What is the real power of pranayama and meditation?

In answer to Quora question: "What is the real power of pranayama and meditation?"

Thanks for the A2A.

First of all, not all meditation includes the breath-control elements of pranayama, and not all pranayama practices have the same effect as other forms of meditation. Results of any of these approaches also vary from person to person. So to discuss "the real power" of something, we will need to be more specific.

For me personally, conscious breathing techniques have been an important part of my meditation practice since the very beginning. They have tended to hasten or deepen alternate states of consciousness and provide more reliable access to alternate perception-cognition. Most people who have employed such techniques will warn of the risks, however, so I will do the same: if you practice breath-control, it is wisest to do so under supervision of someone with experience in a given technique, and who understands the risks - which can be severe.

As for "meditation" in general (and this can mean many different things), the main benefits will be an intensified awareness of things like spiritual insight (*gnosis*), witness consciousness, somatic memory, ego constructs, repressed material from early life, emptiness, the interconnectedness of all-being, etc. In other words, with disciplined practice we will eventually encounter many different aspects of our ground-of-being, our interiority, or of the Universe itself, and in more transparent and vibrant ways than we have before. Does this equate "power?" If you equate knowledge or insight and power, then perhaps this would be your answer.

For me, if I were to distill all of my experiences with meditation and breathing techniques into a single theme, it would be the intense connection with love. That is the "real power" of these practices: to encounter the roots and branches of an abiding love-consciousness, and experience the inexorable inner movement that cements one's life work as the operationalization of such ineffable Light in skillfully compassionate and generous actions (*agape*).

My 2 cents.


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