Practical Aspect of Meditation
You cannot enjoy peace of mind and cannot practise meditation if there is Vikshepa in your mind. Мikshepa is tossing of mind. Vikshepa is Rajas.
If you apply fire to a green wood, it will not burn; if you apply fire to a piece of dried wood, it will at once catch fire and burn. Even so, those who have not purified their minds, will not be able to start the fire of meditation. They will be sleeping or dreaming-building castles in the air-when they sit for meditation. But those who have removed the impurities in their minds by Japa, service, charity, Pranayama, Asana etc., will enter into deep meditation as soon as they sit for meditation. The pure, ripe mind will at once burn with the fire of meditation.
If you want to keep a garden always clean, you will have to remove not only the weeds and thorns and other small plants but also the seeds that lie underneath the ground which again germinate during rainy season. Even so, you will have to destroy not only the big waves or Vrittis of the mind but also the Samskaras which are the seeds for births and deaths, which generate Vrittis again and again.
Real rest is secured in meditation and meditation only. It is only Dhyana Yogis who practise meditation that can feel real rest in meditation. The mind is fully concentrated during meditation. It is far away from objects and very near to the Atman. There are no Raga-dvesha currents during meditation owing to absence of objects. Consequently, there is manifestation of solid, lasting, real spiritual Ananda with complete, genuine rest.
Considerable changes take place in the mind, brain and nervous system by the practice of meditation. New nerve-currents, new vibrations, new avenues, new grooves, new cells and new channels are formed. The whole mind and the nervous system are remodelled. You will have a new heart, a new mind, new sensations, new feelings, new mode of thinking and acting and a new view of the universe.
The aspirant should be free from hope, desire and greed. Then only he will have a steady mind. Hope, desire and greed make the mind ever restless and turbulent; they are the enemies of peace and Self-knowledge. He should not have many possessions also. He can only keep those articles which are absolutely necessary for the maintenance of his body. If there are many possessions, the mind will be ever thinking of the articles and attempting to protect them.
The aspirant should possess serenity. The Divine Light can descend only in a serene mind. Serenity is attained by the eradication of Vasanas or desires and cravings. He should be fearless also. This is the most important qualification. A timid or cowardly aspirant is very far from Self-realisation.
Without Brahmacharya no iota of spiritual progress is possible. Brahmacharya is the very foundation on which the superstructure of meditation and Samadhi can be built up. You should have perfect control over the body through regular practice of Asanas before you take up serious and constant meditation. You cannot practise meditation without a firm seat. If the body is unsteady, the mind will also become unsteady.
If you are well established in the practice of Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), if you have the senses under your full control, you can find perfect solitude and peace even in the most crowded and noisy places of a big city. If the senses are turbulent, if you have not got the power to withdraw the senses, you will have no peace of mind even in a solitary cave in the Himalayas.
If the body is light, if the mind is clear, if there is cheerfulness; know that you are meditating. If the body is heavy, if the mind is dull, know that you were sleeping while meditating.
Watch every thought very carefully. Shut out all useless thoughts from the mind. Your life must tally with your meditation. You keep up your meditation during work also. Do not give new strength to evil thoughts by constant thinking. Restrain them. Substitute sublime thoughts. Control of thought is sine qua non. You should not waste even a single thought.
Do not store in your brain needless information. Learn to unmind the mind. Forget whatever you have learnt. It is useless for you now. Then only you can fill your mind with Divine thoughts in meditation. You will gain fresh mental strength now.
Positive overpowers the negative. A positive thought drives off a negative one. Courage drives off fear. Love destroys hatred. Unity annihilates separateness. Magnanimity destroys petty-mindedness (jealousy). Generosity drives away miserliness and greed. Keep yourself always positive.
Whatever that elevates you, you can take it up for your advantage, just to elevate the mind and then continue your prolonged meditation. Success in Yoga is possible only if the aspirant practices profound and constant meditation.
Give up anger or ill-will. Give up the spirit of fighting, heated debates. Do not argue. If you quarrel with somebody or if you have a heated debate with anybody, you cannot meditate for 3 or 4 days. Your balance of mind will be upset. Much energy will be wasted in useless channels. The blood will become hot. The nerves will be shattered. You must try your level best to keep a serene mind always. Meditation can proceed from a serene mind only. A serene mind is a valuable spiritual asset.
An aspirant must be sensitive and yet possess the body and nerves completely under control. The greater the sensitiveness becomes, the more difficult is the task. There are many noises which pass unheeded by an ordinary person but which are torturous to one who is very sensitive. Centralise your idea and develop thereby the inner power of the Self. Centralisation of ideas will stop the outgoing habit of the mind and will develop the powers of the mind. Centralisation of ideas means centralisation of your energy.
Energy is wasted in useless idle talks and gossiping, planning and unnecessary worry (Chinta). Conserve energy by getting rid of these three defects and utilise it in meditation on God. If you strain yourself in meditation and go beyond your capacity, laziness and inactive nature will supervene. Meditation should come naturally on account of serenity of the mind induced by the practice of Sama, Dama, Uparati and Pratyahara. Atman is the fountain of energy. Thinking on Atman or the source for energy also is a dynamic method for augmenting energy, strength and power.
Hints on Meditation
- Have a separate meditation room under lock and key. You should be alone yourself in communion with God or Brahman.
- Get up at 4.00 a.m. (Brahmamuhurta) and meditate from 4 to 6 a.m. Have another sitting at night from 7 to 8 p.m.
- Keep a picture of your Ishta Devata in the room and some religious books, the Gita, the Upanishads, the Yoga Vasishtha, the Bhagavata, etc.
- Close your eyes and concentrate gently on Trikuti, the space between the two eyebrows.
- Never wrestle with the mind. Do not use any violent efforts in concentration. Relax all the muscles and the nerves. Gently think of your Ishta Devata. Slowly repeat your Guru Mantra with Bhava and meaning.
- Make no violent effort to control the mind, but rather allow it to run along for a while and exhaust its efforts.
- If evil thoughts enter your mind, do not use your will-force in driving them. You will lose your energy only. You will tax your will only. You will fatigue yourself. The greater the efforts you make, the more the evil thoughts will return with redoubled force. Be indifferent. Keep quiet. They will pass off soon. Or substitute good counter-thoughts (Pratipaksha-Bhavana method). Or think of the picture of God and Mantra again and again. Or pray.
- Never miss a day in meditation. Be regular and systematic. Take Sattvic food. Give up meat, fish, eggs, smoking, liquors, etc
- Be careful in the selection of your companions. Give up going to talkies. Talk little. Observe Mouna for two hours daily.
- When the mind is tired, do not concentrate. Give a little rest.
The State of Meditation
Excerpts from “Concentration and Meditation” by Sri Swami Sivananda