Circle Meditation 
The Purpose of the Circle Meditation
Brian Afton

YogaBetsy Discourse Number 9

    Here at the Yoga Center we spend a lot of time concentrating on our physical selves and the physical aspects of health and life including stress management.  This is entirely appropriate, but there is a mental aspect to yoga and to life which is far more important and very easy to overlook. 

  Students should not ignore the mental aspect of yoga because it profoundly affects the physical one.  Yoga is about a lot more than just stretching and controlling stress.  These are important things but to stop with only that level of understanding is to miss a great point.

  I, more than the women teaching here, tend to concentrate directly on the chakras and the bodies energy system.  Perhaps this is because I have less patience than they do but I like to think it is because I have greater aspirations for the students.

  When we first tell people at the Yoga Center that Yoga is an energy management system and that they have chakras and an energy channel I am certain that most of them believe we are suffering from some form of self- delusion.  They are here for stress management and exercise.

  In truth there is very little reason for students to believe there are charkas or an energy channel.  There is nothing in our culture, history or generally in their own personal experience that would even suggest that such things could be true. Fortunately there are always those willing to try something new and those who persevere eventually succeed. 

  This is something which occurs in stages.  Learning in Yoga comes gradually and never stops.  Students continue to learn more about the poses year in and year out.  No matter how familiar they become with a posture, a time always comes when they will notice something else.

  This is also true of breathing.  The air is free, as we often point out to the students who come here.  Take some!  Air effectively contains about half the energy your body uses.  When we think of fuel for the body we almost always think of food but fuel and energy and not quite the same thing.  Fuel is energy only in potential.  For food to manifest energy must combine with its opposite and be metabolized.  For all practical purposes that means being oxidized and, of course, that oxygen comes from the air.  Without air food is useless.  Without air, you will die.  Without the knowledge of how to breathe properly you will weaken and never achieve your full potential in anything.

   The breath and the act of breathing is a very important factor in vitalizing and controlling our energy system.  How you breathe is important.  Breath and the power of your own thoughts can be used to focus energy in various parts of your body.

  Aside from containing oxygen the air also has some other qualities that are not at all obvious.  The air is used as a vehicle for something else just as your own body is a vehicle for something else, your consciousness.  There is a special energy in the air.  You can think of it as being a high frequency electrical energy if you wish and it is something like that but it is, far more subtle and rarified than the electrical energy we normally think of.  It is called prana in the yogic tradition.  In our language and in the Judeo-Christian tradition is its referred to as the breath of life or the life force.

  Learning to energize the energy centers or chakras requires control of the breath and is a challenge for most westerners.  Unfortunately, until you succeed there is no reason to believe it is possible.   Unlike the boy scout who is learning to make a campfire you will not have a large cadre of people who can attest to the fact that fire exists and it is possible to ignite one.

  Discovery in this case is an act of faith and it may be difficult.  Knowledge of the energy system usually develops slowly among westerners, but it does come for those who persist.

  Granting that it will come, the question that remains is, why bother?   We have all kinds of things going on in our bodies day and night that are never the subject of a single thought upon our part.  Why learn about the energy system?

  At the very least, our students should to learn to take full breaths and to use the exhalation to relax.  Eventually they will develop the habit of automatically relaxing to the same degree they were initially collecting stress and tension.

  But….to stop at that level of understanding is to quit at the threshold of a great discovery.

  The postures or asanas are not the main purpose of yoga.  Yoga was developed to facilitate meditation. Meditation is used in our culture as a tool for stress reduction and relaxation, but that is not its primary purpose either.  The purpose of meditation is to open the pathway to your inner self.

  If explaining the energy system is difficult, it is a breeze compared to explaining about the inner self.  There is power in food you eat.  There is power in the air you breathe and think nothing of and there is also a great power and understanding residing within your inner self.

  This inner self may be equated with the subconscious mind of western science and culture because, by definition, we are not ordinarily aware of it.  We say it is below the threshold of our conscious awareness or subconscious.  In truth the the inner self is as much above our ordinary level of awareness as it is below it.

  This inner self is responsible for operating all of the automatic functions of your body and it is in touch with the great universal mind.   There is probably no way we can prove this to you.  We can only help you attune with it and allow you to make that discovery for yourself.

  The meditations we do in yoga classes are passive meditations.  They are done for the purpose of attuning you with your inner self and allowing you to prove to yourself that you have an inner center and to enable you to gain insight and wisdom from it.

  The circle meditation is of a more advanced type.  It consists of two parts.  The first part is a passive meditation designed to attune you with your inner self just as you do in our classes.  The second meditation is an active meditation during which you will be called upon to radiate love, energy and joy into the world.

  It is not unusual for people to question the usefulness of doing this.  They do not see how their small thoughts could possibly have any effect in this vast world and to this question I can only answer that they do.

  As individuals, we are, for the most part, poorly equipped to access the good that we do.  On the one hand, we are frequently well satisfied and vainly proud of things that do not amount to a hill of beans in the great scheme of things, but, overlook so-called small things which do, in fact, matter a lot.

  As we have mentioned before, the men who developed and installed the first flush toilets and sewers probably saved more lives than all of the doctors who have ever lived.  These were, for the most part, men of low social status simply doing their jobs.  It turns out that their jobs were important.  In fact, all of our jobs are important if we do them properly and each one of you has a cosmic purpose that is more important than you can either understand or imagine at this point.

  It is easy to believe that your thoughts and actions do not matter but, just remember, all the blackness and cold of the entire universe cannot block out the light from one single candle.  Moreover, this energy is cumulative.  It builds upon itself.  Each effort is like one block in a great and growing cathedral.

  Unfortunately people do not seem to believe that.  They are inclined to believe that the energy they can radiate and any effect they can have is so small as to be insignificant.  So, tonight we will conduct a little experiment to test that proposition, but first I would like to explain something.

  If we strike a note on the keyboard of a piano sound vibrations will be produced.  If we strike a second note sound vibrations of a different frequency or note will be produced.  If we strike the keys at the same time something quite different happens and something we really don’t usually notice.  This does not produce just the first and second note. It produces a completely new condition.

  Technically, the vibrations of the two notes hetrodyne producing the sum and difference of the original frequencies.  These new frequencies also hetrodyne so that seven measurable harmonics are created.  Most of the power is in the first couple of harmonics, but the others, nevertheless, exist and can be measured with sensitive equipment.

  Whenever two energies are mixed this phenomenon occurs.  This is a law of physics.  Whenever you radiate any kind of energy into the world around you be that by word, song, action or thought it mixes with the other energies and the matter it touches. It physically enters and changes the world around you.

  The second meditation we will do tonight is for the purpose of radiating love and light into the world.  As a group, thus assembled, a power will radiate from this building having a far greater force than we could possibly have generated as separate individuals.

  This radiation will change the world, by a small amount perhaps, but it will change it nevertheless.  It is very easy to believe that this could not possibly matter so in addition to what we ordinarily do in the circle meditation I have arranged a little experiment tonight.

  Ordinarily we do not use vocal music in our meditations because it can be distracting, and we certainly do not use Christian music for a variety of reasons.  We get in enough trouble just doing the traditional vowels sounds and using eastern and new age music.

  But, tonight I am going to make an exception to that policy.  The music I am going to play is a short piece in two parts.  It came from a small non denominal church in Texas perhaps 2000 miles from here.  This church no longer exists.  The pastor is deceased and the music itself would hardly be regarded as having any special merit by people employed in that industry. 

  The recording is not very good.  The piano is ancient and clunky, the choir is composed of ordinary people just doing their job. In fact, the only thing which distinguishes this music at all is the sincerity with which it was preformed.

  When those people did this, they radiated energy into the world.  Some of that energy has found its way to you here tonight many years and thousands of miles away.  As you add the power of your love and healing to it a new condition will be created, one that will be different than what would have occurred without it.

  So, when I stop talking, take some yoga breaths.  Stomach goes out.  Fill the lungs from the bottom up.  Inhale until the walls of the chest expand.  Concentrate on your heart center and exhale into it a few times just as you have been taught to do.

   Do not make a big deal out of it.  Your energy channel is largely opened right now.   Just add your light to the energy generated by the tiny little church in Texas, energy which was poured forth by them long ago before some of you were even born.  The union of these two energies will create a new condition according to the laws we spoke about previously.

  By the time we are done a few minutes from now you will not need to hear anyone else’s opinion on this subject, you will know if it mattered or not.

   Now, let us radiate joy, love and healing into the world. 

© Copyright 2004  Brian Afton 2822 Grover Rd Olean, NY 14760