Attitudes reduce the veils: Yoga and Vedanta both suggest attitudes to cultivate for removing the mental and emotional blocks that veil the joy of the true Self. Each of these can be the subject of meditation and contemplation as well as being practiced in daily life. Attitudes meditations are foundations for the subtler meditations.
Meditation on attitudes: To meditate or contemplate on one of these attitudes sit in your meditation posture or simply relax in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and allow your attention to gently rest in the space between the breasts or the space between the eyebrows. Allow that one attitude to arise in the field of thoughts and feelings, cultivating a positive relationship with that attitude. Hold that attention for some time. Since many attitudes relate to other people or objects, those too may come into the mind field as objects of focus, along with the attitude.
Four attitudes towards people
In relationships, the mind becomes purified by cultivating feelings of friendliness towards those who are happy, compassion for those who are suffering, goodwill towards those who are virtuous, and indifference or neutrality towards those we perceive as wicked or evil.
- Maitri: Friendliness, pleasantness, lovingness
- Karuna: Compassion, mercy
- Mudita: Gladness, goodwill
- Upekshanam: Acceptance, equanimity, indifference, neutrality
Five efforts and commitments
In the Yoga Sutras five efforts and commitments are suggested as a foundation to meditation. These five principles and practices form a very simple, straightforward outline of the personal commitments needed to follow the path of Self-realization. It is very useful to memorize these five, and to reflect on them often.
- Shradha is a faith of moving in the right direction.
- Virya is the positive energy that supports the faith.
- Smriti is cultivating a constant memory or mindfulness.
- Samadhi is deep absorption that is intently pursued.
- Prajna is pursuing the higher wisdom.
By cultivating a constant remembrance of these five forms of efforts and commitments, the specific practices are all understood in this simple context. This helps a great deal to inspire one to follow through on doing the actual practices suggested throughout the Yoga Sutras.
Six treasures of Vedanta
The six treasures (shat-sampat) of Vedanta are considered the indications that one is truly ready to touch the higher reaches of the path to enlightenment.
- Shama: attaining inner quietness, tranquility
- Dama: ability to naturally exercise restraint; from training senses
- Uparati: natural subsiding of worldly interests; natural withdrawal
- Titiksha: forbearance to accept the onslaught of obstacles
- Shradha: faith and clarity of your direction, surrender
- Samadhana: resolute inner harmony, freedom from inner conflicts
Yamas and Niyamas
Inner reflection as well as external practice: The five Yamas and Niyamas of Yoga are not only practiced at the level of external behaviour, but are consciously reflected on and cultivated in the inner chamber of the mind and heart during contemplation and meditation:
The five Yamas: The five Yamas are considered codes of restraint, abstinences, self-regulations, and involve our relationship with the external world and other people (click the links to go to the sutras dealing with the individual Yamas):
- Ahimsa: non-violence, non-harming, non-injury
- Satya: truthfulness, honesty
- Asteya: non-stealing, abstention from theft
- Brahmacharya: walking in awareness of the highest reality, continence, remembering the divine, practicing the presence of God
- Aparigraha: non-possessiveness, non-holding through senses, non-greed, non-grasping, non-indulgence, non-acquisitiveness
The five Niyamas: The five Niyamas are the observances or practices of self-training, and deal with our personal, inner world (click the links to go to the sutras dealing with the individual Niyamas):
- Shaucha: purity of body and mind
- Santosha: contentment
- Tapah: training the senses, austerities, ascesis
- Svadhyaya: self-study, reflection on sacred words
- Ishvara pranidhana: surrender; (ishvara = creative source, causal field, God, supreme Guru or teacher; pranidhana = practicing the presence, dedication, devotion, surrender of fruits of practice)