Saturday, August 17, 2013

Understanding Meditation -1



The Art of meditation is best learned from a Master, who has used this sacred science to achieve the highest that a human can attain through it i.e – realization of God / Self. Such a Master knows the various difficulties and obstacles that any aspirant is likely to face and can thus guide him / her accordingly to help smooth the path towards the goal.

I write this note as a student on the path, with a view to cover only basic aspects and certain random points which i found helpful during my own journey. Let every reader connect the dots and form a larger understanding by themselves.

I also strongly recommend those interested, to read certain books about great Masters who have mentioned quite a bit about this sacred science in their books. The Autobiography of Yogi is a great read as it talks a lot about this science from a practical point of view and also mentions the various states and stages that many a great yogi’s have found themselves to be in.

Only by practice can one reap full benefits of this art. Intellectual understanding may only serve to overcome any obstacles that the mind may present.


WHY MEDITATION?

Out of a thousand, one seeks Me, out of a thousand that seek Me, one finds Me!” : Bhagawad Gita.

The first question people interested in meditation must ask themselves sincerely is Why do they want to meditate? In my understanding aspirants belong to 3 categories –

   1. Social reason – These are people who wish to learn meditation out of curiosity or simply because it is the 'in-thing'. It works well for them to have the fact that they meditate or belong to a group, in their social resume or to help give them a feel that they are “spiritual” in their outlook in life since they practice a few hours of sitting. Disillusionment pursues and most discard meditation eventually as they find themselves in the same place that they were before at the same time they take meditation lightly as they feel that they have 'been there, and done that'.

    2. Peace seekers – Beset by the numerous problems they encounter in this world, this is the largest category of people who seek meditation as a solution to their worldly pains and as the means of attaining peace. But the peace that is attained in meditation is only a side-effect of the true goal. When one changes the goal from self realization to attaining peace, they simply lower the goal and find it still elusive.

   3. Self seekers – These are people, ever small in number, who pursue meditation for the reason of self realization; the ultimate goal of life.

      So why should we meditate? 

      
     Every single human being from a sinner to a saint, has 2 goals in life -
      1. Attaining Happiness
      2. Avoiding sorrow.
     
     Most human beings think happiness lies in pursuing some sense pleasure outside of them, in pursuing worldly goals and objects. Example - there are many who find joy in drinking beer. But many find beer distasteful. So if beer has joy within it, shouldn't it be able to give the same joy to everyone who tastes it?

     Truth is, worldly objects have no joy in them. All joys lie within us. Different people have programmed their minds through various incarnations into a state wherein they pursue sense objects which only trigger the joy that is already latent within.


     Yogis and Rishis who meditate in seclusion know this truth and use meditation as the ultimate tool to excavate the joys latent within. Thus saints have declared that finding God is a funeral of all sorrows. Any person who has used meditation to realize the Self, uncovers such treasures within that all treasures of the world pale into insignificance. This is the reason of the utter indifference that saints and sages show to worldly glitz and glamour for they know it to be transitory and fleeting.



WHAT IS MEDITATION?

~ The gist of meditation can be best understood from a single statement made by Lord Christ when He advised His disciples saying “Be still and know that I am God.”


The following experiment can help understand the process of meditation-

Take a transparent bottle, some pure water, some sand, some mud and a small diamond. Put them all in the bottle. This bottle represents the body. The water represents the mind. The sand represents various desires and vasanas. The mud represents thoughts, habits, emotions and feelings that color our mind; and the diamond represents the true you – the Atma.

Now every time the body or mind or desires or thoughts are in action, it is akin to shaking the bottle vigorously.  Think of the chaos it creates, a chaos which covers and camouflages the diamond self.  Almost every human in this world is in this state of being. The more we exercise our emotions, feelings, thoughts and desires under the whims of the ego/mind, the more the chaos increases.

Meditation then is keeping the bottle (body) still, making the water (mind) still, thereby helping to still the thoughts, desires, emotions etc. What happens when you keep this bottle still? Eventually the water will stop revolving and the sand and mud, over a period of time, will begin to settle revealing clean and pure water through which you can then glimpse the diamond. This act of stilling is Meditation.

When motion ceases, Spirit begins to manifest.”: Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

Yoga results when movements and changes in awareness cease”: Patanjali, Yoga sutras.

Be still and know that I am God”: Jesus Christ

Every single word in the above sentence is potent.

BE:  Meditation in its pure form is a state of Being, not a state of doing. Meditation is effortless effort. Those who ‘try’ to meditate are not meditating by their very effort of trying. During meditation one must not even have the feeling that ‘I am meditating.’ Pure self awareness is meditation. It is true that to achieve this state of self awareness one may have to go through different techniques wherein they are required to ‘do’ something in order to then attain this state of Pure self awareness. (We will talk about this later.)

STILL:  Many think meditation to be sitting in stillness with their bodies locked in an asana. Stillness has to go beyond the body to the mind, the thoughts, the emotions, the feelings and the awareness.

When movements of awareness are transcended during meditation practice, consciousness is purified and oneness with the Supreme Self is realized.” Sri Sri Lahiri Mahasaya.

When such complete stillness is achieved by an advanced Yogi, even the workings of the body are temporarily suspended including the heartbeat. The state of the Yogi may look death-like. Sri Paramahansa Yoganandaji states that this is what Saint Paul referred to when He stated, “ I protest by the rejoicing that I have in Christ, I die daily.

KNOW:  Christ does not say: Be still and understand that I am God, simply because understanding refers to a process. Intuitive Knowing on the other hand is direct awareness. For example – I, as a ego-personality am naresh. I don’t need to understand I am naresh. I know, am aware that I am naresh. Similarly by being still, one Knows from direct perceptions one’s reality without taking reference from any third party.
This also reveals another aspect. Divinity is not something that we need to attain. We are already divine. If a white handkerchief turns black due to being rubbed in soil, then in order to make it white again we need not paint it with white color. Simply washing away the dark patches of soil will reveal its inherent whiteness. So also meditation helps us become aware or know through direct intuitive perceptions that we are, always were and always will be divine simply by purifying and stilling the workings of the mind, thoughts and awareness.

I AM:  The ‘I AM’ consciousness is who we truly are. We are not the body or mind or its thoughts and emotions. We are the underlying consciousness, which is witnessing all these changes within our selves, temporarily identifying itself with the body as the ego through the influence of Maya.

GOD:  Even if the word God had been excluded from the sentence it would still be complete. “Be still and know that I AM.” That I AM is the little consciousness called the Atma, which is a part of the ParamAtma – God. 


~  Basics of Sadhana:

Specify a place:

Those who sincerely wish to pursue meditation should identify a certain section of their house where they can daily sit in seclusion to practice their sadhana. The place must be simple, clean and well ventilated. You must be mindful that your place does not obstruct others. Avoid meditating at places which are marked for other worldly activities. Meditating at the same spot helps generate a lot of positive and peaceful vibrations which keep growing with every meditation, thereby making that place your own temple or haven of peace. Sometimes when you come to meditate with a restless mind, these vibrations help in becoming calm and peaceful.


Asana:

During sadhana a lot of pranic energies are channeled in our body. If we sit on the floor in direct contact with earth, our energies mingle with the earthly energy, or what is known as earthing. This is not desirable. Hence it is suggested that we sit on an asana to insulate us from the earth.  In olden days sadhaks used the skin of a tiger or deer (only animals that had died naturally), but since that is not possible today the best option is to use a pure woollen blanket, or a pure silk cloth or a Kusa grass asana.The asana should be thick enough to keep us atleast half inch above the ground.


Sitting Straight:

Every sadhak should keep his / her spine straight, ideally the head, neck and spine should be in alignment. Just as when the garden hose pipe is bent, the flow of water will stop or drastically reduce; similarly if we sit with a bent spine the flow of pranic energy within our spine is affected, thereby preventing deep meditation. 


Sitting Relaxed:

Many people in following the above point of keeping the spine straight tend to tense their bodies. It is vitally important that you keep the body relaxed. Meditation is a process wherein the sadhak is trying to go beyond bodily awareness. If the body is not relaxed, this will not be possible. If any part of the body is tense that means there is extra energy there. Unless we withdraw energy from all body parts by relaxing it, we will not be able to use this energy to take us to higher consciousness.  Ideally five minutes before meditation take time to relax every single muscle of your body consciously. With practice this will come naturally.


Be Aware:

In sadhana it is vitally important to keep the mind from roaming aimlessly while the body sits in a posture. The mind should be very active in the sadhana it is engaged in. 


Practice Devotion and Stillness:

Even when we are doing breathing or visualizing techniques while meditating (more about techniques in later notes), it is good to keep a sense of devotion within us. 

At the end of each meditation it is very important to stay in inner stillness for sometime. This does not include praying or visualize anything. Just rest in that Stillness of the Self. 


When a person is really sleepy, can’t he fall asleep anywhere? So is it with the person who loves God. He can meditate even in a train station or in the market place.

The devotee who makes the supreme effort is the one who finds God. Not the one who keeps seeking excuses, saying, “Let me find a quiet place; then I’ll meditate.” Procrastinators will never reach God. But if you tell yourself, “Right now I will go deep in meditation!” you can be there in an instant.


As long as you try to meditate, you won’t be able to, just as you can’t sleep so long as you will yourself to sleep. Will power should be used gradually. Otherwise, it may become detrimental. That’s why it is better, in the beginning, to emphasize relaxation.


A bent spine is the enemy of realization. In meditation, always hold your spine straight, that the life force may flow through it unobstructed.


Next, hold your attention fixed at the Christ center between the eyebrows. The more deeply you concentrate at that point, the more you will find your ego dissolving in superconsciousness.


A disciple was having difficulty with his meditations. He asked Sri Yogananda, “Am I not trying hard enough?”

The Master answered, “You are trying too hard. You are using too much will power. It becomes nervous. Just be relaxed and natural.


Meditate without attachment to the fruits of meditation.

: Sri Paramahansa Yogananda



Part 2 - Understanding Meditation - 2




3 comments:

  1. Awsm....!!! . :-) .....n thanks loadssss for this blog....need to correct many things and ofcourse trying evrythg mentioned here...looking forward to the next one...

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  2. Hi Naresh, excellent blog! This article I retrieved from my section of FB memories. Are you still writing more articles? Do you post the links in FB? Love and blessings from Chile!!!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Maria,

      Yes I do write more blogs as and when inspired. All my blogs are available through this page itself. You can go to the archives and access them. On the right hand column above you will find a list of blogs that are most popular.
      Love from India

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