Yoga isn’t just about developing your body to its prime wellbeing. It is equally about discovering the highest potential your mind can reach. Of the eight limbs of yoga, the first four focus on the physical aspects of yoga while the last four on the mental. The fifth limb of yoga, Pratyahara, is an exercise in the internalization of one’s senses. Thus, it is the withdrawal of one’s awareness from the external world to one’s internal. In a way, it is the transitional step from the physical segment of yoga to the spiritual one. Everyone is extraordinary in their own specific manners, however, they are altogether powerful and lead to a similar state.
What Is Antar Mouna
Antar Mouna, meaning Inner Silence, is a six-stepped technique for achieving Pratyahara. The primary propagator of Antar Mouna is Swami Satyananda Saraswati. He made it famous when he started teaching YTTCs that included Antar Mouna at Bihar School of Yoga from 1967. Antar Mouna meditation is a technique that helps cultivate complete awareness, mindfulness, and a witness attitude. This method is also prevalent in Buddhism as the Vipassana technique of meditation. However, the Antar Mouna script is Pali there and there are some technical differences too.
Stages Of Antar Mouna
There are six stages of Antar Mouna. One should never move to a later stage without completely mastering the previous one. It is also best if a person lets a teacher guide their meditation in the initial phase of every stage. This is because there is a lot of scope for mistakes that can turn out to be dangerous for the practicer. The six stages are:
This stage pertains to the awareness of sensory perceptions. The person needs to consciously direct their awareness to all the external stimuli and perceive it with their senses. By practicing this long enough, the familiarity causes the person to become apathetic towards these signals. Hence, the mind slowly becomes immune to even the slightest disturbances and automatically turns inward. This is more effective than forcing your awareness to internalize itself, as that leads to the mind doing the opposite. It will start reacting more to the outside stimuli that shutting them out.
The subsequent stage-manages the attention to our unconstrained considerations. In other words, the person turns their awareness to the thoughts that erupt spontaneously from the deepest recesses of their mind. One must allow every thought, feeling, fear, desire, experience, and memory that they internalized, to run freely through their mind. These are known as samskaras. No matter how painful or shameful these are, they cannot suppress or judge them. Therefore, the person should only be a silent witness. After sufficient practice, the person should notice this thought stream slowing and calming down as they exhaust their subconscious repository.
This stage involves the witting creation and ejection of thoughts. The person has to choose a certain thought or theme and ponder over it. In addition, they have to bring up all associated emotions, thoughts, and perspectives from their subconscious. After some time of contemplation, the person must cast out that thought at will. At every point, the generation and disposal of the thoughts should be conscious. Unlike stage 2, there is no place for spontaneous action here. This stage helps root out even the deepest disturbances from your mind for good.
The 4th stage is an amalgamation of both Stage 2 and 3. Like stage 3, one needs to be conscious of the occurrence and discarding of each thought. But, like in stage 2, one must let the thoughts come spontaneously to them. Thus, by allowing spontaneity of the rise of thoughts, you recognize the issues plaguing you. And by discarding them as you practiced in stage 3, you get to rid yourself of them permanently. Detachment and witness attitude is especially important so that you do not experience any unwarranted entanglement.
This is the stage of thoughtlessness. At this stage, your mind should be calm and able to weather any upheaval. You need to be fully aware of your psyche and consciously keep it free of any thoughts. In the beginning, some thoughts will arise. But you must immediately cast them out without any kind of engagement with them. With practice, you will be able to maintain this stage of complete thoughtlessness easily and automatically.
The last stage marks the successful completion of Pratyahara. The mind enters a sleep state completely detached from the external world. However, to prevent your mind from losing itself, it is advisable to choose an anchor to hold onto. This can be any symbol or totem that best represents your faith. This stage readies the individual for the following limb of the yoga, ie, Dharana.
Benefits of Antar Mouna
Antar Mouna benefits that the practicer enjoys are:
- Cleansing the mind of all negativity
- Mental discipline
- Peace and calm of the mind
- The stoic response instead of reactive turmoil
- Emotional courage and resilience
- Eradication of distraction and judgment by the mind
- Development of concentration and perception
- Preparation for meditation
- Better self-awareness and intelligence, even precognitive capabilities
Antar Mouna yoga can greatly enhance your practice and improve your experience of yoga teacher training. BookYogaTraining finds and connects you with the best yoga teacher training courses to help you reach the ultimate yogic state and perfect your practice.