In the field of spiritual sciences, there are a number of exercises besides Muraqaba that enhance mental concentration. These exercises help reduce the flow of negative thoughts, which in turn lessens mental confusion. When these extra exercises are done along with the Muraqaba then the mind gains the needed mental focus ahead of time and the positive effects of Muraqaba emerge earlier as well.
Although there are plenty of these exercises available, in this chapter we are going to list only those that are easy to practice and their success rate are also great.
In the emotional ups and downs and in the overall nervous system, breathing has a very essential role. During different emotional states, the rate of respiration fluctuates. In tragic circumstances, breathing could become a challenge as people often feel difficulty breathing after hearing the tragic news. On the other hand, during anger, the rate goes up. During peaceful moments the style of breathing becomes totally different. During this state, breathing becomes balanced and its rate goes down. However when something suddenly comes as a shock then we all simply gasp for air.
Spiritual abilities and breathing are closely interrelated. According to spiritual science, breathing has two sides, ascending and descending. Inhaling is ascending movement while exhaling is descending. During the ascending mode, the person is closer to his or her spiritual state and in the descending mode moves towards gravity. We are closer to our spiritual state when the inhaling is prolonged and the breath is retained longer than usual.
When respiration stops then our link to the body is disconnected. That is why in order to enter the sub-consciousness senses, breathing does not have to be stopped, but it must be slowed down. A living example is dreaming or states of deep trance. In these conditions, a person does respire, however, the style of breathing is noticeably different from that of its normal breathing pattern. The rate of breathing is slower and the inhaling takes longer as well. Exhaling on the other hand is shortened. In other words, when we are under the influence of inner senses not only our breathing slows down but the duration of inhaling increase as well.
When this style of breathing is intentionally practiced then the subconscious state falls on the consciousness during the awakened state and its effects usually last longer.
PRACTICE-1: Sit in a squatting position. Keep your back straight; however, avoid having any part of the body tense. Exhale from both nostrils so that the lungs are free from air. Slowly inhale through nostrils. When the lungs become full, exhale through the mouth without holding it. During exhaling keep your lips around as if whistling, without holding it. This exhaling and inhaling constitute one cycle. In the beginning, start with eleven cycles and gradually go up to twenty-one.
This exercise helps in controlling the movements of lung muscles and increases the duration of inhaling. The rate of respiration during Muraqaba should be as low as possible. However, it is imperative that the rate of breathing should not be slowed intentionally. Otherwise, the focus would shift to respiration instead of the Muraqaba. The best way to avoid that is to inhale and exhale slowly for a while before starting Muraqaba. That way the respiratory rate will drop automatically.
PRACTICE-2: Sit in a squat position just as in practice 1 and put your forearms on the knees. Inhale slowly from both nostrils. When the lungs are full of air then hold the breath for five seconds. Then exhale through the mouth similar to the whistling style. After a few moments rest repeat the process five times. The next day increases the total to seven until the total number of cycles reaches eleven. At this point, increase the hold period from five to six seconds however the total number of cycles will remain eleven. When holding the breath for six seconds is not causing any mental or physical strain then increase it to seven seconds. Unless and until one reaches full command of the practice, keep the hold period to seven seconds. Gradually it should be increased to fifteen seconds, which the maximum allowed time for hold.
PRACTICE-3: After sitting in the squat position as explained in practice 1, close the right nostrils using the right-hand thumb and inhale through the left nostril for four seconds. Hold it for four seconds. Now using the last two fingers of your hand closed the left nostril while the right nostril is still closed with the thumb. In this way, the remaining two middle fingers will be resting between the eyebrows. At this point release only the thumb from the right nostril and exhale from that nostril for four seconds and without stopping inhale from it for four seconds.
Again, hold it for four seconds and close the right nostril with the thumb. Then from the left nostrils release those fingers and exhale for four seconds. This constitutes one cycle. After a few moments rest repeat it three times. Increase one cycle every day until you reach seven cycles.
When doing seven cycles and four-second routine becomes comfortable, increase only the hold time to six seconds while the number of cycles will remain at seven. When holding the breath for six seconds and total numbers of cycles are done with ease then increase only the hold time for two more seconds and keep it increasing until the hold time reaches sixteen seconds.
When the seven cycles and holding time of sixteen seconds get easy then increase the exhale time to eight seconds. The final figures should be four seconds inhaling, sixteen seconds holding, and then eight seconds exhaling.
Continue practicing with these figures.
All respiratory exercises should be performed at least two and half hours after a moderate meal. The best time for doing breathing exercises is pre-dawn. At that time not only we are mentally and physically alert but the ratio of oxygen in the air is also the highest. The electro-magnetic activity in the atmosphere is also at its zenith during that time. The second best time for breathing exercises is before going to bed at night.
There are different types of istaghraaq exercises. In one of the styles of the exercises, attention is focused on physical movement. Since the consciousness is familiar with the physical movements, attaining concentration is easier. By seeing the same movement repeatedly, the consciousness enters the state of immersion (is-tagh-raaq). For example, attention is focused on inhaling and exhaling through different methods.
In other methods of istaghraaq, fixing the eyeballs in one position is practiced. The aim is to gain control over the movements of the optical nerves. Once the control is achieved then those movements are frozen at will. This helps in achieving consciousness immersion (istaghraaq).
EXERCISE-1: Lie down on a carpeted floor or on a comfortable bed. The bed should not be too soft. Place your hands beside your body, palms facing upward. Feet should be at least six to twelve inches apart. Let your entire body relax. There should not be any tensions in the nerves. Close your eyes and shift the focus to the right toe. After that move your focus to the left toe.
EXERCISE-2: Sit in a squat position. Keep your back straight and place your palms on your knees. The Head should be straight in the direction of the nose. Shift your focus to a point at least two feet away from your feet. Now focus on inhaling and exhaling and start counting each breath. Each set of inhaling and exhaling will constitute one cycle. During breathing, the eyes should be fixed on the floor. It is imperative that breathing not be forced. Normal breathing is recommended. (‘counting should end at ten. When the mind moves its focus away from the breathing, then softly move your focus back to breathing, and restart from the first count. If the count to ten is finished without losing focus then do one more round of ten; totaling the count to twenty. After that keep adding ten counts until the total reaches a hundred count. At this point do three rounds of hundreds. The final exercise should be over in five minutes.
EXERCISE-3: This exercise is the advanced form of exercise-2. In this exercise instead of counting the breath, the focus is on the breathing itself. It should be noted that even in this exercise breathing should be done in its normal way. Close your eyes and when inhaling, imagine that the air is entering through the nose to chest in the form of light. During exhaling, imagine that the light is leaving the chest through the nose. Do this exercise slowly and with patience. Again inhale and exhale using the imagination of light.
EXERCISE-4: This exercise will be performed in a dark room. The darker the room the better. Sit in a squat position and fix your eyes at any given point. Do not blink. In the beginning, blinking will happen and the eyes get watery as well but after a few days, the focus will be achieved. After finishing the exercise close your eyes for few moments and let your mind be free of any thoughts so that the optical nerves get some rest. After that, wash your eyes with cold water.
NOTE: The duration of Exercises 3 and 4 is from five to ten minutes.
EXERCISE-5: Sit in a squat position. Keep your face straight at first and then move a little upward. Shift your focus to the tip of your nose. During this time, the eyes should be half-open. At first, the optical nerves will feel the tension and the eyes will get watery. The best way to control the tension is to slightly close your eyes. Keep in mind not to create the optical tension intentionally. If the eyes get very teary and are hurting then close your eyes for a while, then reopen, and keep the focus on the tip of the nose. Eventually, the optical nerves get used to it and the focus is achieved without any hassle. The duration of this exercise is five minutes as well. Begin with one minute and gradually increase it to five minutes.