We turn our attention and focus normally to the needs of the body, the desires and ambitions of the vital being, the impact of perceptions and the thought processes of our minds. Even when we take up a spiritual path, we try to find a practice that may involve the body, the life-energy and / or the mind in carrying out that practice. We try to measure “progress” by a definition that we have set up based on our mental calculus of what the spiritual practices are intended to achieve. All this time, we remain wrapped within the framework of the mind-life-body amalgam and we thereby limit anything new that can come in and effectuate any kind of real or substantial change in the nature.

Since the integral yoga is based on the action of a higher force in the process of manifesting as the next evolutionary stage of development, it is essential that we find a way to come into contact with this Force, and allow it to function, without interference from the mind-life-body complex. Sri Aurobindo thus provides a deceptively simple process which systematically disengages the mind, the life-energy and the body from attachment to their habitual modes of action and opens up a receptivity for the new action to take place. Thus, the mind must become quiet, the vital desires need to be stilled and the body needs to exhibit patient support for the process. This is not to be accomplished through suppression or violent practices that harm or abuse the being, as this creates a tension which locks in the mind-life-body within its frame and thus, actually prevents the full and free receptivity needed to have the higher Force do what it finds necessary. Similarly, impatience is a sign of vital disturbance which once again interferes with the receptivity.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “In this yoga the whole principle is to open oneself to the Divine Influence. It is there above you and, if you can once become conscious of it, you have then to call it down into you. It descends into the mind and into the body as Peace, as a Light, as a Force that works, as the Presence of the Divine with or without form, as Ananda. Before one has this consciousness, one has to have faith and aspire for the opening. Aspiration, call, prayer are forms of one and the same thing and are all effective; you can take the form that comes to you or is easiest to you. The other way is concentration; you concentrate your consciousness in the heart (some do it in the head or above the head) and meditate on the Mother in the heart and call her in there. One can do either and both at different times — whatever comes naturally to you or you are moved to do at the moment. Especially in the beginning the one great necessity is to get the mind quiet, reject at the time of meditation all thoughts and movements that are foreign to the sadhana. In the quiet mind there will be a progressive preparation for the experience. But you must not become impatient, if all is not done at once; it takes time to bring entire quiet into the mind; you have to go on till the consciousness is ready.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 5 Bases of Yoga, Opening, pp. 97-100

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.