”Dhyanam nirvishayam manah”: – That state of the mind wherein there are no Vishayas or sensual thoughts is meditation.
”Tatra pratyayaikatanata dhyanam”: – A continuous flow of perception or thought is Dhyana (meditation). There is continuous current in the mind of one object like the flow of water in a river (Pravaha). There is only one Vritti in the mind.
Meditation destroys all causes of sorrow. Meditation gives vision of unity. Meditation induces sense of oneness. Regular meditation opens the avenues of intuition knowledge, makes the mind calm and steady, awakens an ecstatic feeling. Many of your doubts will be cleared by themselves during meditation.
Real rest can be had during meditation when the mind rests in Atman.
In dream also you will begin to exercise control gradually. You will check the mind when it does an evil act. The force of your Sadhana done in the wakeful state will come to your aid in the dream. This is a sign of your spiritual growth. Watch the dream carefully.
How to Meditate
Keep the head, neck and back in one straight line. Face East or North. A spiritual neophyte should observe this rule. When you are a neophyte in meditation, start repeating some sublime Slokas or Stotras (hymns) for ten minutes as soon as you sit for meditation. This will elevate the mind.
Whatever you meditate on in silence should be manifested in daily life. You should keep up poise and harmony in action. You will be ever peaceful. Then only you will enjoy the real fruit of meditation.
When the body is light and without diseases, the mind without desire, when the colour is shining, the voice sweet and the smell pleasant, when the excrements are few, they say, the first degree of concentration is gained.
Five things are indispensable if you want to practise vigorous meditation and attain Samadhi or Self-realisation quickly. They are Mouna, light diet, solitude with charming scenery, personal contact with a teacher and a cool place.
You will enter into deep meditation only if you lead a moral life.
You must have a mental image of God or Brahman (concrete or abstract) before you begin to meditate. When you see the concrete figure of Lord Krishna with open eyes and meditate, it is the concrete form of meditation. When you reflect over the image of Lord Krishna by closing your eyes, it is also concrete form of meditation but it is more abstract. When you meditate on the infinite abstract light it is still more abstract meditation. The former two types belong to Saguna form of meditation, the latter to Nirguna form.
Even in Nirguna meditation there is an abstract form in the beginning for fixing the mind. Later on this form vanishes and the meditation and the meditated become one. Meditation proceeds from the mind.
When the mind becomes steady in meditation, the eye-balls also become steady. A Yogi whose mind is calm will have a steady eye. There will be no winking at all.
Concentrate and meditate on the expansive sky. This is also another kind of Nirguna meditation. By this method of meditation, the mind will stop thinking of finite forms.
You must be regular in your practice of meditation. Rapid progress and great success can be attained if regularity is observed by the practitioner. Even if you do not realise any tangible result in the practice, you must plod on in the practice with sincerity, earnestness, patience and perseverance. You will get success after some time. There is no doubt of this. Do not stop the practice even for a day, under any circumstance.
If you keep lemon-juice or tamarind-juice in a golden cup, it is not spoiled or tainted. If you keep it in a brass or copper vessel, it is at once spoiled and rendered poisonous. Even so, if there are some Vishaya-Vrittis (sensual thoughts) in the pure mind of a person who practises constant meditation, they will not pollute the man and induce Vikara (passionate excitement). If there are sensual thoughts in persons with impure minds, they cause excitement in them when they come across sensual objects.
At 4 a.m. do Sirshasana for 5 minutes. Then take rest for five minutes. Then sit and meditate. You will have wonderful meditation. All saints and Yogis practise meditation at this period and send their spiritual vibrations to the whole world. You will be highly
benefited by their vibrations if you start your prayer, Japa and meditation at this period. You need not exert. The meditative state of mind will come of itself.
Before doing meditation, do 20 mild Kumbhakas. Then sit for meditation. Pranayama drives away Tandri and Alasya (drowsiness and laziness) and makes the mind steady.
An aspirant who meditates in a solitary upstair room in a town will have as much quiet there as in a forest. But he will not have the congenial spiritual vibrations there as in Rishikesh, Uttarakasi or Gangotri. Vibrations play a vital part in the elevation of mind and in producing Ekagrata of mind. In these holy places the vibrations of Rishis are lodged in the ethereal space and the aspirants are highly benefited by these vibrations. Vairagya, Sattvic Bhava and the meditative mood come by themselves without effort
or struggle in these holy places. It is only sages and Yogis who can know at once the nature of vibrations of a place for meditation.
Requisites for Meditation
God has hidden Himself in this world (immanent) and is seated in the cavity of the lotus of your heart. He is an absentee landlord. You will have to seek Him through concentration and meditation with a pure mind. This is the real play of hide and seek.
A cool Sattvic place like Uttarakasi, Rishikesh, Lakshmanjhula, Kankhal or Badrinath is necessary for meditation, because the brain gets hot during meditation.
Meditation is possible when the mind is full of Sattva Guna. The stomach should not be loaded. There is an intimate connection between the mind and the food. A heavy meal is harmful. The night meal should be light for those who meditate.
Every human being has within himself various potentialities and capacities. He is a magazine of power and knowledge. As he evolves, he unfolds new powers, new faculties and new qualities. Now he can change his environments and influence others. He can subdue other minds. He can conquer internal and external nature. He can enter into superconscious state.
Mind is Brahman or God in manifestation. Mind is God in motion. As Brahman is approachable by means of the mind it is only proper to meditate upon the mind as Brahman.
You want for meditation a properly trained instrument (mind). It should be calm, clear, pure, subtle, sharp, steady and one-pointed. Brahman is pure and subtle and you need a pure and subtle mind to approach Brahman.
Mind feels tired after hard and protracted work. It cannot therefore be Atman. Atman is the storehouse of all powers (Ananta Sakti). Mind is only an instrument of Atman. It should be properly disciplined. Just as you develop the physical body through gymnastics and various kinds of physical exercises, so also you have to train the mind through mental training, mental culture or mental drill.
Before saturating the mind with thoughts of Brahman you will have to assimilate the divine ideas first. Assimilation first and then saturation. Then comes realisation at once without a moment’s delay. Remember this triplet always: ASSIMILATION- SATURATION-REALISATION.
Leading a virtuous life is not by itself sufficient for God-realisation. Constant meditation is absolutely necessary. A good virtuous life only prepares the mind as a fit instrument for concentration and meditation. It is concentration and meditation that eventually lead to Self-realisation. Haste makes waste.
It behoves well that advanced Grihastha Yogic students (householders) will have to stop all the worldly activities when they advance in meditation, if they are really sincere. Work is a hindrance in meditation for advanced students. That is the reason why Lord Krishna says in the Gita ”For a sage who is seeking Yoga, action is called the means; for the same sage who is enthroned in Yoga (state of Yogarudha), serenity (Sama) is called the means.” Then work and meditation become incompatible like acid and alkali or fire
and water or light and darkness.
Why do you close your eyes during meditation? Open your eyes, and meditate. You must keep your balance of mind even when you are in the bustle of a city. Then only you are perfect. In the beginning when you are a neophyte you can close your eyes to remove the distraction of mind, as you are very weak. But later on you must meditate with eyes open even during walking. You can meditate only when the mind is beyond all anxieties.
Resist the fatal downward pull by the dark, antagonistic forces through regular meditation. Check the aimless wanderings of the mind through clear and orderly thinking. Hear not the false whispers of the lower mind. Turn your inner gaze to the divine centre. Do not be afraid of the severe setbacks that you will encounter in your journey. Be brave. March on boldly till you finally rest in your centre of eternal bliss.
When you meditate, disregard the substratum awakenings in the mind that arise out of the senses. Avoid carefully the comparisons with all other cross references and memories of ideas. Concentrate the whole energy of the mind on the one idea of God or Atman itself without any comparison with any other idea. The student of Yoga should not possess much wealth as it will drag him to the worldly temptations. He can keep a little sum to meet the wants of the body. Economical independence will relieve the mind from
anxieties and will enable him to continue the Sadhana uninterruptedly.
In summer, it is rather irksome and difficult owing to perspiration to have long sittings for meditation. So, have only two sittings during summer. Winter is very favourable for meditation. In winter the mind is not tired at all. You can meditate even for 24 hours without the least exhaustion.
Just as cannabis indica, opium or alcohol gives you intoxication, even if you take a small quantity, and lasts for some hours, so also the God-intoxication that you get from regular meditation, lasts for some hours if you meditate for half an hour daily. Therefore be regular.
Excerpts from “Concentration and Meditation” by Sri Swami Sivananda