Antar Mouna (Part 1)

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Lectures given at Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, November 14–22, 1967, during the First International Yoga Teachers Training Course


Antar mouna belongs to the fifth step of raja yoga. The fifth step of raja yoga is classically and academically called pratyahara, which literally means withdrawal or retreat. It is very interesting when we realize just how unscientific we are in our approach to spiritual knowledge, when we see how most of us would like to practise dhyana(1) immediately, without any proper understanding at all. We fail to understand that it is not possible to be in dhyana without the help of the senses and the mind. Unless we are able to withdraw our senses in a systematic manner without any touch of suppression, it will not be possible for us to go into dhyana. Therefore, antar mouna, being one of the practices of pratyahara, is a wonderful practice to learn.

By the practice of antar mouna you achieve mastery over a great part of your mind. Various other techniques are dangerous for some people. These people dive into concentration without having voluntary control over their mind. They have not mastered their mental functions sufficiently to be able to enter safely the state of consciousness they are not accustomed to. When they come to the point of concentration in meditation, they fall down unconscious as though struck by a peculiar kind of sickness. For example, I recall the time when I gave concentration exercises to a large gathering of people. Hundreds of them fell down unconscious. From this experience I can assure you that if you practise pratyahara first, you will be much better off. It is essential to master certain sense functions first and then certain functions of the brain up to a certain level before attempting higher practices.

Withdrawal of the senses is pratyahara. But what is withdrawal of the senses? There are five senses, five sense experiences and five sense objects. How is it possible to withdraw the senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching? First you close your eyes and become aware of the remaining sense experiences around you, however disturbing they may be. For example, there may be a sound in the next room. You must try to analyze the sound, understand it and grasp its significance. You must separate the sense from the sense experience and only become aware of the experience of sound vibration. To illustrate further: a bell is ringing. First we consider the ear, second the bell, and third the sound of the bell. You must be aware of the sound which is the sense experience. The bell, the sense object, belongs to the outer world. By realizing it, you accomplish the first step of sense withdrawal.

It is very important to realize that it is not an absent-minded comprehension, but a present-minded awareness of the objective reality that you are trying to grasp. You may take one experience and analyze it fully, or you may take many, one right after the other. But sooner or later you must come to the point where you are able to analyze and understand the perception. Then the experience alone remains – devoid of the object, and later it is devoid of the subject as well. If you can achieve this, then you have perfected the first stage of antar mouna where you get rid of external experiences.

Now let us see how we practise the first stage of antar mouna. It is possible to practise the first stage anywhere. For instance, if you are a passenger in a car, you just close your eyes and try to remain outside of your experiences. Now, try to observe mentally what you feel, hear and smell. You will find that in a short time all external sounds and objects have disappeared from your mind. Your senses have become withdrawn, although of course not completely. This then is the first step of antar mouna which, as pratyahara, is the fifth limb of raja yoga. It is the first step in esoteric life and the first step to samadhi.(2)


When the sense perception of which you have now become aware comes to you consciously without any feeling of disturbance, it means that you are able to understand it. If there is a disturbing sound and you practise awareness of it, it will become less and less disturbing. It will become little more than an ordinary sound. It will convey no meaning to you as to what is producing it, why, where, when, etc. Your mind will turn inward and become indifferent to the external sounds. After this, you must be aware of any spontaneous thought that may arise. You must have the awareness that you are thinking certain thoughts under compulsion and also that there are thoughts that are coming to you without your wanting them. The thoughts coming to the conscious level from the subconscious level are called samskaras(3).

If you sit for a while, a number of thoughts will come to you without any reference or context. For example, you may be eating a delicious dinner, and suddenly a thought comes to you that the previous night you did not have a good rest. This thought is irrelevant. While resting in bed various thoughts may suddenly come to you. These are called spontaneous thoughts. They are embedded in your personality and do not necessarily need any external stimuli. If you see a church and a pious or evil thought comes to you, it is not spontaneous. But if the thought of a mango comes instead, then it is a spontaneous thought, because it was not stimulated by the sight of the church. It is a voluntary expression of a certain part of your personality, which modern psychology terms subconscious. In Vedanta it is referred to as the sukshma sharira or subtle body.

Sukshma sharira, or the astral body in the doctrine of karma, is known as a samskara, the latent impression embedded in your life. Just as smoke comes out of a coal fire in a kitchen, in the same manner a few thoughts come out of all the accumulated thoughts. What we usually do the moment these thoughts come to us is take them up if they are good ones, and send them back if they are bad or painful. The bad thoughts that are sent back are not exhausted or used up unless, of course, you are a ‘jnani’ or a ‘viveki’.(4)

Practically all bad thoughts are sent back to the subconscious while most of the good ones are exhausted, the result being that the subconscious vessel is filled with bad thoughts and devoid of good ones. In the practice of antar mouna we concentrate on calming down the disturbances of the indriyas or senses (which is natural on account of your circumstances and environment) and become aware of spontaneous thoughts which arise from the subconscious. The best way to accomplish this is to make your mind aware that you are going to practise being aware of your thoughts. Say to yourself, “I am trying to be aware of my thoughts.”

Usually it is different with each individual. Here are a few examples. You feel that you are sitting in a corner of your mind and looking at the inner space or chidakasha, constantly repeating the mantra(5) “I want to see my thoughts. Which thought is passing through me? Am I thinking or am I not thinking? What am I thinking?” Sometimes even while you are aware of the entire thought process, a thought slips by without your noticing it. Only when it has passed the area of your observation do you become aware of it. For example, “I was thinking about a mango, but while I was thinking about it, I was not aware that I was thinking . . .”

Sometimes there is momentary absent-mindedness. To correct this there is another practice. If you sit down on your veranda, for example, and look down the road – and the road is clear, no one is on the road – think that it is your consciousness. Then someone appears on the road. You see shadows moving. They are the shadows of your thoughts. That is the higher state of antar mouna. This will be possible only for those who are good at visualization. Then the road disappears and the shadows remain.

The third way is to act as a witness or sakshi as it is called in Vedanta(6). We say, “I am a witness and I want to know what thoughts are in my mind.” Now, sit down and try to remain aware of your spontaneous thought process. You may experience that the whole chidakasha is empty and there is no thought. Then you should say to yourself, “Now, no thoughts are coming, and I am only aware of the empty space.” This practice becomes more and more inspiring and enlightening as you proceed further and further. If you practise this for about two months, you may even see yourself in the lap of your mother at the age of two. In this process the mind usually goes back into the past and never into the future. Women find this practice easier than men.

It is good to study Vibhooti Pada in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras7 is good to study. It is a method by which a yogi is able to go back as far as his previous life. In our practice, we are able both to analyze our psyche and uncover our subconscious mind.

So, in the second stage of antar mouna, when you are supposed to witness carefully the spontaneous flow of your thoughts, you may be able to observe your thoughts either before they come to the conscious plane or while they are on the conscious plane or after they have left the conscious plane. It all depends on the careful observation and attitude of the mind. If you are very alert, you may be able to predict a thought before it comes to the conscious plane, but if you are absent-minded, you may not be able to detect the thought until the next day. An average person is not only able to think one thought at a time, but can think of many thoughts in the fraction of a second.

Outwardly we feel that we think, but actually the thinking takes place in the subconscious plane of the mind. It is like looking out at a crowd of people where you are able to see all the faces but not any one individually. You may, however, remember them the next day. A thought does not take much time, especially if it is spontaneous. A conscious thought takes longer. While practising this, an aspirant should be constantly alert, never moving the body, never scratching, never sleeping. One should be aware of whatever one does physically, mentally, subconsciously, voluntarily, and involuntarily, at all times.

This is the path of introspection. It is not a good experience for most of us. You must always remind yourself of this in advance. In practising introspection, the impurities come up. It is only in samadhi, and not in dhyana that all the purities such as peace, bliss and light appear. The practice of antar mouna expels negative thoughts because it is a kind of self-eliminator of the negative impurities. You will either enter a state of chidakasha where there are no thoughts, a vacuum state, in which you will only remember bad acts or see all the people who caused you pain or trouble. The longer you practise, the more experiences you will see. It only becomes clear in the end. Symbolic expressions come up. Things that your conscious mind hates to remember appear. This will only happen when you have stepped into the subconscious.

If you have these subconscious explosions during antar mouna the best method of eliminating them is to write them down in a diary or to tell someone whom you trust. That is very important. The most common experiences are snakes, good food, hundreds of people moving everywhere, jungles, swimming in water, the fear of being drowned and flight in space. We now have the conscious manifestation of all the thoughts, desires and experiences that we do not want to know. They must constantly be analyzed. For example, if you have the thought of fear of drowning, it is not sufficient to say that you just have a fear complex. Rather, it may be looked upon as a symbolic manifestation of some action or actions in the past which you do not want to remember. There must be interpretation of these thoughts.

The next questions are, “When should we practise this and for how long should we continue? When should we proceed on to the next stage?” The moment you find the subconscious manifestations becoming greater and greater, then you should go on to the next stage.

When should we give up the second stage and go on to the next? Thoughts come and go; that is the second stage. Next, visions appear and you cannot understand them; you are afraid of them, and conscious thoughts become less and less. Now is the time for the yogi to go on immediately to the third stage. The reason why the yogi does not continue on and on with the second stage is because he knows that all his thoughts can never be exhausted. To a certain extent you have to manifest them and then you must check them.


While you were practising the second stage of antar mouna, you visualized shadows in the form of visions or dreams. If these shadows come to you in a horrible way, that is, if they are very bad experiences, it is time to proceed to the third stage of antar mouna.

It will not be difficult for you to understand the third stage, because you do the exact opposite of the second stage. You may say that it is a counter-pose. Unlike everything being spontaneous in the second stage, in the third stage everything is done at will. You should not allow any spontaneous thought to arise unless you want it. If a spontaneous thought does come, then you should immediately try to dispose of it. Do not allow it to occupy your mind. This is very important.

How do you get rid of a spontaneous thought? Close your eyes and start thinking about some theme. It must consist of a sequence of events that were thought by you in a conscious manner. For example, you might say, “I have misplaced my notes. Now, where did I see them last? At home? No, I remember that I took them from home in the morning.” You see, you must invite a thought and then expand it in a definite way. But do not let a thought come of its own accord. If, for instance, a thought comes and says, “‘Please think about me,” you should reply, “No, I do not want you, I want only thoughts that I will think of.”

This is an exercise to develop a conscious thought and then to eliminate it. If any conscious thought or experience that has taken place in your life is not eliminated, or at least not immediately analyzed, it will proceed directly to the subconscious mind. Once it enters your subconscious, it becomes a samskara and is a ‘behind the scenes’ influencing factor in life.

Therefore, in spiritual life you must be able to recall at will all the past experiences of your life. And if you are looking at impulses, you must give all the thoughts to them. The whole thing should be clear before you. For example, you should be able to see nervous excitement when you see yourself in a mob attacking someone’s home. You just cut off your mind and say ‘get out’. This is how we eliminate the conscious thought. Psychology also accepts the idea that if any conscious experience is properly analyzed, it loses its force, and that is the purpose of this exercise.

I feel that when you are given the freedom to express any thought of your choice, you should select a bad thought rather than a good one, because it is very easy to think of good thoughts and it is also very easy to get rid of them. But it is very difficult to get rid of bad thoughts. Therefore, we should try to develop a method or technique by which we are able to throw out the negative thoughts from our mind.

For example, a good thought comes to you about a certain person, and you start to think that he is a good man, a wonderful friend, etc., and then you think one very bad thought about him and it destroys all the good thoughts. Now, you wish to throw off this bad thought and resume all the good thoughts, but you find that you cannot. It usually happens this way and people spend sleepless nights and restless days worrying about the bad thought. They have probably tried several ways of getting rid of the bad thought, but almost always fail.

Therefore, I have used this third exercise in antar mouna in which we invite a bad thought or at least a thought that we consider as bad. We dwell on the thought for a while and become one with it, then we give our mind a jerk and throw the thought out. A stage of vacuum should arise in the place of the thought; that is, there should be no thought in the mind.

At this time you should invite another new thought to your mind and start the exercise again. When the bad thought comes, think it over, dwell on it for a while and then throw it out. I must remind you again that it is no use thinking of good thoughts during this exercise. You must only think of those thoughts that have a destructive influence on your mind.

In spiritual life, eliminating bad thoughts is a very useful practice. This is the only way that you can know the fundamental nature of a thought. If this practice is continued for fifteen or more days, you can develop a spontaneous psychological conditioning with which you will be able to set aside any thought at will. At least you will not spend any sleepless nights or restless days. You will know how to set aside the bad thoughts.

I can tell you of my personal experience. I can bring any thought to my mind and then at will I can get rid of it. I can throw out the most important and burdensome thought. It does not even take me a second. I just perceive it and then throw it away. I do not have to think, “Oh, this thought is coming and I do not want it.” If it is not something new, I do not share the thought with my will. It is something that is given to the mind when you practise this third stage. But you must practise it many times. You must remember one important thing while you are practising, which is that you are practising antar mouna and not just merely thinking.

There are also thoughts that have no form. They do not have any particular dimension. You will not have any trouble disposing of them. I am only concerned about good and bad thoughts, divine and undivine. The formless thought such as “I must take a bath” or “I must go to the toilet” etc. are called nitya karma or routine thoughts. They do not create a samskara. You must not concern yourself about these thoughts. You must always take thoughts of a very heavy dimension. A typical thought would be “I have an enemy who has been troubling me for so many years. Whenever I am conscious of him I feel terrible and want to kill him.” This is the type of thought you must dwell on and then dispose of at will, quickly.

I believe that if you think of more than three thoughts in one practice, it will be too much for you. But you must complete one whole theme, and the theme must be of your own planning. By this I do not mean that you should complete the theme right up to the present – that is, think up to a certain extent and then cut it off.

Do not repeat the same thought twice, because that is known as brooding. When you think about a certain place in one thought scheme and then the place returns in a later thought, you should say, “What is the use of this same thought again?” The mind has a certain brooding tendency – it likes to return to the same thought again and again. This tendency is very dangerous as far as the development of neurosis is concerned. When modern psychology analyzes the causes of neurosis, it finds that this brooding over the same point over and over again is one cause. When you become aware that this brooding over one point again and again is the nature of the mind, you should be especially aware of it in your practice of antar mouna.

When you finish a theme you must tell yourself, “Yes, now this thought is finished, this will not be thought of again.” If you like the topic very much, you will not stop thinking about it completely. Then you must say, “I am going to think about this topic again,” and so on. There will come a certain movement in your thinking process and your mind will say, “Enough,” and the thinking about the topic will be finished. Possibly some portion of the thought will remain. There may be a mild suppression of the topic, but it will be only mild because most of the topic will have been analyzed. Part of the topic will again return to you. But why should there even be a mild suppression? You should analyze it thoroughly by the method of being the impartial witness, witnessing at will. The thought does not come up on its own, you must bring it up.

This third exercise will help you a little later in the future planning of things because, after all, future thinking and the materialization of your future thoughts depend upon your present correct thinking. You should be able to fulfil any future plan within a few months or years after practising this third exercise. It depends on the individual. But future planning should be controlled; it should not be spontaneous. You must form a definite pattern to follow. The point is that you should only include the item of the future planning after you have gained a certain control over your psychic dimensions. Then the mind will lead you to the right point. You cannot practise this without having attained perfection in the previous exercises; they are interdependent.

The first stage is to be practised until an undisturbed attitude to outer objects has developed. The second stage should be practised until the horrible dimensions of the psyche have appeared. Then and only then should you proceed to the third stage.

The third stage is very important. It is one of the meditations that can be found in a differently expressed way in Buddhist meditation. It is constant self-analysis; we call it atma vichara. This third exercise is the preliminary stage of atma vichara. Modern psychology has something similar, but I believe that when this particular technique is introduced into the psychological field, it will be much better. Some scholars from both the East and the West have assimilated some of it, but of course not in toto.

This method is only helpful for those having an independent psychic system; that is, having their psyche and thinking system under their control. It is not for those who are unable to think or are suffering from neurosis. It is only when you have developed the power of imagination and become aware of your difficulties and when you come to know that there must be a method that will help you, that this practice will help you. Diary writing is an important method that can be added to this practice.

Again, you should pose a thought, dwell on it for some time and then get rid of it. This process must be strictly followed. If any other thought spontaneously comes to you, it is your duty to reject it immediately. After this you should practise a state of thoughtlessness for a few moments before you take up another thought.

Sometimes you will find (if you are realistic, of course) that you are thinking about a thought that came spontaneously. The spontaneous thought gets mixed up with your conscious posing of thoughts. Therefore, it is better if you choose more than one thought and then pick out a certain thought with which you will develop a theme. In this manner you will make sure that you will not select a spontaneous thought. For instance, you may say mentally, “Now I am going to think about this trip or that trip or my friend,” etc. You must also remember that you must choose the thought that is the most difficult for you to get rid of. It is no use choosing an easy thought.

During the practice of antar mouna you will find yourself, for a short time, engrossed in a state of momentary depression because the mind revolts against analysis. Every mind does not like to be analyzed. The more you try to practise the more resistance you will meet. Minds that are attached to worldly pleasures do not like to be analyzed. Therefore, it is best if you practise this exercise simply and as naturally as you can.

You will also come across the experience of rejecting a thought without completely analyzing it. This may take place for any number of reasons, depending on what your thought was about. Here part of the thought becomes suppressed. It will remain unexpressed in your subconscious mind. You will not be able to help it, as you know that vasanas8 are endless. If you think that you should think of a thought completely, you can be sure that you can never finish it in this life. There is no end to it; one thought leads to another and that thought to another and so on. What I am trying to explain is that it is better to think a thought two-thirds through and then get rid of it, rather than brood over the same thing day in and out.

If you continue brooding, the thought will only embed itself further and further or deeper and deeper in your subconscious. You must think then that a thought must be checked at a particular stage and not be allowed to continue further. The third practice of antar mouna is now over.

Part 2 will appear in the next issue.


1 Dhyana (meditation) is the seventh limb of raja yoga (yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi).

2 Samadhi (sublime equanimity) is the aim of all spiritual techniques.

3 Samskara is a past impression, unfulfilled desire, etc., which sets up impulses and trains of thought.

4 Jnani or viveki – practitioners of advanced techniques of jnana yoga (yoga of knowledge and discrimination between the real and the limited).

5 Mantra is a word or sentence having some influence when recited. Mantras are usually sacred syllables.

6 Vedanta is one of the six great systems of Indian philosophy. Literally, Vedanta means end or higher point of wisdom of the Vedas.

7 Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are the essence of yoga, consisting of four padas (chapters).

8 Vasanas are attachments to the objects of one’s wants.

Antar Mouna (Part 2)

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Lectures given at Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, November 14–22, 1967, during the First International Yoga Teacher Training Course

Stages of Antar Mouna

1. Awareness of sense perception: Breath consciousness, hearing and smelling without conception of sense object

2. Awareness/visualization of spontaneous thought process or thoughtless state: First thoughts of subconscious

3. To pose and dispose of thoughts at will: Selection of theme, impartial analysis, disclosure/removal of fears

4. Awareness of spontaneous thoughts and disposal of thoughts at will: Subconscious affairs of deepest sphere, awareness of random perceptions

5. Thought freeness (pratyahara finishes): Solitary beams of unconsciousness, tendency to enter laya (non-consciousness)

6. Awareness of sleep state of consciousness


After you have practised the first three stages of antar mouna you will find that after the third stage, before you are able to pose a thought, thoughts will spontaneously come to your mind. Their frequency, that is, the number of thoughts coming one after another, will create so much pressure that you will find it difficult to pose any thought at all. It is at this stage that the fourth stage should come in.

In the fourth stage you must learn to become a witness of the spontaneous thoughts. Sometimes you do not know which thoughts you have seen and which thoughts you have not. There are so many thoughts, you do not know whether you are thinking or not. At this time you should just remain an impartial witness to all the confusion. It is something like shankhaprakshalana. In the beginning, undigested food comes out and later the mixed material comes. You do not know which is rice, bread, fruit, etc. This is what the psychic confusion should be like at the end of the third stage and at the beginning of the fourth stage of your practice. You are aware that you are thinking, but you do not know what you are thinking of.

Suddenly, during all this psychic confusion a very clear and prominent thought arises from nowhere. It is so clear that you are able to pick it up easily. You must follow this thought. It is a projection of your deeper consciousness. It arises from the deepest sphere of the subconscious. Unfortunately, this thought that arises is almost always related to a bad event or experience. Because it comes from the deepest sphere of the subconscious it may be a thought from the past, or perhaps a future thought. It is a precognitive thought and is therefore spontaneous and as such, it must be got rid of. This thought should not be recognized; it should not be accepted. It is a very clear thought, but it is somewhere beyond thought dimensions.

So, in the fourth exercise we must become aware of the spontaneous thought and then dispose of it immediately. The emergence of a spontaneous thought from the confusion and pandemonium of many thoughts is in many cases precognitive and premonitory. We can safely attribute this particular thought which has arisen from the confusing system of thinking to the deeper layers of the subconscious mind. As you probably know, the deeper you penetrate your subconscious personality, the clearer and more realistic are the thoughts that appear. But the intellectual and emotional levels of your thought will become impractical. They are idealistic and not always true.

These thoughts which come up from the deeper layers of the subconscious belong to the dimensions of truth, vision and the lower class or a lower quality of prophecy. It is in this context that you should look upon and understand the psychological background of the different kinds of prophecies made by occultists, astrologers and fortune-tellers. These people have at their disposal their own method of reaching into the subconscious mind.

When you develop such clear spontaneous thoughts in the beginning of the fourth exercise, you will find that it always informs you of an imminent accident or of some difficulties that you will encounter shortly. Aspirants who want to go still further in this practice should immediately dispose of these thoughts at will. But those who wish to immerse themselves in such spontaneous thoughts and keep on thinking about them for a longer period will find their spontaneous thoughts coming through unknown areas of the past. They will be surprised. But with that the depth of the experience will end and they will have to begin their practice all over again.

For instance, the spontaneous thought of a snake arises, and it comes into your room to bite you. It is the type of thought that will make you wonder, ‘Did the snake bite me or did it escape?’ If you keep on thinking about this, you may be able to know more details of the thought, but you may not be able to find the meaning for yourself. In due course you will find that your psychic system is disturbed. You must then start the practice from the beginning.

Therefore, I can tell you that at this stage the awareness of spontaneous thoughts, however precognitive or premonitory, and however prophetic, will only prove to be an obstacle. I have seen many psychic mediums and psychic individuals stranded at this point, unable to go beyond. If you are able to wait and resist these temptations I can assure you that you will be able to go deeper and deeper into your subconscious mind. You will go deeper within the self.

Now, there will come a stage where the spontaneous thoughts will cease; there will be no more thoughts. There is a state of mental vacuum. In the case of the aspirants who can get rid of the previously mentioned temptations, this state of vacuum will come. While in this vacuum state you should have the constant awareness that ‘I am practising antar mouna.’ You are aware of yourself – ahamkara, ego remains and there is the feeling and perception of external things from time to time. You become so quiet internally that you are unable to see any thought and at the same time you hear, for example, a train passing, the clock chiming and then you may not hear them. It is an off and on type of experience. It is a state when sometimes your faculties of perception are turned inward and sometimes turned outward. It is similar to what is experienced during the first part of sleep. You call it drowsiness, when you are aware of everything and then for a few moments you lose the awareness of what has happened around you. Certain types of experiences come to you and others are blocked.

You might be awake at three in the morning just lying in bed thinking about something. You must have experienced this condition. You may be thinking about anything, spiritual or non-spiritual. While you are thinking, a train, car, etc. may pass and you do not hear them even though you are not sleeping. Then, simultaneously, there is a bell ringing off in the distance and someone is banging your door – you hear the bell but you do not hear the banging. In Sanskrit, this condition is called antar mukha vritti. It means ‘modification of internal mind’ – when the mind is looking inside. It is inert or dead to some of the experiences of the senses but is capable or receiving certain sensations.

When your mind becomes free from any kind of thought and when it is aware of only some sense experiences, then pratyahara is completed. The fifth limb of raja yoga known as pratyahara ends here. After this it becomes dharana. And so, the fourth stage of antar mouna, which is the practice of pratyahara, opens the door to dharana.


The fifth practice of antar mouna does not require much effort on your part. It becomes an automatic development of your consciousness which was prepared by the practices of the four previous stages. You cannot practise the fifth stage without having perfected the first four. Each stage must lead into the other; each must prepare you for the next.

You will have the experience similar to that of fainting. You will have the experience of soaring between the consciousness, sub-consciousness and small parts of the unconsciousness. You will be in the unconsciousness for a short while, in the consciousness for a short while, but you will be in the subconsciousness for a greater period of time. Your chitta vrittis1 keep on floating simultaneously from this end to that end. The stage of unconsciousness becomes stronger and more permanent. The spontaneity of thought has been checked by cutting the link in the chain of thoughts.

You will now find yourself in a thoughtless and thought-free state, where you are sometimes aware of external affairs and at other times not. You will find that for a short while you are conscious, for a longer while subconscious, and for a very short time unconscious. The time you spend in the unconscious increases as you progress in this stage.

If proper methods are not followed in the fifth stage, you will find that within a few weeks you will be landing yourself in a state of mind where you become more non-conscious, less subconscious and still less conscious. You may find yourself non-conscious for about half an hour. For example, when you are practising you are aware of your surroundings and then you go to the different planes of your psyche. Then you find that you have been non-conscious for half an hour. You do not know how to check this. What will happen then? I can tell you that if it is not counter-attacked within a few weeks, you will enter into jada samadhi. Jada means inert, dead or lifeless. You develop jada samadhi in which your consciousness enters into an unmanifested state, avyakta. There are hundreds of spiritual aspirants practising this jada samadhi, never realizing that they have made a mistake. The practice of jada samadhi only leads them astray from the spiritual path and into the kingdom of tamas(2).

We are coming to the last stage of antar mouna now – the stage where prominent spontaneous thoughts arose from the depths of the subconsciousness. They were of a precognitive and premonitory nature. You were allowing them to arise from the subconsciousness and merely observing them, no matter how many came. You will find that within a few days they will cease. You are experiencing a state of vacuum, of thought-freeness.

In this stage you will find it very difficult to pose a thought or even see the manifestation of any thought. This state is known as nirvichara, and it means no thought, no contemplation, and no thinking process at all. But it remains only for a short time. It is always followed by a short period of non-consciousness lasting five to ten minutes. When this happens, you must develop an awareness of the three stages of consciousness. How will this be done? Through the sixth and final stage of antar mouna.


How do we develop the awareness of the three states of consciousness? Much depends on the individual. But I will give you my example. When I sit for kriya(3) number five, I sometimes find the thought process becoming suspended and I am always entering into a state of semi-sleep or drowsiness. When this happens, I immediately direct my awareness away from the spontaneous thought-freeness of kriya number five and at once become aware of the sleep consciousness. I should become aware that I am sleeping. I should think, ‘The sleep consciousness is manifesting in me.’ I should recognize these symptoms: lightness of body or heaviness of the body, loss of memory and losing all sense of the surroundings.

All kinds of symptoms may be present; physical, mental or psychic. I must then physically follow the descent of the consciousness. After all, sleep removes consciousness. It is not a startling event, but it is something usual. How does it take place? Why, for instance, when my thought process is suspended, do I see visions and then become non-conscious for a few moments? You must remain alert and keep yourself so conscious that the whole process of sleeping becomes clear.

Sleep is a mental condition where the contents of knowledge, which contain the objects of experience and thinking, are locked away from the mind. It is when the mind is free from any object or knowledge that sleep comes. It is a condition of non-objective awareness. It should be closely followed through an alert attitude of awareness. If you blink for a moment you have lost the awareness for the time it took you to blink.

If you break the continuity of consciousness for one second, it will take you 15 to 20 minutes to come to your senses. It is like a person going down into a deep well with the help of a strong rope. As long as he has hold of the rope he can go into the deepest and the darkest well without any fear or danger. He is always sure of coming back up. But suppose he loses his grip on the rope, even for a second? He will of course fall into the deepest depths. The same conditions apply to an aspirant. It is very easy to hold a symbol but to maintain an awareness of it in the sleep state is very difficult – and this is the ultimate state of antar mouna: inner silence.

When the inner disturbance and modifications caused by chitta vritti are quietened, sleep comes. But we must also control sleep. In antar mouna as in dhyana, the sleep state of consciousness is not to be eliminated, but the sleep consciousness should be checked and controlled by the awareness of sleep. You do not have to escape from yourself in order to find a method by which you can control sleep. You must be able to maintain sleep under perfect control of your consciousness. It is known as a ‘sleepless state’ or ‘sleep awareness’. Therefore, we have two events taking place simultaneously: sleep and awareness of sleep.

The ultimate goal of the methods is same for all yogis. It may be antar mouna, kriya yoga, chidakasha vidya, yoga nidra(4) or anything. The inner awareness is to be evolved and the outer awareness dissolved. There is to be involution of outer consciousness and evolution of inner consciousness. That is the way of yoga. You must find a method which you are able to maintain in order to control sleep. It is not avoiding sleep. The sleep should continue. It is a condition where you sleep and remain awake. This must be practised.

Usually aspirants of meditation do not want to practise this. They want to develop concentration but do not know how. They have quite a particular notion about concentration, and become very nervous and disappointed when sleep comes. Some of them complain bitterly that when they sit for meditation, sleep comes. It is very difficult for me to make them understand that at this time they can sleep and that this sleep is necessary. If I tell them that the sleep consciousness is a necessary condition for the development of the inner awareness, perhaps they would spend all of their time sleeping! I must make it very clear that unless you know how to sleep and unless you know how to remain awake during sleep (but not without sleep), it will not be possible for you to attain the higher states of yoga.

We shall now review the whole practice of antar mouna. First we silence the senses and make a gradual attack on the mind. We give it complete freedom in spontaneous thinking. Then we gradually come to control only one part of the mind. Ultimately, we allow the mind to think whatever it wants, precognitive or premonitory, etc. Next comes the fifth stage and the controlling of the mental process. After the fifth stage comes the dangerous stage of the sleep condition.

Now we will discuss some of the methods of developing sleep awareness. When sleep comes during the highest stage of meditation, choose a symbol for yourself. This is very important. It should be your own symbol and it should not change. If you change it, it will not come during the moment of sleep consciousness. Your mental faculties will become so weak that you will not have enough memory to think of different symbols. The symbol should come spontaneously. The moment sleep comes the symbol should also come.

As long as the symbol is there you will not enter into the state of laya.(5) Laya means total suspension of consciousness. It is a very dangerous state for spiritual aspirants. This laya samadhi is a very wonderful samadhi. You can remain in this state for many hours. The body metabolism soon stops and the breathing may either continue or you may suspend it. The heart and the circulatory system go into a state of inactivity. It is all under voluntary control.

It is very easy for some yogis to stop their hearts, but as far as spiritual awareness is concerned it is not wanted, because once you come out of this laya samadhi you will be the same person as before. You will be the same type of person with the same raga-dwesha.(6) There will be no spiritual change.

However, once you overcome laya samadhi and get into the chaitanya samadhi(7), when you come out you will be a polished person. Many of the samskaras of your previous lives will have dissolved. It is said by almost all sannyasins and yogis that laya samadhi does not create any change in the individual’s mental, psychic or spiritual life. And so, this experience of laya samadhi is to be avoided. There are also many physical reasons why you should not practise it. The heart becomes very weak, the lungs suffer and because of the cessation of the metabolism, toxins are assimilated in the body instead of being eliminated. These toxins cause premature death to the yogi. He suffers heavily and thus pays a great penalty.

It is at this stage that we come to know that it is necessary to have a concrete object for meditation. I agree that God has no form, but for this stage of meditation form is a must. At this stage, when sleep is descending, it is a must to have a symbol. It must remain fixed and shining brightly in your psyche when sleep comes. It should be distinct from the black colour. The psychic colour during sleep is black. It is a dense black. You must find out the colour of your symbol; whether it is yellow, green, brown, etc. You must find it out yourself. The symbol must not be an intellectual choice. It must come from the unconscious. The symbols have mostly been put forth by great seers. Your guru may give it to you or you may see it in a dream. The symbol is also given by tradition. It is then called a hereditary symbol. For example, the same family has the same symbol passed on to it from generation to generation.

How do you know that you slept and for how long? In sleep the conception of time is lost. Of this you should be careful. The symbol should be kept during this sixth kriya and as long as the illumined symbol is before you, you will remain conscious of sleep. But, if during a certain period of sleep the symbol is switched off, then you have slept.

This completes the practice of antar mouna. For those who are keen to pursue meditation to the extent of realization of

samadhi, it is necessary to continue their sadhana under the guidance of a guru. Only a guru can lead a disciple from one practice to the higher one.


1 Chitta vrittis are patterns of the mental processes.

2 Tamas literally means darkness, inertia. It is one of the three gunas (inherent characteristics) of prakriti (material substance of the world).

3 Kriya means an action. Usually the last three niyamas (second limb of raja yoga) are called kriyas. Here it means particular technique.

4 Kriya yoga, chidakasha vidya, yoga nidra, etc. are different techniques of meditation. Some are only taught by word of mouth from guru to disciple. They are only for personal practice and never become subject to any discussion whatsoever.

5 Laya is a state of non-consciousness. Not to be confused with laya yoga.

6 Raga-dwesha – like and dislike – are attitudes full of passions.

7 Chaitanya samadhi is full of life. It is just the opposite of jada samadhi.


Antar Mouna

Sannyasi Atmatattwananda (UK)

When the mind is silent and peaceful it becomes very powerful. It can become a receptor of bliss and wisdom enabling life to become a spontaneous flow and expression of joy and harmony. However…this inner silence cannot arise while there is a continual stream of disturbing thoughts and emotions. All this inner noise of thoughts and emotions has to be removed before one can truly experience the soundless sound of inner silence.
—Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Peace, bliss, harmony. Who is able to experience these states? So many people these days are struggling with their own minds. Influenced by their conditionings, and overwhelmed by the pressures of day to day living in today’s increasingly stressful society, they are full of mental tensions, which manifest as anxiety, nervousness, guilt, lack of self-confidence, loneliness, fear, obsessions and phobias. Some turn to drugs and alcohol as a temporary means of escape and solace. Others enlist the costly help of psychiatrists or psychotherapists to try and cope. All are looking for some form of change, a little relief from the inner conflicts and turmoil, wanting to feel at ease with themselves, or even to experience, if not bliss, just a modicum of peace and contentment.

Those who are fortunate enough to come across Satyananda Yoga can encounter and learn an excellent systematic meditation practice, known as antar mouna, that will enable them to release these oppressive mental tensions and to become their own psychotherapists in the process.

Antar means inner, mouna means silence. Antar mouna is a technique of attaining pratyahara (withdrawal of the mind from the sense objects), the fifth stage of raja yoga, and in its fullest form can lead to dharana and dhyana. Antar mouna is also a fundamental part of the Buddhist practice known as vipassana, used in a modified way.

Purging the mind

Generally we tend to allow ‘good’ thoughts to arise to conscious perception; we accept and enjoy pleasant thoughts. When an unpleasant, painful or ‘bad’ memory or thought arises, we tend to quickly push it back down into the subconscious layers of the mind. This is suppression and we all do it. Everyone has mental suppressions. Often we are conditioned to do it from childhood. But suppression is definitely not the answer.

Every single suppressed thought that remains unexpressed causes a block in the free flow of the mind. The thoughts and experiences stay submerged in the subconscious realms of the mind in seed form, causing pain, unhappiness and frustration in life. These subtle impressions are known as samskaras. Without even realizing it, we build up a vast accumulation of suppressed thoughts which cause a lot of tension and disturbances in the mind and personality without obvious cause.

To find lasting happiness or peace of mind, these mental impressions have to be rooted out. It can be compared to gardening. We remove the unwanted weeds from the mind. If we just break the top off, although there is temporary relief, the weed will return. However, when we dig down deep and pull out the root of the weed, it loses its hold and can be removed completely. If left to fester in the mind, these negative mental impressions poison the psyche and lead to irritability, aggression, anger, non-specific depression, a tendency to worry, being fearful without reason, and permanent tiredness. This affects all our interactions in life and reduces our ability to be efficient, creative and dynamic at every level of our lives.

Antar mouna enables us to exhaust these unwanted thoughts; it provides a means to purge the mind. Once these mental tensions start to be released, we can experience corresponding surges of energy and inspiration and life starts to take on a new dimension. In the same way that we clean our rooms and the physical body every day we also need to develop the habit of cleaning the mind each day in order to prevent the accumulation of more dross or rubbish. Therefore, it is very necessary to repeat this process on a consistent and regular basis.

The practice of antar mouna is divided into six stages: For most people, the first three stages provide plenty to work with, and in order to obtain the full benefits, a considerable amount of time should be spent practising and perfecting them before attempting to move into the more advanced stages, which will only be touched upon in brief here.

Stage 1: Awareness of external sensory perceptions

Stage 1 of antar mouna is concerned with the sensory perceptions of external stimuli. The awareness is consciously directed to focus on the sense of taste, then to witness any smells nearby, to observe the sensations of touch, body against floor, clothes or air against skin, then to move the awareness to all the different available sounds within the vicinity, without analyzing or naming them, simply witnessing the quality of the sounds. We are told this is a pratyahara technique, so externalizing our awareness may seem like a paradox at first. Why do we do this? Because if we try to internalize our awareness directly, what happens? Instantly the monkey mind jumps outside and becomes distracted by the outside sounds, or smells and the sense of touch etc. So first, there has to be a full extension of awareness to all the sensory inputs. We have to know what they are and how they affect us, or how we react to them. Three factors are involved: (i) the external object of perception (smell, taste, sound, sight and touch); (ii) the external organs of perception (the jnanendriyas: skin, nose, ears, eyes and tongue), and (iii) the internal perceiver – the witness awareness – which knows it is observing; “I know I am listening to the outside sounds and I know that I know” is the form this awareness can take.

A by product of stage 1 is that it raises the awareness of all the sensory perceptions, allowing the sense of hearing to become like a radar for example, picking up the most subtle sounds as well the obvious gross ones, enabling us to become more aware in daily life of our surroundings. However, the actual purpose of this stage is to reduce the influence of the outside impressions on our perception. It is a case of familiarity breeding contempt. The conscious and intentional perception of the outside world automatically leads to disinterest. The mind becomes bored having checked out all the possible distractions and thus ceases to be either interested or disturbed by its environment. We develop the capacity to remain centred, detached, completely undisturbed and unaffected by anything going on around us. Therefore, stage 1 induces the first level of pratyahara, i.e. dissociation of the senses from the outside world, which prepares us to go inside for the second stage.

Stage 2: Awareness of the spontaneous thought process

In stage 2 of antar mouna we leave the outside world and turn inside to work with the mind. We sit in a relaxed manner and start to observe the mind ‘screen’ in front of the closed eyes. The aim is to view and exhaust the samskaras, the negative thoughts, experiences, phobias, old memories, emotions and fears, i.e. the useless debris, which arise from inside the subconscious mind. Regular practice of this stage cleans the mind of old dross and prevents the accumulation of more rubbish.

Stage 2 has three requirements: The first is to allow the mind total freedom to think anything it wants, without any restriction. Letting all thoughts bubble up spontaneously to the surface, being aware of any corresponding emotions or feelings, especially fear, panic, greed, lust, guilt, hatred or anger. There should be no control, judgement or criticism of any thoughts – they may be about work, home, food, sex, friends, enemies, likes, dislikes; trivial or lofty, sublimely beautiful or violently murderous. Some may be connected, others will be random. Sometimes there may be a torrent of thoughts, at other times there may be just a trickle. No matter, what is important is the second requirement which is that we maintain absolutely vigilant awareness of the spontaneous thought process. Aiming constantly to develop our capacity to witness, just as though we were watching a TV or a video screen, like an uninvolved observer or spectator watching a stream of images, thoughts and events with detachment.

During the practice of stage 2, we will start to observe the different tendencies of the mind. Seeing how we suppress. When we do, we can be certain that the thought or impression will come up again with even greater force at a later time (this can be likened to pushing a rubber toy under water). Witnessing how we hold onto other thoughts, discovering how easily we can lose ourselves within our own mental process, observing that perhaps we have some repetitive thought patterns. The mind can be extremely tricky. It loves a good painful movie, for example, and may tend to replay a particular traumatic ‘video’ over and over, knowing it will get a good emotional reaction each time. By observing the play of the mind with the attitude of a witness, these thoughts start to lose their emotional force and even the most painful experiences can gradually be eradicated.

After some time with this stage, by giving the mind this freedom to spontaneously express, the torrent of babble starts to thin out a bit. The mind starts to become a little quieter. This should not however be confused with either silence, or sleep which often occurs, especially with beginners. A tendency to sleep when practising antar mouna is a classic form of the mind suppressing something it doesn’t want to confront. It is as if the mind recognizes that something different is happening, that you are taking control by asking the question: “What am I thinking now?” and all of a sudden the mind goes quiet. There are no thoughts at all! Do not be fooled into thinking this is enlightenment, rather it is just another form of subtle suppression. Just wait patiently for a short while, imagine you are looking at an empty road and soon enough the mental chatter will continue again!

The third requirement is courage, openness and honesty, for deep, hidden and suppressed parts of our personality will be revealed to us with antar mouna. This may be some beautiful, loving part of ourselves that has been dormant, or perhaps some ugly dark side that has equally been hidden. We learn to understand the nature of our mind and its multifarious activities, to befriend it and to become aware of and observe our emotional reactions to the different thoughts. This process enables us to accept ourselves fully, not as we’d like to be, but as we really are.

Stage 3: Creation and disposal of thoughts

In stage 3 of antar mouna we consciously create and dispose of thoughts at will. It is the opposite to stage two. Here spontaneous thoughts are not allowed. Rather a particular theme or thought is chosen at will, then reflected upon for a while, generating as many connected thoughts as possible related only to that theme. Looking at the issue from all angles, pondering on it, if another person is involved, considering things from their point of view and so on. After a few minutes, this theme or thought is then thrown quickly out of the mind, like a film director giving the order to ‘Cut’ when a scene is finished, and another theme is chosen. This can be repeated several times, choosing a different issue each time. The practitioner is requested to choose confronting, difficult, negative issues and themes, rather than inconsequential thoughts which will tend to be a waste of time.

In stage 3 it is really possible to work at a psychotherapeutic level. Although stage 2 helps to release mental tensions by allowing them to erupt without inhibition, many of these subconscious thoughts are deeply embedded in normally inaccessible regions of the mind, firmly fixed and rooted through habitual suppression, and therefore do not necessarily arise spontaneously.

In stage 3 the posed thoughts stir up a train of associated thoughts. These consciously created thoughts incite and attract deeper thoughts and memories. The analogy is that of fishing. The mind is baited with a thought. The bait is put into the water (the subconscious mind) and attracts other fish (deeply embedded sub and unconscious thoughts or impressions) which are caught, brought up and then released. This releases psychoneural knots and blocks. As these memories and thoughts are confronted, they lose their force and emotional weight, which leads to greater understanding of oneself, clarity and powerful inner healing.

Stages 4, 5 and 6

Stages 4, 5 and 6 are at a much more advanced level, and it will be a waste of time to attempt them if the first three stages have not been practised extensively first. Stage 4, awareness and disposal of spontaneous thoughts, is a refinement of previous stages. By this time much negativity and many disturbing thoughts will have been cleared. The mind is calmer by this stage. The thoughts will be of a different quality, arising from a deeper or more subtle space. A new dimension of one’s being can be indicated or revealed here, the psychic level. One should not become attached to what arises. Detachment is required in order not to become distracted. When one is heading inwards, into uncharted territory, the witness must be strong. Gradually the mind becomes more refined and lucid.

In stage 5, the aim is to create a state of thoughtlessness. No thoughts, the mind has to become blank whilst alertness or awareness is still maintained. It is like a mental vacuum, but it is not sleep. It is shoonya. This stage leads to actual antar mouna and should arise almost spontaneously as a result of having practised and perfected the previous stages. Suppression takes place here sometimes, but the thoughts have become almost insignificant. When stage 5 is easy, then one is instructed to move on to stage 6, otherwise the mind can become lost in laya, unconsciousness or sleep.

Stage 6 is awareness of the psychic symbol. Here constant awareness of the chosen psychic symbol is required, in order not to be side-tracked by other psychic scenery. At this stage one can slide towards the state of dharana and even dhyana.

Benefits of antar mouna

Antar mouna is a powerful psychiatric tool with which we learn to understand and befriend the mind, its tendencies and reactions that arise due to thoughts. It enables us to train the mind, to focus the monkey mind on one point which many of us have trouble with. Most importantly, we can learn to develop and strengthen the drashta or the witness, the observer of all that happens. This allows deep-rooted tensions, long forgotten painful memories, fears, hatreds and phobias to arise in a relatively controlled manner and to be eradicated. The practice provides a basis for clearing all the mental dross and rubbish – it is a form of mental shankhaprakshalana.

Antar mouna is designed specifically to eradicate mental noise and to induce a state of peace, tranquillity, one-pointedness and calmness in the mind. We can even consider antar mouna as a tool to move from darkness or a contracted state of awareness into the light of an expanding awareness. We can transform our negativity in this way. From that stage of ignorance or negativity we can eventually come to a meditative point, a neutral position of no action, no engagement, just being. This leads to automatically to steadiness and calmness of mind, in contrast to our usual oscillating state of mind, or vikshipta.

Practice in daily life

Antar mouna should not be considered as a passive sitting practice only. Stages 1 and 2 are active practices that one can aim to incorporate into every situation in daily life. Antar mouna is one of the most helpful tools around to learn about yourself, your hidden sides, your mind and to see how you are reacting to life’s situations, in a clear and honest manner.

Practise stage 1 when you next enter a crowded, noisy room or railway station, as you eat your food, when you shower, as you are getting dressed. Practise stage 2 daily, often, in any situation by repeatedly reflecting on the question “What am I thinking now? What is happening in my mental or emotional sphere?” Becoming aware of what is taking place, without identifying with it. Remind yourself, “I am not these thoughts, I am not these emotions, I am the observer”. In this way the witnessing process starts to become an automatic occurrence which shows you who you are, what you are doing here, where you are going, how to fulfil your potential and develop true peace of mind.


Swami Satyananda Saraswati, A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Teachings of Yoga and Kriya. Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, Bihar, 1981.

Prana Nidra and Antar Darshan

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

In normal states prana is under agitation. Too many distractions, sensory and sensual, affect the harmony of prana in our personality. When the pranas are disturbed, then it is natural that thoughts and emotions will be disturbed, the subtle systems of the body, the brain and the nervous systems will be disturbed. There comes a time when we have to understand the function of the pranas in order to go within.

Most of the time yoga teachers and even yogis tend to work with linear, logical concepts related to the mind. But that is not enough. Apart from saying ‘observe the vrittis’, ‘observe the thoughts’, ‘observe your actions and reactions’, we need to develop an understanding of the energy interactions within ourselves. The knowledge of energy interactions begins with an understanding of prana.

Understanding pranamaya kosha

Our physical and mental state is a good indication of our pranic condition. The technique of prana nidra aims at providing harmony and balance in the structure of pranamaya kosha. Pranamaya kosha is between annamaya and manomaya koshas, between the body and the mind. In our normal practices we jump from the body to the mind, ignoring the activities, functions and manifestations of pranamaya kosha. We believe that we can activate the pranas through the practices of pranayama, pranavidya and kundalini kriyas. Some people who are sensitive enough to become tuned to the energy interactions can do it, but others cannot. They scratch the surface of the iceberg, the pranaberg, and remain there.

Sometimes we feel tingling sensations running up and down the spine or running wild through the arms and legs. We begin to believe that the pranas have awakened, but that is not the case. What we are experiencing is the uncontrolled function of energy. We have to learn how to control the expression of energy in the physical body, the energy structure, the mental structure and the psychic structure. In order to develop a deeper understanding of pranic interaction, we need to develop sensitivity of mind. This is where prana nidra comes in.

Prana nidra: pranic sleep

Prana nidra is a technique of pratyahara. You may think that it is similar to yoga nidra because of the name, but yoga nidra is sleepless sleep, and prana nidra is pranic sleep. What is pranic sleep? Firstly, sleep is a state of absolute relaxation. Secondly, sleep is also defined as a vritti, a natural process which can disconnect the mind from the outer world, and thus avoid overloading the brain. If we do not sleep for three or four days and try to continue functioning in our normal routine, we will ultimately have problems. There is too much pressure on the human brain to cope with a continuous state of wakefulness. The efficiency and energy of the body and mind are also reduced. Sleep is a natural process of disconnection. It is like a valve which allows us to remove the excess pranic, mental and emotional agitations from our personality, to have some form of balance and relaxation.

Prana nidra aims at completing these two functions: harmonizing and relaxing the agitated pranas, and disconnecting them from the body as well as the mind, so that they can flow freely in their own dimension or kosha. How can we do this? In prana nidra, the breath becomes the medium to get in touch with the pranic flow. Energy flows through each and every part of our body, every cell, atom, muscle and organ is an expression of energy. In the practice we observe the breathing process in different parts of the body, for example, breathing in through one leg and out through the other, breathing in through one arm and out through the other. In this way we gradually sensitize our mind to become receptive to the flow of energy.

Fusion of mind and prana

When we have become receptive to the flow of energy, fusion of mind and energy occurs. The moment that happens, breath awareness is lost and energy awareness develops. This energy awareness is developed by experiencing the pranic flow as a current, as electrical energy. In prana nidra we are not trying to awaken the pranas. Other techniques, such as prana vidya, can be used to awaken and direct the pranas.

In prana nidra, after we develop awareness of energy as a flow or vibration, we move that pranic awareness into the locations of the five subpranas: prana, apana, samana, udana and vyana. Each level of these pranas is observed and if any imbalance is seen at that psychic level, it is removed. In this way we prepare ourselves for moving into the higher states of dharana, where fixation and concentration of mind can take place without the distraction of pranic activity. This is the basic concept of prana nidra.

Antar darshan: inner vision

Antar darshan is another technique of intensifying selfawareness, becoming aware of what is happening at a much deeper level than the conscious state. Here the word ‘conscious’ means the expressing nature, the manifesting quality, which can be also be subconscious and unconscious. By deeper aspects of the conscious state, I am referring to the area which we are not aware of normally, the source which is beyond the conscious area or dimension.

The practice of antar darshan follows the practice of antar mouna. In antar mouna we observe the thoughts by going through the six stages. We simply move from sensorial awareness to awareness of thoughts and the ability to actually stop them, to generating thoughts and then again stopping them. In this way we learn how to remain free from the influences of thoughts.

In antar darshan we go deeper than that. Antar means ‘inner’, darshan means ‘to have the vision of inner being’. This inner being, the little guy within each one of us, relates to the world through feelings. In the practice of antar darshan, we create abstract images and ideas, and observe the feelings associated with them. For example, during our meditation practice, without our desiring it, an image comes up of a person whom we love, respect and adore. This impression is already in our mind. Possibly as a result of the meditation technique we are practising, the memory is released and comes to the surface of the mind.

While observing the image, the intensity of feeling is so overpowering that we begin to cry. We feel our hearts begin to open, we feel a flow of very strong emotion, affection, attachment, and we get caught up in that current. We retain that impression and do not allow it to dissipate naturally. The moment we retain that impression again, it becomes an archetype, another memory. So there is no release. We look at something and we say consciously, “I acknowledge it, I observe it, I feel it”, but because of our intense association with it, we create a mirror image of the same memory and store it. In this way more impressions are created and stored. Therefore, despite our best efforts we are not able to experience the meditative state.

Experiencing the harmony of emotions

The same thing can happen with another image, form or shape which brings out the force of negativity, anger or hatred, memories of pain and suffering. We react violently and create a mirror image that comes to the surface of the mind. Every thought that comes is associated with a feeling or a group of feelings. Antar darshan is recognizing those feelings, one by one, and following the feeling back to its source. If the feeling is affection, where has it come from? Is it a true expression of my love, of my respect? Is it a manifestation of my insecurity which has come up in the form of affection? If I break off that link of affection for a moment, do I feel a void inside? If I feel empty or hollow, then what kind of reaction is that bringing to the surface of my mind? Do I get disturbed? Do I become insecure?

In this way we recognize areas of our personality which have brought up an emotion associated with either an image, a thought, a desire or an ambition. We go through the process of channelling emotional energy in the right direction by recognizing its source. Recognition of this source leads to harmony of emotions, disassociation of emotions from the tamasic and rajasic activities which we normally perform.

Transcending tamas and rajas

Tamasic or rajasic activities are conditions or states which relate to the identity of the self. In the absence of words they are selfish attitudes towards life, hanging on to life and not allowing positive transformation to take place. The tamasic and rajasic qualities allow life to go on without any contradiction, with more and more desires, ambitions and searching for satisfaction. They allow life to continue with hopes of obtaining something good from life. But they do not allow life to be transcended. They maintain us in one channel without allowing us to emerge onto dry ground.

So, through antar darshan we gain a recognition of our emotional states, which ultimately leads to disassociation of feeling from the rajasic and tamasic qualities, to re-establishing the feelings in the sattwic flow. That is the purpose of antar darshan.