Antar mouna consists of six separate stages. These are briefly as follows:
Stage 1: awareness of sense perceptions
In this stage, one becomes aware of external events. One intentionally directs perception to the outer world. Generally the eyes are closed so that sense impressions will be received mainly through the ears in the form of sound. One can also be aware of the senses of touch and smell. T he purpose of this stage is to reduce the influence of outside impressions on one’s perception. It is a case of ‘familiarity breeding contempt’. Intentional perception of the outside world leads automatically to disinterest. The mind ceases to be interested or disturbed by external sounds, etc. This leads automatically to stage 2.
Stage 1 induces the first part of pratyahara; that is disassociation of the senses from the outside world.
Stage 2: awareness of spontaneous thought process
In this stage one becomes aware of the spontaneous samskaras exploding from the subconscious realms of the mind. This is the stage where the grosser neuroses, phobias and tensions of the mind are released. You will relive many past experiences and experience the eruption of suppressed desires. There should be absolutely no suppression.
This stage should be practised until the mind becomes reasonably calm and trouble free. Then one should proceed to stage 3.
Stage 3: conscious creation of thoughts
In this stage one has to create a thought or visualize a scene at will. After dwelling on the thought for some time it is consciously rejected as an object of perception. Then another thought is posed and again rejected after some time. This is repeated with numerous thoughts of any theme. This is a further process of purging the mind of negative data. These created thoughts stir up associated feelings and ideas that are eventually exhausted. For example, if you create the thought: “I wish I could kill Mr. X,” and dwell on this thought then many strong emotions and associated thoughts are drawn up from the subconscious realms of the mind. Many suppressed thoughts and feelings can be exhausted in this manner.
After a few weeks or months of practice one should proceed to stage 4.
Stage 4: awareness and disposal of spontaneous thoughts
In this stage one again becomes aware of the spontaneous eruption of thoughts, as in stage
2. However, one should choose prominent thoughts that arise and reflect on them for a short time. Then they should be exhausted at will. Again one should be aware of the spontaneous thought process and again choose a prominent thought. If one has already practised the previous stages 1-3 to a reasonable degree of perfection then the thoughts that arise in this stage will tend to be more subtle. They may even be precognitive or telepathic thoughts. However, these thoughts, no matter how subtle, are still a source of agitation in the mind. Therefore, they too must be exhausted. After some weeks or months one should leave stage 4 and proceed to stage 5.
Stage 5: thoughtlessness
At this stage the mind should be reasonably calm and peaceful. Thoughts will still arise, but they will not be very strong or cause any great emotional upheaval. At this stage, it is therefore justified to suppress all thoughts completely. This should lead to a state of thoughtlessness. Perfection of this stage implies the attainment of pratyahara. This is the gateway to dharana.
At this stage one should adopt a psychic symbol as a focal point for concentration. Without this symbol one will become lost in the bottomless psychic realms of one’s being, and will not reach the destination . . . dhyana.