Antar Mouna is a Tantric practice of training the mind in preparation for meditation. Before we dive into Antar Mouna, first let me define meditation or dhyana. David Frawley, a brilliant teacher of Yoga and Ayruveda defines meditation as “…our ability to contact our true Self and consciousness (Atman or Purusha) which is the source of life and intelligence.” Meditation isn’t a technique, it’s a state, and just as we must train our bodies to be strong and flexible, we must train our minds with the same level of focus and patience, and in my personal experience, structure!
During the first seven years of my yoga practice, I studied mostly postures, or asana and expansion of the breath or pranayama. I began where many westerners do, with the physical practices of yoga. After a while, I found myself interested in the other limbs of Raja Yoga, philosophy and in general, the more subtle aspects of this science. And before long, I made my way to southern India, and immersed myself in study and practice at a small ashram in the mountains of Tamil Nadu. It was there that I first learned of Antar Mouna or Inner Silence.
Raja Yoga is also called “Lifestyle Yoga” because it contains eight practices or limbs, that guide us in living life well, and is a systematic approach in support of the evolution of consciousness. The practice of Raja Yoga, or the “Eight Limbed Path”, includes:
- yama-social rules
- niyama-personal rules
- pranayama-expansion of the breath
- pratyahara-turning inward of the senses
- dharana-focus and concentration
- samadhi-complete realization/bliss
The techniques used to train the mind for dhyana, fall under the limbs of pratyahara and dharana. Pratyahara is a practice used to balance the internal and external senses. It’s not possible, for most of us, to jump directly from asana to dhyana. This would require that we jump from the body to the mind. A more accessible path is to traverse what lies between the body and the mind: the senses and the breath. Harnessing the power of the sense organs and the breath is the link to moving from the physical practices of yoga to the more subtle aspects.
Antar Mouna contains six stages and is most effective when practiced in progressive order, taking at least one month for each stage, more if needed. And if there’s a significant break from this practice, it may be beneficial to start over. While it’s helpful to practice Antar Mouna throughout the day, a regular practice at the same time of every day will magnify the benefits. One of the many gifts of Antar Mouna is the awareness and release of dysfunctional mental conditioning. Because of this, Antar Mouna may not be appropriate for everyone. With all of the techniques available to train the mind, it’s important to find the best fit.
6 STAGES OF ANTAR MOUNA
- Awareness of Sense Perceptions
- Observation of Spontaneous Thoughts
- Conscious Creation and Disposal of Thoughts
- Awareness and Disposal of Spontaneous Thoughts
- Awareness of Psychic Symbols
Part 2 will begin to detail the 6 stages of Antar Mouna. Stay tuned!