Working with your Archetype
Creating an Altar and Meditating in front of your deity
You may set up an altar anywhere in your home and make it a sacred space for you to have a daily meditation practice. Place your deity archetype on a cloth and decorate the altar with candles, flowers, incense, pictures of teachers or anyone meaningful in your life. You may have multiple archetypes however you meditate only on one deity at a time as the energies are different. The time period in meditation is totally up to you and there is no fixed time. For instance, anywhere from 2-60 min, whatever is comfortable for you.
It’s more important to be natural and relaxed while meditating and not try to still the mind. Instead of trying to quench the thoughts (which takes a lifetime of practice if not more, and is the entire premise of Patanjali yoga), you focus on the gap or the space between your thoughts. This gap is pure consciousness because your thoughts are overlaid on consciousness.
This gap is similar to the gap between mantras so mantra based meditation may be useful here. When thoughts recede, your mind is suffused with pure consciousness. In this state, your mind is like a vacuum. You then open your eyes to the deity in front of you. Subconsciously, your mind starts “sucking” in the deity’s attributes and qualities and you slowly start to awaken the archetype within you.
This is a simple but powerful technique that yogis have been doing over the years.
Four Practices you can do with your Archetype
When you want to work with your archetype towards Spiritual Awakening, what you do is to elevate your Archetype to pure Consciousness. Ultimately, pure Consciousness is without form and beyond time and space. But our minds come from Time and Space and cannot fathom the unfathomable. Here is where these archetypes come in.
There are four practices to incorporate the murti (statue) of your archetype in your life. One practice is meditation and the other three are in your day to day life because yoga is everywhere and not just to be performed inside a room. These practices are adapted from the teachings of theBhagavad Gita.
1) Karma Yoga – view any event in your life as a prasad (gift) from your archetype. Its like when you visit a temple, a priest sanctifies some almonds in front of the deity and gives it to you as “Prasad” – you accept it gratefully and don’t demand for ice cream! Similarly you view any event in your life, be it good or bad, as a Prasad from your Ishtadevata. This weakens the feelings of “doership” by the ego. This is the single most important sadhana we can do in today’s society. Its deceptively simple but consistent practice brings great peace of mind.
2) Raja Yoga Meditation in front of your archetype and open your eyes to your archetype: This brings out the “devatabhava” (feeling of godliness) within you. This is the 8 fold path of Yogic path of Lord Patanjali.
3) Puja and Bhakti Yoga – Opens your heart chakra. This feeling of love to the divine affects the feelings/emotions part of the mind. Kirtan chanting to your deity is an important aspect of this practice.
4) Jnana Yoga- Understand the philosophy, symbolisms and mythology. This affects the intellect part of your mind. We are literally reliving all the myths of these Gods and Goddesses.