Our thoughts consume us. Ayurveda says that the various agnis in the body are at constant work burning the body fuel and along with it the body’s resources. Anger, attachment, greed, violence, sorrow and various kinds of indulgences lead us to engage in intense processing of thoughts, which utilises the body’s resources and engages the various agnis resulting in ageing. An important aspect of thought is memories. Memory unites us with people or events. It is memory that connects us to everything we consider ours. Think about it, if the memory of everything you have known keeps getting erased from your storehouse, would you be affected by anything around?
You will not be able to relate to anything, anyone. This memory is the result of everlasting desires, which one is unable to let go of. It resides in every cell of our being.
Yoga teaches one to always keep memory of Divine while going through the daily activities of life and various techniques in yoga teach you how to reach a thoughtless state, where no memory (past or future) stimulates the brain to activate agnis. That is how yogis are able to sustain thoughts and arrest ageing.
An extremely effective kriya for merging in stillness and achieving a thoughtless state is ‘antar maun’. Body is made of five mahabhutas and driven by five senses. By stilling the senses, one is able to still the activity of the mind and keep thoughts at bay.
Here is a step‐by‐step guide to antarmaun:
If you can still the body in siddhasana, sit in siddhasana. Otherwise lie down, close your eyes and do not move. Relax and start ujjaipranayama. As the breath elongates become aware of your sense of hearing. Look for the remotest sound audible, starting from farthest part of the world, say horizon or the highest mountain. Try to listen to the sound and slowly unite with the rhythm by getting accustomed to the sound. Slowly get closer and closer, to your country, city, your area of residence, your house, next room, all the while paying attention to all kinds of sounds you encounter—birds, winds, water, sea, any sound you hear. Listen to sounds coming from your own room—fan, air conditioner, clock etc. Slowly move to your own body, listen to the sound of your breath. Familiarise yourself with the sound of your breath, and move the awareness with the breath, as it goes in through the nasal passage. Listen to the sound of the organs it passes through. When you reach your chakras you may be able to hear the beej mantra of the chakra, which is nothing but the sound of prana as it moves through the subtle channels of the chakra. Slowly move into your body, listening to the sounds emanating from each and every organ and unite with their rhythm. Lastly come to the brain, move in every part of the brain, become one with the sounds coming from it. As you feel one with the sound you feel closest to, instruct your brain to drop the sound, and all awareness. Just fall into the vast abyss of nothingness, no sound, no body, no you. As the awareness comes back, chant Shantipath, pay reverence to the Guru, and as in all the practices, look at the centre of the palms first.
Initially you may find it difficult to drop awareness and let go, as letting go is more difficult than any other thing in life. As you graduate in these practices, along with the practice of cleansing and charity/service, letting go will come easily to you. These practices are sure to energise the entire body system adding a new dimension to your thought process and introducing a new perspective of life and the world around. Every sound you encounter will reveal something about nature, and sounds coming from within will give you an insight of your own body and mind. The silence will unfold many hidden secrets about human mind and give an idea of bliss/ananda a yogi finds while in silence/nothingness. You might also be able to hear the sounds which prana makes as it moves through your chakras (beej of the chakra) or you might in deeper states hear a sound which was uttered a few years back. Yogis who have achieved the advanced stages of antarmaun can also hear the commands of the gods (bhavishyavanis).