When you listen to the silence in the early hours just before sunrise, something within you resonates as if in recognition of the Reality—–Eckhart Tolly
Meditation is your true nature———–Ramana Maharishi
Helping you to explore the hidden treasures in your soul.
The Cambridge dictionary defines meditation as the act of giving your attention to only one thing, either as a religious activity or as a way of becoming calm and relaxed.’
All of us as humans know that when our mind is calm, quiet and peaceful, how easy it is to take right decisions and experience a real joy in our beings. When the mind is calm, meditation happens spontaneously and when we meditate mind calms down automatically. For a tranquil state of mind, meditation is the only way.
What is Meditation?
With the new awakening in human understanding, the word ‘meditation’ is heard quite often and more and more people want to know about it. It is a process of giving training to your mind to give focused attention on the thing contemplated to be meditated upon. It is giving training to your thoughts to remain calm and still leading to a thoughtless state. It is a form of concentration. While normally concentration can be applied to any activity and it is needed for the successful completion of any task however insignificant it may be, concentration when applied to an aspect of God/Reality/Spirit is called meditation.
The divine potential in human soul is capable of achieving anything it fixes its mind upon. The law of attraction is working secretly. Everything that comes into your life you are attracting it into your life. It is attracted to you by virtue of the images you are holding in your mind. Whatever is going on in your mind you are attracting that to you.
Ramana Maharishi said, “Meditation is your true nature. You call it meditation now because there are other thoughts distracting you. When these thoughts are dispelled, you remain alone, that is, in the state of meditation free from thoughts and that is your true nature.
In meditation we get hold of the camera and direction. Everything remains the same, but we get a new script and a new star. Even biologically we become different persons. Behaviour becomes different, thinking changes, the person is wholly transformed.
Indian Civilization had its origin in the forests and it took a distinct character from this origin and environment. It was surrounded by the vast life of nature, was fed and clothed by her, and had the closest and most constant intercourse with her varying aspects.
The aim of Indian civilization, especially before the Western influence started to have its impact, was not to acquire but to realize, to enlarge its consciousness by feeling the unity of all objects of creation. Under this feeling of harmony for all objects of nature, the forest-dwelling sages of India wanted to embrace all humanity in their fold. In spite of a different view for the nature adopted in the Western civilizations, India put all her emphasis on harmony that exists between the individual and the nature.
The fundamental unity of creation was not a philosophical speculation for India; it was her life’s ambition to realize this great harmony in feeling and in action. With meditation and service, with a regulation of her life, she cultivated her consciousness in such a way that everything had a spiritual meaning to her. Meditation regulated her feelings and service to others brought meditation in action. Such is the base of this great civilization on earth.
The fundamental unity of every aspect of creation was her ideal of perfection as if every note is necessary for completeness of the symphony. True human progress is coincident with the widening of the range of feelings. The theme of hoary Upanishads of Indian heritage, the pinnacle of spiritual glory is “In order to find Him, you must embrace all.”
Nelson Mandela said, “A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dream of.”
To a man of physical sciences, earth and water hold no more meanings than a play of different forces of nature. To a spiritual man it is different. In the Bhagvad Gita, the Lord says, “I am the fragrance in the soil of the earth and taste in the water. Every one of us human- beings especially those living in the Orient know what charm the fragrance in soil of the earth holds, especially when the first rain drops fall on it and how this fragrance enters the crops and vegetables grown in the soil as distinct taste in each variety! Ask a thirsty man about the incomparable satisfying taste of water and he will find himself short of words to describe it. It has satisfied something inner in him. Water has its own distinct taste and no other drink can match it. The water does not only clean man’s limbs, but it purifies his heart. The earth does not merely hold his body but it gladdens his mind; for its contact is more than a physical contact—it is a living presence. This way the spiritual man finds himself in harmony with the gifts of nature.
While considering the subject of meditation, we have to first understand and later realize what we humans are like; what are our strengths and what are our weaknesses. Even a lay human being understands that he can perform activities with his body only till the element of life flows in him. The moment this element (usually called soul) leaves, the human is dead and his physical body is immediately discarded. His existence vanishes from the world. As mentioned in another chapter also, Paramahansa Yogananda has defined souls as the ‘Radiating rays of Spirit, of the same essence as the Spirit is; like sun and its rays. Thus essence of the human souls is essence of the Spirit and has the same potential as Spirit has. This basic fact has not only to be understood but realized at deeper level. The ignorance about this basic potential is the root cause of human miseries and forces him to seek birth after birth. Successive births in human body have wrapped layers on layers of ignorance on the souls (like layers on layers in onions). Here meditation comes as a vehicle to go on a journey within and uncover layers of ignorance one by one to make the soul shine in its glory.
Some people completely drown out in the sound of creation. There is static in untuned nervous system. The process of meditation helps to get nervous system back in tune. All the suffering comes from untuned nervous system.
Meditation is like giving a hug to ourselves, getting in touch with that awesome Reality in us. While meditating we feel a deep sense of intimacy with God, a love that is inexplicable.
Meditation is experiencing love of a different kind, a different flavour. It is a pure unconditional love for the entire existence. In this process, love starts flowing from its Source (God) through the ‘Om’ vibration. Sincere practice will make you realize this for yourself.
Meditation gives us the zeal to do absolutely anything that creates positivity within and around us. It is like warmth in the chilly, wintry life of spiritual wilderness. It gives a great solace.
When you sit in silence of deep meditation, joy wells up from within. The joy of meditation is overwhelming.
Laboratory for Truth
Yogananda says, “Meditation is the only real way to discriminate between truth and error. You should have a place of silence which will be your laboratory to test the truth. Great metaphysicians use temples of silence to distil the divine discrimination in silence. Meditation is the channel that puts you in touch with the Infinite Intelligence. When you commune with that Intelligence you are able to understand all secrets of creation.”
It is an attempt to harmonise the heterogeneous complexity of outward materials by an inner adjustment. In the search we gradually become aware that to find out the One is to possess the All; that here indeed is our last and highest privilege (RabindarnathTagore in ‘Sadhna’).
Living a Balanced Life
Everything in nature is working in balance. The Sun, the Earth, the Moon and countless other stars and planets are revolving in their own orbits in a complete balance. Any object which loses its balance falls down and gets destroyed. Our body itself is a perfect balance on its feet. But to live human life in a balance is a real challenge and here meditation comes as a great aid.
Paramahansa Yogananda says1, “Mankind is like a large zoo-so many people behaving so differently, most of them having no real control over themselves. But before one realizes the true goal of life; he has to have that self-control. He must seek balance. Perfect balance is the altar of God. Strive for this; and once you have attained it, never lose it. Christ did not lose it when he was being nailed to the cross. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The ordinary person cannot bear his tests. He needs a calm, quiet and peaceful mind to gain energy.
Living lives facing dualities of creation drains energies. Besides keeping the physical bodies free from problems of disease etc., the vagaries of mind are hard to control. Thoughts, emotions and feelings continue to play their role every moment and upset the balance of our lives. Like ‘babes’ in the woods of life, we are forced to learn by our own experiences and troubles stumbling into pitfalls of sickness and wrong habits. Let us now see how meditation can be done:
1.Man’s Eternal Quest -145.
How Meditation is done:
Though many names have been given to meditations like Zen, Vipasana, Transcendental, Insight, Mindful, etc. the basic ingredients are the same. It is a process and a discipline of body, mind and soul. Irrespective of age, class, creed, religion, faith, man, women, processes of meditation are the same for every one. It is universally common to all. Any one can practice. Besides bodily discipline, it helps to calm down all the systems in the body, calm down thoughts, calm down mind chatter, emotions and feelings.
For learning anything new in life, help from one who already knows it is necessary. Besides physical discipline, success in meditation also needs blessings from a God-realized master/guru. Joining organizations founded by the masters where monks take care of step-by-step instructions and continue to guide the individual on various steps from time to time is in fact the right course. We will however discuss some basic steps here to inspire the individual to start doing meditations even while waiting for his guide. In his book ‘Just 7 Days to Excellence’, the author has also given basic guidelines to do meditations. The book contains practical exercises in conducting meditations as well.
Although meditation can be done anytime, it is better if done on empty stomach (at least three hours after taking food).The best times are thus early mornings, afternoon hours, evening before taking dinner or before going to bed in the night.
The teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda contain minute instructions for doing meditations. All his teachings revolve around meditations. His series of ‘Lessons’ are available to all truth seekers in the world, irrespective of any kind of affiliations through his organization—YSS/SRF. In his organization regular meditations are done in all centres and temples. Specific techniques of meditation based on scientific principles are taught to lesson members.
Literature on meditations is also available in Ramakrishna Mission Ashrams spread throughout India and the world.
Doing Simple Meditations
For doing simple meditation, the first requirement is to feel totally relaxed and have willingness to sit for some time to remember God alone. This is virtually a pre-requisite for any kind of meditation. Find a silent corner in your home or if nothing seems suitable sit comfortably on your bed itself. First thing is learning to sit still and in silence without movement of any body parts. Make this simple habit as a regular part of your meditation process. The recommended asana(method of sitting) for sitting is ‘Padamasana’ or Lotus posture. If you can sit in this asana it is alright, otherwise sit in easy or sukhasana posture or even on an armless chair. Keep yourself completely relaxed, spine straight but not tense, head straight, chin parallel to the ground or a bit raised upwards. Eyes should be kept closed imagining looking upwards; downwards eyes induce sleep. Keep attention calmly at the place between the eyebrows.
Now do (about ten times) very slow but deep inhaling and exhaling exercise. This will help you to fully relax and oxygenate your body. Now chant Om many times in a deep melodious voice to invoke the presence of God and say a prayer to God in the language of your heart. Keeping attention fixed at the point between the eyebrows, visualise the image of any deity or guru that inspires you or visualise that you are surrounded by a halo of God’s light, thank God that he gave you time to sit for Him and also for so many gifts of life. Keep sitting conveniently for as much as time as you like. You can do Japa (repetition of God’s name) also. Before closing chant Om again many times and say a prayer to God through the words coming straight from your heart.
Ma Anandamayi says:
Initially, sitting for meditation causes uneasiness or pain in one’s limbs. When small children start to learn reading they cannot concentrate. How many books they destroy, how many they tear to pieces and throw away. They do not understand their value. But slowly and gradually, as they acquire fluency in reading, it gives them joy. At first people study in the hope of becoming rich, but later they come to understand the value of knowledge. By labouring hard, practice is acquired. With how much zeal do you learn in order to pass your examinations? Finally you become B.A’s and M.A’s. But here we are concerned with Supreme knowledge. At first the mind does not become steady and one cannot find any delight in the repetition of the name of God or in meditation. The mind is concerned with bodily comforts, just as children spoil their books. By Japa, meditation or other spiritual exercises, one’s thinking has to be brought under control. By practice the mind becomes steady.
Benefits of Meditations:
There are innumerable benefits of meditation. One can not count them on fingers. In fact this affects whole of human’s thinking process. Every segment of life comes under a systematic regulation. One really learns to live his life in a right way. Whole complex of our activity changes from negative to positive.
But mind it that meditation is only a process and results may or may not come in your expected time although they are sure to come. The results are dependent on one’s own sincerity, willingness and zeal to do meditation. Perfect state of meditation being human’s true nature; sooner or later; humanity has to learn this lesson to remain on the path to progress. No one can really run away from it. One day or the other everyone has to kneel down and seek help to learn this process. It is man alone who has run away from his true nature and he alone has to come back. Wise are those who listen to the true counsel of Masters in time and put their life on the road to success.
The power of mind when it remembers and desires, when it thinks again and again, belongs to Spirit. Therefore, let the mind meditate on Spirit.
– Kena Upanishad
The Supreme, being formless, can not be discerned by the senses, hence all knowledge of Him must be acquired by the subtler faculties of the heart, intellect and mind, which are developed only through the purifying practice of meditation.
– Katha Upanishad