Friday, September 20, 2013

Understanding Meditation - 2




                   

                                          (Continued from   Understanding Meditation - 1)


"The memory of God comes to the Quiet mind" - Acim


WHAT IS MEDITATION:

Many people ask what do you do during meditation? This is difficult to explain to those who have never made efforts to meditate. Many think they cannot meditate.

Everyone meditates though they know it not. A mother always meditates on her newborn. A miser always meditates on money. A young lover always meditates on his beloved. Here, meditation is giving one pointed attention to God within – this can be to God in form or the formless self.

Sri Sathya Sai states that there are 3 you’s:
One - who the world thinks you are.
Two – who you think you are.
Three – who you truly are.

Most humans move between who they think they are and who the world thinks they are. When we meditate we focus on who we truly are.

In our worldly state we are focused on our ego personality which is defined by various boundaries that we draw around ourselves –my name, my family, my education, my status, my job, my religion, my nationality, my sex. Most people function from identification with these definitions.

But during meditation we leave all these identities behind and become Nothing. We focus one pointedly on who we truly are – Consciousness, Awareness, and by so focusing we strengthen our inner self and help it evolve.



Meditation is exclusively or one-pointedly being in a heightened state of Self awareness.



~ 3 STATES OF BEING:

Meditation can be understood by understanding the 3 states of being-


          1. Waking state – The waking state is characterized by an active body and an active awareness.
  

    2. Sleeping state – The sleeping state is characterized by a passive body and passive awareness.

     3.  Meditative state – The meditative state combines the best of both. It involves a passive body, wherein the body, mind, senses, thoughts have been calmed; and an active and focused awareness. This awareness freed from the demands of the body and senses can then focus on our Higher Self.



There is a rule that says ‘ Where your awareness is, there energy is.’ Think about it and you will find this to be true in every aspect of life. Whatever we give our focus and attention to, we activate or give life to that object or goal, whether it is building a house or creating a design or a sportsman achieving a goal.

When we sit for meditation, withdrawing our awareness from the body and mind and focus on our higher self – we activate and energize our spiritual world! The longer and purer the focused awareness the greater the realization of our spiritual world.



~ BEFORE MEDITATION:

A person wanting to meditate cannot just come from a worldly frame of mind and sit and hope to go deep. In the initial stages, before meditation, one must buffer the worldly state and the spiritual state by first orienting the restless mind by some means – be it reading some inspiring book, listening to some talk or some soul music, and thus begin interiorizing the mind.

Then when you sit to meditate, check your body. Are you comfortable? Are you tense or straining some part of your body. Make a mental check of each and every body part from the toes to the top of your head and relax every part. It even helps to talk to the body / mind telling them to now relax and journey along with you into this new world. If done sincerely this helps.. until you come to a stage where the body/mind are well versed with your meditating habit and cooperate willingly.



~ THE 3 STAGES IN MEDITATION:

Meditation involves 3 main stages – Withdrawing, Focusing, Achieving.

    1. Withdrawing – This is the key step, one that most struggle with.
To enter the world of meditation one must first withdraw one’s attention from the outside world.

Let us understand this with an example – Lets say you live in a city called Ego and wish to travel to another city called Atma. You have a car called meditation with which you will have to travel the highway of Sadhana. Now will it be possible for you to travel in the car if your one foot is inside the car and the other half of your body outside. How far do you think you can go? So also your meditation wont go far if you have half of your attention in meditation but the other half mentally roaming the world in restless thoughts. A ship which is anchored in the ground cannot sail far; a mind stuck in worldly thoughts cannot take off on spiritual heights.

If you wish to travel quickly and efficiently you will have to enter the car (meditation) completely, shut the door (of your senses), put on the seat belt (right asana) and then focus on the road of Sadhana.  Think of a tortoise; when it withdraws its limbs and face into its shell, it becomes still like a stone. That is how a good sadhak must do; withdraw himself from the world in order to enter the world of Spirit.
This requires one pointed discipline at the early stages, with practice and devotion this state comes naturally to an sincere yogi.


   2. Focussing – After your attention has been freed from the demands of the world, you can then focus it on the inner world. Just as when you travel on the road in your speeding car, you are one pointedly attentive on the road ahead with your destination as your desired goal. This is the main part of the sadhana and may involve different techniques of sadhana, pranayama or practicing stillness and silence, depending on the path one may follow. On the road there may be many distractions, but giving them your attention will only waste your time and efforts.
Two key requirements in this stage are Patience and Perseverance.

    3. Achieving – this is an advanced stage. When one is able to reach such a stage one is so attuned to the divine inner guidance that one does not need aid of notes such as these..


~ PURE MEDITATION / PRANAYAMAS:

In its purest form, meditation is a state where a soul is purely aware of the self. 

But this is not an easy state to reach instantly. According to the Autobiography of a Yogi, it takes millions of years of good, pure, harmonious living over lifetimes for an ordinary being before he can experience his highest potential as a soul. Knowing this period to be too long, the wise Rishi’s devised methods and techniques following which a person could achieve major shortcuts on their path to realization. Some of these techniques are called Pranayamas. (Control of Prana)

Paranayamas are a form of meditation where we do or perform certain techniques. Even though this is a state of doing, its sole purpose is to quickly lead us to a state of non-doing. Hence Pranayamas are in a way contradictory as well as complementary to the state of Pure meditation.


~ PRANAYAMAS:

Many sincere sadhaks would have felt a sense of frustration when despite their best efforts of keeping the mind still for long periods and keeping a state of calm, they do not feel a sense of advancement or progress. The reason for this is another factor called Prana (‘Lifetrons’, a name Sri Paramahansa  Yogananda coined when He found no appropriate English word for Prana)

Each being is sustained not by food or air or water but by Prana. If food sustained life then we could bring a corpse back to life by feeding it food. The difference between a dead and a live person is that the former has no prana whereas the later does. Thus a human being is known in Sanskrit as Prani (One who embodies prana)

This Prana is a divine energy which comes into the human body from sacred centers in the head region. This is what Christ meant when He said that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word uttered from the mouth of God.”


In most humans who are engrossed in worldly affairs, the flow of this prana is inside-out, where the energy flows downwards and out and is dissipated through the senses, keeping humans matter bound. Now as mentioned above a sadhak may find that despite his best efforts at stilling the mind during meditation he still feels stuck or stranded and not progressing. This is because his prana is in the outward flow keeping his consciousness matter bound.

Through Pranayama techniques this energy’s flow can be reversed to outside - in and upwards.


~ PRANAYAMA & SAGAR MANTHAN:

In the early stages of practicing paranayama, the pranic energy finds itself going in opposite directions. Even if a person sincerely meditates for 2 hours a day, the rest of the time is given to the world. Thus the pranic energy finds itself flowing inwards (during meditation) and then outwards into the senses (during non meditative times). This is similar to the mythological story of Sagar manthan.


In Sagar Manthan there were two sides – the Asuric (sense bound) and the Devic (Spirit bound). These two sides pulled the long serpent rope (Prana / Kundalini energy) to and fro, coiled around the mountain (Spine) and churning the divine ocean (Consciousness).



The first effect of this churning the ocean was the emergence of the deadly halhala poison, which threated to destroy the world. Similarly when a sadhak through sincere sadhana churns his ocean of consciousness, he first awakens the various vasanas and lower desires which lie hidden in the subconsciousness. These vasanas are poisonous enough to keep that soul bound for many incarnations. Just as the benevolent Lord Shiva consumes the poison giving relief to His children, so also a Shivalike Guru takes charge of those vasanas and silently helps his disciple often by consuming or burning those evil tendencies by His grace.

Following the poison, over a period of churning the ocean spewed various celestial gifts in the form of Goddess Laxmi, the divine horse Uncchaishravas, the divine elephant Airavat among other things.. So also by doing intense sadhana over a period of time, the sadhak is gifted with various celestial gifts and powers called siddhis as a result of his sincere efforts.  But a true sadhak will never pay heed to such gifts. He will know that these gifts though opposite of the poison, still are obstacles on the path. A true sadhak will one-pointedly continue his efforts till he receives the final gift - the Amrit of Self Realisation.

Thus after intensive practice a Sadhak will successfully reverse the flow of prana energy fully within. When the effort of the sadhak is sincere and strong, sometimes the pranic energy will flow within with such force that it sometimes lifts the body off the ground. This is called levitation.

Sri Paramahansa Yogananda shares that reversing the pranic energy is what Lord Christ meant when He said that “ Thou shall love the Lord they God with all they heart, mind, soul and STRENGTH” The word strength here relates to the flow of pranic energy within.

Paranayama leads one to the state of Pure meditation. If one only does pranayamas and gets up and leaves then this is similar to milking a cow and then spilling all milk by getting up. Pure meditation must follow. 


The same is recommended even for those who have had darshans of a saint or a holy temple or who attend bhajan sessions. Both, the darshans of a Divine being and bhajans done with devotion, generate intense amounts of beneficial spiritual energies. To partake these one must sit in silent contemplation for some while, at least 5 - 15 mins according to Masters, to let these energies be interiorised and absorbed. 


Finally after a long period of sincere sadhana, a sadhak eventually graduates to a state where he meditates ceaselessly 24*7 without having to sit with eyes closed and senses shut. Every moment of his life becomes meditation, till the time comes where the meditator, the process of meditation and that which is meditated upon, become One. This is Self Realisation.


Don’t feel badly if you find yourself too restless to meditate deeply. Calmness will come in time, if you practice regularly. Just never accept the thought that meditation is not for you. Remember, calmness is your eternal, true nature.

The soul loves to meditate, for in contact with the Spirit lies its greatest joy. If, then, you experience mental resistance during meditation, remember that reluctance to meditate comes from the ego; it doesn’t belong to the soul.

To meditate a short time with depth is better than to meditate for long hours with the mind running wild.

While meditating, don’t concentrate on the results of meditation. Meditate, rather, to please God. If you seek results, you will be disappointed if they don’t come.

: Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda


Just as I sit down to meditate, all the vilest subjects in the world come up. Try a little harder, and meditation comes. In real meditation you forget the body. You may be cut to pieces and not feel it at all. You feel such pleasure, such incomparable joy in it. You become so light. This perfect rest we will get in meditation. 

: Swami Vivekananda.