by Krishna Prakash
Antar Mouna is a clear set of six stages to allow us to enter deep meditation and beyond. It was brought out by the wonderful living tradition of the Bihar School of Yoga. This article gives you an overview what to expect.
If you say YES to one or more to any of the below, then the process of Antar Mouna might be YOUR practice:
- I am easily disturbed by the happenings around
- I wish to sharpen my sensory perceptions
- I would like to develop the attitude of witness
- I wish to develop the ability to listen to myself and others
- I need to know safe methods to deal with the vagaries of the mind
- I wish to deepen my meditation and other spiritual pursuits
The ability to be resilient to situations and people around, and at the same time to lead a reasonably peaceful and prosperous life is a ‘need’ today. This is equally true for the world within. Unless we have the courage to observe, accept and know how to ‘rightly’ release and be relieved from our thoughts, they get suppressed and explode at an inopportune time as unmanageable powerful emotions, words and actions. Thus, Antar Mouna is an equally useful and beneficial practice for everyone.
Like Yoga Nidra, it is Swami Satyananda Saraswati who introduced Antar Mouna to the mainstream Yoga practice. It became widely known after His talks and sessions on this subject at Bihar School of Yoga’s first international teacher training course, conducted, personally by him in 1967.
How does Antar Mouna help?
Inner Silence is in many ways a perfect launch pad to a stable and meaningful life. Starting from external impetus, we gradually learn to manage the internal thoughts! Apart from helping us to meditate better and deeper, the practice and perfection of Inner Silence results in emotional stability, deepens our awareness resulting in refinement of our perceptions and assists us in graduating towards taking charge of our lives. As in any process that helps us to unfold our potential, Inner Silence also allows us to progress step by step and gradually unravels the depth of our own self. When we learn this process, we gradually start to respond instead of reacting to situations, people and results. This helps us to develop a holistic perspective of life that is essential for a peaceful and prosperous living.
A brief introduction to the various stages of Antar Mouna
The underlying theme of this practice is “awareness“ and the practitioner can personally experience the deepening of it with the passage and success at each of the stages. Antar Mouna comes under the 5th limb of Yoga i.e. Pratyahara and practice of any process from this limb is clearly mentioned by Swami Satyananda as the first step to the 8th limb i.e. Samadhi.
Stage 1: Awareness of senses and sense perception to the level where the external sense impetus no longer affects or disturbs the practitioner. The practitioner can literally experience silence of the mind, though partially. Perfection of this stage helps one to chose any place and at will engage in meditation or other deeper pursuits without trying to set right the external circumstances.
Stage 2: Reasonable perfection of stage 1 and the ability to maintain a still posture for a prolonged period of time is a prerequisite to enter this stage. Here, the practitioner strives to practice the role of a witness by allowing all thoughts (viz. good, bad and ugly!) without labelling, surpressing or judging oneself. This is technically self-introspection and has to be practiced under the watchful eyes of the teacher, preferably, in the initial days. At the end of the practice, it is ideal to note down the barrage of thoughts that well up and discuss with a close confidant or the teacher, if need be.
Stage 3: Tradition says that the cycle of birth and death is going on since ages. They call it as anadhi, i.e. without a beginning. Thus it is practically impossible to exhaust all the thoughts that the subconscious mind has. The aspirant moves into the 3rd stage when visions start to appear. This is one stage where the “will“ is used to invoke a thought and dispose it as well at “will.“ This way one can consciously bring forth the so called bad experiences and encounters with life, then analyse it and dispose it mercilessly. This stage also stresses the importance to keep our memory alert and open. Swami Satyananda advises not to take up more than three themes per sitting.
Unless we are comfortable knowing who we are, we can never know anything or anyone, leave alone God!
Stage 4: Here, the practitioner develops the awareness as spontaneous thoughts are consciously thought of and disposed at will. This would ultimately lead to the practitioner developing premonition and mental vacuum as well. This stage is best practiced only under the watchful eyes of the teacher as many practitioners lose the sight of why they started to practice Antar Mouna in the first place and get entangled with psychic experiences.
Stage 5: This is an outgrowth of the first four stages and the practitioner can experience thoughtlessness. From here to move to the last and final stage is easy as well as a must to conclude the understanding and practice of Antar Mouna.
Stage 6: Awareness of the sleep state of the consciousness happens here. It is important to choose a symbol to hold as the mind would slip into drowsiness. This is also where the practitioner completes the practice of Pratyahara and is ready to step into the next limb i.e. Dharana (concentration). Many practitioners would not wish to practice this stage and directly enter meditation. It is enough if we know this much about this last stage as there may be a tendency to experiment without proper guidance.
Benefits of practicing Antar Mouna
In the transactional life that we live, the polarities such as good and bad, heat and cold, happiness and sadness, day and night etc., has value. The reality is that these polarities create a myriad of thoughts in the mind, thereby retarding its optimal functioning. The polarities tend to color our mind, blur the vision of life that we have and impediment our entry and progress in meditation or other higher order inner practices. Thus, Antar Mouna is an indispensable process in today’s day and age.
Inner Silence must be learnt under the guidance of a qualified teacher and not from books, videos etc. The holistic result of practice is visible in the conduct of the source i.e. the teacher.
Inner Silence is generally learnt along with a systematic combination of Asana, Pranayama, Yoga Nidra, Kriya, Mudras, Mantra, and finally adapting to a right lifestyle. This is a great starting point for an atheist, theist and an agnostic because true spirituality is knowing oneself in the real sense. Unless we are comfortable knowing who we are, we can never know anything or anyone, leave alone God!
About the author
Krishna Prakash is the founder of Shrimath Yoga, an ashram that is located in Bangalore. Since its inception in 2011, students from 40 countries have studied Yoga as a system and given excellent reviews for Shrimath Yoga. Shrimath Yoga is the first Yoga School in India to be approved by Yoga Alliance International to provide teacher training in Yoga Nidra. Retreats and Teacher Training Courses are available in very small groups with a strong focus on each participant. Krishna continues to learn from the living traditions of Bhagawan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri, Sri Ramakrishna Mutt, Bihar School of Yoga.
Keen to experience Antar Mouna? Visit Shrimath Yoga on Yoga.in