Tantra

I acknowledge this graphic from the Internet.

In this 41 st verse and dharana (focusing) technique from the Vigyana Bhairava Tantra, Shiva says:

Merging the breath energies within or out

Be centered and fit

Reach Shiva Consciousness

Once again, I wish to remind readers that these verse of Shiva are dharana, focusing techniques, and not dhyana, meditation techniques. One pointed focusing of the senses, after shutting out external inputs to the sensory organs, leads to a state of meditation, when thoughts become centered. These verses follow the sixth limb of Patanjali‘s Ashtanga Yoga, though some refer to these as meditation techniques.

Shiva started with the breath as his first point of focusing. The first 6 verses connected to how we ought to breathe and focus on the breath. Now, he returns to the breath, not as a technique, but as an energy.

Prana, the energy behind the breath, constitutes the energy sheath, prana maya kosha next to out gross body sheath, anna maya kosha. From the prana sheath, one traverses subtler sheaths of emotions, mano maya kosha, and intellect, vigyana maya kosha, finally reaching the bliss sheath, ananda maya kosha.

The prana energy has five components: prana and apana, the two main components, exhalation and inhalation, moving up and down, respectively, in line with the flow of our inner energy. The other three are udana, responsible for swallowing, deep sleep and separation of vital body at death, samana, responsible for digestion and hunger, and vyana, responsible for blood circulation and activity.

Swami Satyasangadananda Saraswati in Bihar School of Yoga’s Ascent refers to prana as inhalation and apana as exhalation, whereas commentaries on Mandukya Upanishad say the opposite. Personally, when I inhale, I experience a downward movement of the breath energy, and feel that the downward apana refers to inhalation.

The technique refers to the fusion of these two energies, so this differentiation does not matter. The merger happens both when inhalation turns into exhalation and exhalation into inhalation, as the breath briefly stops and turns around, known as kumbhaka. One experiences this when focused on any chakra location. Personally, I prefer the heart, anahata chakra.

So, to practice this dharana, as you hold the breath briefly and comfortably, at your frequency and rhythm, between inhalation and exhalation, as well as exhalation and inhalation, stay aware at the heart center, without thoughts, or witnessing thoughts. Gradually, you will move into prajna, the true state of awareness, and beyond into the Fourth State of Shiva Consciousness.

All you really need to do is to center your attention comfortably and relaxed at the heart center. As you breathe in and out, be aware of the points of holding the breath, the inflexion. Naturally, you will move into a thought free state. With practice, you can extend this space. This is the space of the yogis, and Shiva.

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