you. Maybe there is an emotion that has disturbed you. Maybe there is a thought that disturbs you. Maybe there is a person that disturbs you.
Ask: “to whom is this happening?” That’s it! Just this simple pointer.
It directly points to the background, to the Witnesser, or to a ‘gap’. The mind becomes completely silent. At that moment, it becomes still. Such a powerful tool has been given to us by Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Whatever situation you are in, whatever event happens in your life, just merely asking this question to yourself… “to whom is this happening?”… will completely silence your mind. The mind cannot go into anything else. It will just stop completely. That is how deeply this question impacts your mind. It consumes the mind. It completely swallows the mind.
Anytime you have a conflict in your mind, anything, just silently ask this question. Lovingly ask this question to yourself with feeling and a very deep interest in the answer.
Do not let it be just a shallow answer that you get. Just be very deeply interested in the answer. Be very deeply interested in the answer. This does not mean that you answer the question; the answer has to come as a feeling.
Feel it !… FEEL it ! ... “To whom is this happening?”
Asked with feeling, you will be directly pointed towards something at the background. A sense of emptiness. A sense of void. A sense of zero-ness, blankness, stillness, silence — whatever you can name. Maybe no names. Maybe nothing — no description, just is! That is it. That is how beautiful this question is.
And you have different ways to approach it. You can be in the present moment. Bring your attention to this present moment, and stay in the present moment and you will feel it. You do not have to answer, just stay ‘present’, and you will feel it.
And that is it. You will feel yourself as empty, devoid of any thought, devoid of any emotion, devoid of any feeling. Just the feeling of ‘is-ness’, the feeling of ‘I am here’, the feeling of ‘I exist’, the feeling that ‘I belong’, the feeling that ‘I am’, the feeling of ‘me being… here… now’. Just ‘is-ness’.
Or, you can just pay attention to something, focus on something, and feel it. Do not describe what it is… just feel it. What kind of relationship does that object have to you? Again, you are brought into that same state: emptiness, zero-ness, feeling, is-ness, being-ness, I am-ness.
So this ‘waking state’ practice that we can do should be incorporated at regular intervals into our day: while we are performing our work, or when we are indulged in any kind of habitual patterns of thoughts or emotions which are repetitive, we just ask this question ‘to whom?’, or we bring ourselves to the present moment, and we are… here.
And as you feel yourself in this moment, you feel a deep sense of emptiness because, when you close your eyes and feel the answer, all you can feel is infinite space within yourself. Infinite space, outside yourself. That is all. It is a space.
As you ask this question ‘to whom?’ in the gap between two thoughts — one thought rising, falling, and giving rise to another thought, falling, giving rise to another thought — the habitual pattern of thoughts, being one continuous stream, breaks. That is where you recognize the gap between thoughts, which ultimately is recognized as infinite space on which little thoughts keep popping up and down, dancing up and down.
And there you find — as you feel yourself as a Witnesser, as an emptiness, as zero-ness, as void — that it is a great way to bring yourself again and again to your Self, to the background Witnesser state of emptiness.
ISIP Burning practices are used to help students overcome vasanas and negative habitual tendencies that prevent reaching and maintaining higher states of consciousness. Burning practices are also highly effective tools for healing trauma and subconscious pain.
Understanding the Burning Process
As you go deeper in your practices you will begin to realize that no matter how many times you bring the mind back within there are certain habitual patterns you just cannot seem to get rid of. You realize that you are moved, or pulled, in a certain direction again and again, again and again, again and again.
These are called ‘habitual tendencies’, and even though the above practices of Churning help you to retain your peace and joy, they are only temporary ‘quick-fixes’ and do not offer a permanent solution as regards your habitual tendencies and reactionary behavior. These tendencies and reactions manifest themselves as deep-rooted patterns which replicate themselves over and over again. You become a prisoner of these patterns and suffer tremendous mental agony and a draining of your energy due to them.
As you engage in any form of spiritual or meditation practice, the first thing you begin to realize (or discover) is that you have these habitual patterns.
So what are the steps to reverse these patterns?
The Burning Process has 4 steps:
1. Understanding projections
One of the most important elements that feeds or nurtures your patterns are projections. Most conflicts in life are based on false projections we throw onto others, and others thrown onto us. Consider the scenario of an angry couple. They are always fighting with each other. They seem to stir up or trigger things in each other which results in a habitual pattern of aggression and hostility towards each other. What they both fail to understand is that the aggression was within them long before they even met each other. It is coming from the past. The enemy (husband/wife) was not the ‘trigger’, but something within themselves. Yet they blame each other for it. This is the case of false projection.
Therefore, understanding that most patterns of thought, action, belief, etc. originate from your projections is the first step.
When you develop a deep understanding and begin to see what role projections play in your suffering, then you will also realize that acting/thinking/believing on the basis of these projections is foolish. That is why before your reactionary behavior (act, thought, belief) begins to activate, your awareness must recognize the habitual pattern and you must change (or restrain) your usual act, reaction, thought or belief. Restricting your usual pattern of acting or reacting may not be pleasant at first, but later it will give you a wonderful sense of freedom and joy as you exercise your God-given will and make the right choices (Dharma).
3. Acceptance of the feeling
The third important practice is Acceptance. You begin to accept everything that comes your way. You do not try to escape anything. You accept the discomfort, the pain, the emotion, the feelings which may arise as a result of exercising restraint in your habitual act, thought or belief.
So while the first three stages of the waking state practice (noted above) were moving into the Witnesser, here you are allowing the emotions to be felt deeply. You allow the feeling to be just as it is.
When you do not try to fix the feeling by moving into anything, it automatically leaves you. Just like every wave that arises eventually falls back into the ocean — every feeling, every emotion, eventually falls back into that ‘ocean of Witnesser’. Everything is pointing to that. You only have to recognize it. Every emotion that arises, no matter how intense it is, eventually leads to the Witnesser if you are ready to hold that emotion and endure it without trying to do anything about it.
So the first level of practice was recognizing the space — the gap — through ‘looking’ or by asking the question “To whom?”. However, here it is different. Here every moment offers an opportunity. It is not eliminating anything, or bypassing anything, but actually embracing every feeling. Stop ‘labeling’ what you feel, and rather accept and face the feeling.
Every feeling becomes an opportunity to recognize the background Witnesser — every feeling.
Of course, neither restraint or acceptance is easy. It requires a great deal of patience, tolerance, and skill to perfect this stage. One of the biggest issues that will arise with this particular waking state practice will be that it will be difficult to ‘accept’ when the triggers bring about a discomfort, restlessness and rawness within the body, along with the subsequent emergence of the usual reactionary pattern (the ego position). The reaction seeks to correct the situation or event through a usual pattern of action (act, thought or belief), thus compromising the ‘acceptance’. It is very important when this occurs to recognize the working of one’s ego, to resist the temptation of going into the usual patterns, and to embrace the feeling no matter how difficult it feels.
4. Sitting in silence alone with the feeling
The last step, but not the least in the waking state practice, is to sit alone in silence with this feeling, this restlessness and rawness, for as long as it takes to ‘process’ it. It will finally subside naturally, leaving you with a feeling of joy, aliveness and juiciness within your body. The reversal of your habitual egoic patterns will bring about a cellular transformation within your body which can be recognized shortly after beginning your practice.
This whole process is called the ‘burning’ process.
Embrace the Burning
After you have ‘Churned’ using the above Kriya and Self-Inquiry practices in the first part of your practice, you must take some time to exclusively burn in your Heart. Do not try to escape any feelings that arise. Be true to your Self.
You should allow what needs to come out, come out, because Churning will bring a lot of things to the surface. And you should not go directly to the witnesser, because then you are bypassing the burning process.
You must embrace the burning process.
You must feel the burn in your Heart, the burn in your Being. All the vasanas, all the tendencies, need to be burned completely.
Stay in SILENCE when the burning is happening.
Burn for a few minutes every day. Recall some memory that you have, and try to burn with it. Feel how you ‘associate’ with an object, with a person, or an event, and then feel the ‘dissociation’ from them. Then try to burn with the ‘association’… allow yourself to burn with it.
You will start to feel great freedom as you progress with your burning practice and make this a part of your life, as another part of your sadhana.
Remember, you are not free unless, and until, you can look forward to your discomforts.
This does not mean to say that you must invite your discomforts, it only means that you are very accepting of them. You could be shaken, at times, but you are a warrior. You are not trying to escape discomfort. You could be feeling rawness. You could be shaken. This is normal, there is nothing wrong. The brave person, the brave sadhak, is the one who is able to embrace their discomfort without trying to project it on to anyone. You completely welcome it. You welcome the stiffness. You welcome the heaviness, the rawness that you feel — the shakiness that you feel — you completely welcome it. Why? — why shouldn’t you?
As you progress, you will see that you were in resistance to your own Self all of this time. And once you are able to accept yourself in the totality of your Being, then this no longer becomes an issue.
Nothing can irritate you outwardly — unless you let it.
Inwardly, you may feel many things, but at the same time, as you graduate into deeper and deeper levels of your Self, you will start to welcome all discomfort, so much so that you will start to feel a new sense of freedom in ‘suffering’.
You will begin to feel unimaginable love for yourself, and others, as you embrace the totality of your Self. You will start to feel love for everyone because they are giving you an opportunity to bring everything that needs to be burned in front of you. So, instead of blaming anybody, you should get to work, which is to burn!
Sincerely burn. Honestly burn. It is a gift for mankind. Earth is a Tapa Bhumi. You are here to be in Tapa. Tapa means ‘burning’. You are not just here to enjoy and bhog. That is not the only purpose.
When we begin our spiritual life, or when we are into spiritual life, we feel our life should always be lived in love and joy, don’t we? Well, it will be. Because along with this burning, there is great love. The kind of feeling, the sweet burning, that arises within you when you do not see your beloved for a long time. It is a burning, but it is very sweet, that is how it becomes.
However, initially, it is not like that. Initially all the stories will come, ‘Oh, he irritated me’, ‘Oh, she irritated me’, ‘Oh, I need to do this’, ‘I need to fix this’, or ‘I am going to behave like that’. We all get swayed into a story so easily.
But, when you understand that, “Hey, this is me, this is happening to me”, you should become silent, you should not say anything.
So be silent — observe what is happening within you when you get ‘triggered’ by a person or event.
That feeling/sensation is you, breathing inside of you. There is another you, breathing inside of you, at that time, telling you “come to me, be with me, attend to me. Do not throw me out like that. Do not throw me out to the other. Attend to me. I want you to attend to me”. This is what it is trying to tell you.
And when you listen to it, listen to that feeling, that sensation, it starts to merge into a sweet love, it transforms into that. That is what happens. But you all have got an idea about how to do this. Whenever you get triggered, whenever you feel irritated — now these are the labels that I am telling you. There is no such thing as ‘irritation’. There is no such thing as ‘anger’. These are labels that are applied. The fact is, it is YOU. Remember that. Just remember that. One step, only one step.
If anger arises, if irritation arises, understand… ‘it is me’.
Now, do not try to judge yourself and think, ‘Oh, it is a bad me’. No, do not say, ‘Oh, it is a bad me’ coming out. No, it is not the bad ‘you’ coming out. It is just You. You are not bad. Nobody is bad. It is just YOU.
Now, if it is just You, without any labels, what else can you do with it, except merge with it, be with it? And feel it. Feel what it is trying to tell you. Listen to it. What does it want to convey to you? Listen to it. Before you begin to judge it as ‘bad’, why not just listen to it first?
Maybe it has a message you are not aware of? Maybe it is trying to give you some message?
You are trying to give yourself a message, but, you have a habit. You do not ‘hear’ the other person, so how can you ‘hear’ your Self ? It has become a habit… you judge first… you have opinions first. And then you ‘hear’ the other person. So, it has become a habit, and that is why you have become so separated from your Self.
You have become fragmented inside, and separated not only from others, who are YOU only, the one Consciousness, but also separated from your Self.
And that is why you have no peace. Because you do not hear your Self, what you are trying to tell yourself. You do not listen to your inner voice.
Remember, every time any emotion takes place, instead of labeling it, or trying to fix it, or trying to do anything with it, first listen to what it says, what it wants to say. Try to be with it for some time.
Try to understand it. It is a language you do not understand yet. It is like a part of you is speaking Russian. But you do not understand it yet. Get to know the language. Once you get to know it, you will be able to understand yourself perfectly.
And then you may be able to understand everybody in this world, because, it will prove that none of us are separate from each other. The one universal Consciousness, breathing in different bodies, appearing in different bodies, but all are One.
Burning Guided Meditation
Note: This meditation can be done sitting upright or lying flat on the floor or a bed
Close your eyes, and feel the emptiness within you.
Now shift the attention to the one who was watching this emptiness.
From your Third Eye reverse your vision 180 degrees and watch the Watcher.
Locate the sense of the Watcher at the background and sink into the feeling of being that Watcher.
Relax yourself into the Watcher even as you are sitting. Try to trace the Watcher at the background and dissolve into being one with the Watcher.
Let any thoughts, feelings or experiences arise and fall like waves. Accept everything and allow everything by being that Watcher, the background Watcher.
Ignore the thoughts. Ignore the experiences. Ignore the sensations in the body, and simply latch on to the background Watcher as a feeling, and then release yourself into that Watcher.
You could visualize yourself… at the background itself… and melt into your Self.
You have a sense of your identity as a person, a being, an entity… dissolve that distinct identity into the background spaciousness and vastness.
Pay more attention to your exhaling breath by releasing it within as you dissolve and immerse deeper and deeper into the background space through every exhaling breath. Let every out-breath be a commitment to letting go of your body, your identity, your ego, your mind… everything you feel that you are.
When you sink or surrender to the background Watcher… to the background Self… do that with the entirety of your body… the entirety of your Being… as a full bodily devotion turn towards your own Self.
Let every part of your body, your cells, celebrate your existence at the background. Ignore what happens at the foreground in terms of emotions, thoughts and sensations, and engage yourself as a full body-mind-Being and devotionally turn towards the background, your Self.
Move backwards in a relaxed manner, away from any experience or perception… even of your own existence. Sink backwards away from what you may recognize as the centre of your being or ‘I’. You are prior to anything you can feel, perceive, or experience, and that includes even the feeling of your existence. Let the inhaling breath be short, and the exhaling breath be long.
Release and let go with every deep, exhaling breath.
Remember to exhale the breath inwards, to let go and to slide/sink deeper into the inner space with every exhalation.
Feel your body become heavy, as if pressed down by a great weight. Allow your body to feel heavy and be pressed down by that weight.
Your body is feeling heavy, weak and tired.
You may feel like sinking into your seat.
You may feel the boundary between your body, the seat, and the space completely disappearing. All merging into one, as nothingness.
You may not see, hear, touch, taste or smell as the senses seem to fade away.
Your mind is no longer aware of the outer world.
You may find it difficult, or feel it unnecessary, to open your eyes.
You are not interested in anything that is around you. You do not want to do anything. You are losing any sense of purpose.
You are no longer interested in catering to any of your needs. Feelings, sensations, emotions, happiness, unhappiness, pain and pleasure no longer exist for you.
You are becoming a big void.
Your consciousness is dissolving into space. Your breathing may appear to be slow, or to have stopped. Your brain no longer seems to function. Your head is as hard as a rock. Your body feels no sensation. Your mind is not recognized as existing. Nothing matters. This is like death.
The last energy of your body is withdrawing and being released into the background. There is no life. There is nothing that you can call existence.
You are death itself. You are free from death. You are prior to awareness itself.
Stay in this state. If anything else comes up, release it through your internal, exhaling breath — sinking deeper into the vast spaciousness which is the real YOU.
ISIP Affirming practices help us identify and embody higher states of existence by bringing awareness of our deeper nature into our everyday life. The practice of affirming our higher existence brings great prosperity and happiness into our spiritual and material life.
Affirming the Self
The above waking state practices for Churning and Burning cover two of the three pillars of your ISIP practice.
Affirming is the third pillar and a major tenet of ISIP. However, it is, in essence, not a ‘practice’, but the silent upholding of the TRUTH.
Essentially, ‘Affirming’ means to uphold the TRUTH with a strong belief and deep faith that “I AM the SELF” — irrespective of any situation or circumstance that may seem to provide evidence to the contrary.
Why Affirming is an important part of your ISIP practice:
At some point in time, it will be the experience of every serious practitioner that they may not be able to feel or abide in their Being, or I AM, no matter what they do.
This means that as an ISIP practitioner, you will not be able to recognize the background awareness or stillness for a certain period of time. A state of spiritual dryness or spiritual depression may take over at this time which creates a lot of anxiety, panic, or distress for you.
During such a period, you may feel stuck, depressed and begin to doubt yourself and your spiritual practice, or begin to question your spiritual teacher and the teaching. This often happens when your outer life — with respect to work, finances, relationships, or health — is in turmoil, creating a wall or separation between you and your Being. It feels like an exhausting and extremely de-motivating state because, no matter how hard you try, your I AM just does not seem to be available to you.
When this occurs, the usual pattern is to chase the SELF, to try and fix the problem. This act will only further complicate the situation. Not only will you not be able to feel your Being, but you will also suffer from more doubts, anger, frustration, etc. due to your not being able to feel or recognize your Self.
What do you need to do?
The first thing you need to do is understand that this is a very natural occurrence for an advanced practitioner. You must learn to accept this aspect of spiritual advancement if you are to continue on this path for a prolonged period of time and attain any meaningful results.
The second, and the most important thing you need to understand, is that the SELF is not an object that you can hold on to. This is a great misunderstanding of some practitioners — mostly due to the factually incorrect statement we often hear that tells us: “we must hold on to the SELF at all times”.
How can something intangible like a ‘mind’ possibly hold on to something which is, in fact, infinite and omnipresent? It is like trying to fit an enormous container into an infinitely smaller container, or a single wave trying to swallow the ocean. How can this be possible? It is not — but the mind always tries to trick you, and it manages to convince you that this is, in essence, what you need to do. That you need to try harder, push harder, work harder to attain the SELF; when it is obvious you will not be able to attain the SELF — because YOU ARE THE SELF.
It is important to understand that this pattern of trying to hold on to the Self is the reflexive, habitual pattern of the mind to find comfort and establish a false anchor to fix things. But the mind can never hold on to the SELF.
To ‘affirm’ means to say a big YES, irrespective of what the mind offers as evidence to the contrary. It means to surrender to the One Truth, that you are simply being what you are, and not thinking that you need to change yourself. And not desiring the experience of your SELF, for you are THAT at all times. You must reject the self-induced, false belief of the mind which tells you that you have been separated from your own Self.
The reason you experience the ‘dark night of the soul’ is because you need to learn, through personal experience, how to really trust and surrender, and to let go of the pride that you have in your spirituality, the ego pride. Consciousness — God — wants you to love Him unconditionally, to abide in the SELF unconditionally, and allow His Grace to descend upon you — and not through just your effort.
Your effort is there, and that is okay, but along with your effort you also start to develop a spiritual ego. To think, “Oh, I will go to my recognition and I will easily be able to recognize my Self.” Being able to abide in the SELF will not happen all the time, so do not be surprised when this spiritual dryness or depression appears.
Remember that it is very normal for this to happen, for you to learn to be humble. This is a big lesson. You are learning to let go, to surrender. You are learning the biggest lesson, and that is to have faith, deep faith.
The affirmation that, “I AM THAT I AM”, or “I AM the SELF”, empowers you to subsequently negate the influence that any spiritual dryness or spiritual depression brings about. Even though the affirmation seems like it is all taking place in the mind, it has the potential to penetrate deeper into the subconscious, even though your usual thought patterns may not allow you to initially believe that.
To summarize, ‘Affirming’ means having a deeply held faith in the Truth that you are the SELF, irrespective of whatever perception or experience the mind gives you. To have the inner certitude and trust, the deeply felt faith in your Heart that you are the SELF.
This perception and experience that you are the Self comes naturally as you Burn and Churn in your ISIP practices.
Sinking Into the Watcher
A phrase that we often come across in Advaita and Self-Inquiry is “the Watcher”. The Watcher is the SELF, which watches everything go by… completely unmoving and unattached to anything.
Unfortunately, we have lost our connection to the Watcher, our SELF, because we have become so habituated to objectifying everything that we have identified with the objects in the foreground, and become separated from our SELF, which is ever-present in the background.
So how do we remove our identification from the objects and reconnect with our SELF?
In traditional Self-Inquiry we are told that we need to get to know this Watcher and are given two practices:
1. To ‘step back’ and watch everything, creating a distance between the object and the one watching. This separates us from the objects and breaks our identification, our association with them. So we watch our thoughts… feelings… emotions… stories… memories, etc. and observe that they pass by like clouds in the sky.
2. Instead of simply observing everything, we are told to ‘watch the Watcher’, to locate the sense of the Watcher at the background and then to sink into that as a feeling.
We also have the Upanishads that teach us Atmanam Vidhi — “Know Thyself”.
“Thyself” is the Watcher, but when we actually look within to find the Watcher, the SELF, as we are instructed… we find nothing there. No matter how many times we try to locate our SELF within, we cannot find it. All we find is emptiness… nothingness… void.
So while the great scriptures and the Masters teach that we can “Know Thyself”, our own personal experience and logic tell us that it is not there, for no matter how many times we look, or how deeply, we cannot find it. So what are we missing? Perhaps the SELF can only be known in a way that we do not currently understand?
As mentioned above, we have become habituated to objectifying everything. Our knowingness is restricted within the boundaries of ‘objective’ knowledge. As a result, if we cannot objectify something, we conclude that it does not exist. This is because we have learned to know everything through the mind which utilizes the five senses of perception. And if something cannot be validated through our senses, we do not believe it exists.
However, the Masters and great scriptures teach us otherwise, and this gives us a vital clue… that the SELF can be known or perceived but, as suggested above, it is in a way that we do not currently understand.
Consciousness even provides us with a hint to this great mystery every night when we retire to bed. When we go to sleep, our body and the world disappear… and so do our five senses and all our objective knowingness… yet we know we exist.
What we do not realize is that when we are deeply asleep, we cuddle not just in our bed, but in our SELF — but because our awareness is weak, not deep enough, we miss this completely.
When the mind disappears, the world disappears. What remains is the SELF.
In Who Am I (#8) Sri Ramana states: “…when the world appears (to be real), the Self does not appear; and when the Self appears (shines) the world does not appear.”
So what makes the world appear and disappear? The mind. And what is feeding the mind? Our life-force. Our life-force feeds the mind and the senses. We are perceiving all objective knowledge through these instruments and that is why we miss the knowledge of the SELF… because it cannot be perceived objectively.
We completely overlook the fact that when we are asleep (or unconscious)… when the senses are not there… when the world is not there… when the mind is not there… when everything is retired and rolled back into the Source… that what remains is the SELF.
Therefore, to truly know the SELF, we first need to roll all the instruments of the mind (the life-force and senses) back into the SELF.
This is where ISIP proves to be such an effective technique, as each ISIP practice is designed in such a way that every form of existence is rolled back into the SELF.
When this happens, when the whole of existence is rolled back into the SELF, into the Source, an altogether different sense of knowingness… an intuitiveness… emerges that we call our ‘Sixth Sense’.
It is through our intuitiveness… our Sixth Sense… that we derive our knowledge of the SELF.
Once this truth is revealed to us, that the SELF is the source of everything, we then realize another important truth… that the SELF is not separate from the objects, for it is equally present in the objects and in the space between the objects. The One that illuminates everything is actually present in everything. It is all-pervading.
Whatever you are seeing, feeling, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling, or experiencing in any way… is the SELF.
After all, can the waves be different from the ocean? The waves may appear to be different, but this is only an appearance… for they are undeniably also the ocean. And in the same way, regardless of the appearance, everything is the SELF.
So this is the first step… to roll all forms of existence back into the SELF… so that the SELF is revealed as the source of everything. To bring the world, every part of existence, to the SELF. In other words, to bring the foreground (world), to the background (SELF).
Now we come to the second step, which is to bring the SELF (background) to the world.
I feel the world is like curd, it looks very enticing, very wonderful to have, but often, as you know, curd can be very sour… and so it is with the world.
And I feel the SELF is like sugar… sweet.
So what we can do is bring the curd (the world) to the sweet (the SELF)… or the sugar to the curd, the result is the same… sweetness. We are bringing the foreground to the background, or vice versa. Our existence then becomes sweet. Happiness. Joy.
However, if we identify with only one (the background or the foreground), we will miss the other — the Totality.
So be attached with neither position, instead be in the middle. Otherwise we will be identified with only one polarity, and become stuck there. If we stay only with the waves, we will miss the depths of the ocean, and if we stay in the depths of the ocean, we will miss the waves.
This is very important to understand, as one way represents death, and the other represents life. We have to learn, through our ISIP practices, how to integrate these two polarities… how to bring death into life… and how to bring life into death. And this is possible only when we are in the middle.
Once this happens, you will find yourself beyond life and death… beyond all polarities… and then, you will truly KNOW the SELF.