February 2015 By Shameem Akhtar Getting into meditation without grounding the mind with asana and pranayama is risky, warns Shameem Akhthar There is an alarming rise of meditators who are not really physically fit, because they are convinced that it is somehow crass to focus too much on the body. On the contrary, asana practice grounds the mind. In chakra physiology, the mind’s elements – of air and ether – belong to the higher chakras. If these chakras are activated without being grounded in the lower chakras of water and earth – they will turn a person flighty, and create loopy thinking. This is somewhat akin to the importance of grounding a powerful electrical apparatus, which would otherwise electrocute the user. Grounding in yoga comes from asana and pranayama practices. Some of the actual dangers of activating the higher chakras without grounding yourself can create the “demons” of depression. In fact, the Bihar School of Yoga founder, Swami Satyanandaji, advises against yoga nidra when clinically depressed, because certain meditations will magnify a particular feeling that is currently overwhelming you. Which is why you may even hear of those who feel very angry or restless when meditating! Another interesting and negative aspect of having excessive ether element is a state of delusion. In fact, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras warn against delusion as a real threat to the yoga practitioner, possibly because a delusionary approach to what you have achieved actually releases the monster of the ego in a more cunning and attractive form! Anodea Judith in Chakra: Wheels of Lifewarns that an overactivated vishudhi chakra can create the demon of ‘lies’ which seems to imply delusions or telling lies to oneself or others. When the third eye is over activated (whose element is light) it can cause nightmares, sleeplessness, and illusionary thinking. Judith says that even the crown chakra activation can cause “alienation, depression, confusion”. Other aspects of higher chakra over-activation (caused by meditation without the grounding power of asana, pranayama and karma yoga practice) are hyper-anxiety, self-directed anger, shame, and attachments. At the physical level, it may act up as vision problems, headaches, problems with the brain, impaired immunity, weak breathing, circulatory and heart problems, respiratory problems and thyroid malfunction. So, if you really love meditation, try to incorporate some physical aspect of yoga to ensure you avoid the pitfalls listed above. Tadasana: (Palm-tree pose) It has the rare quality of both stimulating the mind while calming it. Stand on your feet, keeping them a foot apart. Inhale, raising arms overhead as shown, interlocking fingers to turn them upward. Exhale. Rise up on your toes, stretching the whole body as if you are being drawn up from above. Hold for a few seconds, with normal breathing. Later with regular practice increase time up to one minute. To release, inhale, and exhale, lowering arms and feet back to original position. Repeat thrice. Benefits: Cures or controls many chronic problems like constipation, insomnia, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, depression, anxiety, knee issues or spinal ailments. Emotionally stabilizing and gives a mood spike. About the author Shameem Akthar has trained as Yoga Acharya with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, Kerala, and is a master-trainer in neuro-linguistic psychology. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://jaisivananda.blogspot.com
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