Antar Mouna, or Inner Silence, is a Tantric Yoga technique to prepare the mind for the state of meditation. This practice contains six stages and it’s recommended that we work with each stage for a minimum of one month, with no maximum time limit. Antar Mouna is an invaluable tool for training the mind and the senses. If you haven’t read the previous articles, get to it!
STAGE FOUR: AWARENESS AND DISPOSAL OF SPONTANEOUS THOUGHTS
Here we draw upon the witness consciousness once again and take a step or two back to watch the movie in our mind. This step begins like stage two, where we allow thoughts to arise spontaneously. However, instead of continuing to watch the progression of the movie scenes, once the thought is acknowledged, we hold it in the mind so it can attract related thoughts, feelings, and memories, just like we do in stage three. This holding step cleans house, so to speak. It dredges up similar thoughts from the subconscious, and after a while, we have a big ball of thoughts, rather than only that first one. Finally, once we feel ready, we release that bundle of thoughts, and I often signify this with a long exhale through the mouth.
Stage four of Antar Mouna is structurally similar to stage three, so it can be a smoother transition than the earlier stages. One of the notable considerations when practicing stage three is to disregard any spontaneous thoughts that float into the consciousness, and only engage with the thought, feeling or memory that has been specifically cultivated. In my experience of stage three, it’s enticing, as it always is, to entertain a spontaneous thought. That is to hold the thought in the mind. When this happened my first few times practicing stage three, I tried to rationalize holding my awareness on that spontaneous thought by making excuses like, “well this one naturally floated in, maybe I’m supposed to think about it….”, or “it feels like more effort to consciously cultivate a thought, what about finding ease in practice?”. I soon realized that though these are decent arguments to be made, ultimately, the structure of Antar Mouna is what hooked me. It’s what allowed me to sit. So moving away from the structure that has proved to be helpful for me in my practice isn’t the wisest choice. And now, after practicing stage three for a good long while, I can clearly see the benefit of training the mind not to engage with the spontaneous thoughts.
In class lately we’ve been talking about the importance of making a conscious decision to choose what we focus our awareness on, be it a thought, an object, a person, or an experience. And if we don’t choose, then we are giving our habits and patterns permission to make that decision, the choice of what to focus our attention on. If we aren’t paying attention then the following will dictate where we place our awareness:
- Kleshas: the conditioned behaviors and beliefs, or conditioned states.
- Samskaras: impressions that remain from previous actions or behavior.
- Vasanas: groups of impressions that form habits and patterns; latent tendencies.
- Karma: results of our previous thoughts, words, and actions; the law of cause and effect.
In stage three of Antar Mouna, we are choosing what to focus our attention on. This is an essential step in preparing the mind for a little less structure. Now in stage four, we give the mind more freedom and allow for spontaneous thoughts to climb onto the center stage of our awareness.
BENEFITS OF STAGE FOUR:
- Refinement of stage three benefits.
- Deeper subconscious purging. In stage two we begin to see some of the thoughts stored in the basement of our mind, our subconscious. In stage three we see them again, and now in more patterns. We start to get a feel for our tendencies, our cycles of thoughts. In stage four, we strengthen our ability to pay attention (because we have less structure) and we continue to learn about our habits, to identify the veils that alter our perception of reality. Our unique conditioning colors our experience of life. The more we examine the lenses through which we see this world, the more freedom we have in choosing to remove them, and to exist in Supreme Reality.
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I invite you to take deep inhales, with long exhales, and allow for the free flow of spontaneous smiles steeped in joy!