One of the primary teachings of the Yoga traditions is that our fears, doubts, and suffering arise from ignorance of our true nature and are burned away through the knowledge of the Self. One way to gain knowledge of the Self is through the practice of meditation. Because meditation allows you to burn away all the false limited notions about what or who you are, it can be seen as primarily destructive in nature. Over time, if practiced regularly, it will reveal your true nature, which is God.
One reason why people enjoy the practice of meditation so much, is because when they take the time to sit quietly, their mind withdrawals from the busyness of modern world (which constantly stimulates their five senses) and they receive a feeling of peace and fullness. When they take the time to look deep inside themselves and listen, they often find answers to some of life’s most important questions. Once they find these answers, a realization comes that everything that exists as latent potential in this universe is already contained within themselves. If we read about Kashmir Shaivism, we will understand that this vast ocean of potential, that lives within each one of us, actually creates and manifests everything we experience in this physical world. Wow!
There is something beyond our mind, which abides in silence. It is the supreme mystery beyond thought. Let one’s mind and spirit rest upon That, and not anything else.
– Kena Upanishad
What is Meditation?
Meditation, despite what most people believe, is not about emptying the mind. Rather, it’s about training the mind to maintain a one-pointed focus, so direct and concentrated, until it eventually becomes absorbed in the object of its contemplation (see this page on How to Meditate for Beginners). Easier said than done, right? A thousand times, our mind will wander. A thousand times, we bring our attention back, gently and softly. It is boring and frustrating sometimes, but rest assured when I tell you that there is a great reward. In time, the mind begins to listen to us. So rare in today’s society, where the mind operates 95% of its day on autopilot. You must understand, that there is great nobility in the attitude of a meditator. It is the attitude of a spiritual warrior, a hero on a journey. One who dedicates and commits themselves to a life of growth and transformation.
We forget how much the process of meditation is about self-confrontation, self-recognization, and the humbling daily encounter with the gap between who we want to be and who we actually are.
– Sally Kempton
What is Required for Meditation? | The Power of Focus
Focus is a kind of mental muscle. When you strengthen it by learning to hold your attention in one place for a while, instead of remaining trapped on the surface, you automatically strengthen your ability to hold subtle states in meditation and to find the inner pathways that lead you deeper. Eventually, this basic practice of catching yourself in distraction and bringing your mind back begins to affect your whole life.
Can you coax your mind from its wandering and keep to the original oneness? Can you cleanse your inner vision until you see nothing but the light? Can you step back from your own mind and thus understand all things?
– Lao Tzu
Once all the distracted thoughts fade, eventually the object of the meditation will also be removed from your awareness. What is left is a feeling of profound peace and contentment. You can call this the state of God, or pure awareness, or bliss, or even perfection. See this state of pure awareness, with its clarity and spaciousness, has the ability to hold everything within itself. In this vast space is where you will find God. You will experience the feeling of being complete on all levels of being. Your daily needs will be fulfilled through meditation. Meditation is your friend, your guide, and your hidden treasure.
The more awareness one has the closer to God one is.
What are the Benefits of Meditation?
The encounter with the Beloved was so entrancing, so ecstatic, and so subtly delicious that its afterglow would pervade my entire day.
– Sally Kempton
It’s about falling in love with the deepest part of yourself. The part of you which is immortal, the merging with God. The more you crave the taste of your inner world, the easier it will become to meditate. After you’ve been meditating for a period of time you will see that Consciousness itself will correct any negative memories (see sanskaras) or imbalances that you may feel. Meditation itself will show you what you need to know. It’s a process, and it evolves.
The most amazing philosophies are discovered in contemplation of your presence.
– Mike Yap
O man, when you have this infinite storehouse of qualities within you, what kind of happiness are you looking for in the external world? You do not meditate, you do not perform good actions, you do not take care of your precious body–how can you find happiness without doing these things?
– Swami Muktananda
When I try to describe my Beloved, I am at a loss for words. She means more to me than any language can describe. What’s funny is that even when she fades from my sight, I still know she’s there. I can feel her. She calls me back time and time again. I am drawn to her; my other half.
When I am with her, everything between us stops. As we stare in each other’s eyes, the fabric of time and space cease. And for a moment, we merge together, in perfect union.
And then she leaves me… so that one day, we can experience this all over again.
To my one and only love. Meditation,
The most important signs of our meditation practice are revealed in our character:
- Our ability to maintain equanimity,
- Our power to keep the mind clear and still,
- Our compassion and kindness,
- Our ability to hold our center no matter what direction life pulls us.
What are some Meditation Tips for Beginners?
Problems that most people have in being unable to make progress in meditation usually comes from a lack of seriousness and/or sense control. The downward tendencies from uncontrolled senses and wrong habits in life make the mind too disturbed and restless. A person may sit down to meditate, physically unmoving, but the mind may be in a whirl, thinking of so many problems, and protesting and straining against doing meditation. This is what often makes it a frustrating and tiring experience.
Give up the feeling that meditation is something that is separate. The antidote for nearly every problem that arises in meditation is to give up the feeling that you and the technique and the goal are separate from each other. The feeling of oneness is so powerful that just thinking about it, even if you don’t believe it, will change the quality of your meditation.
I am God, and all the instruments of my sadhana (spiritual practice) are God. Being God, I will attain God.
Try using a Mantra. For many people, it may be beneficial to try focusing the mind on something such as a sound (see Matrika), rather than trying to completely still the mind. This practice is known as mantra meditation and it involves focusing the mind on a particular mantra. Mantra meditation is an extremely beneficial form of meditation and is actually recommended in this age of Kali-yuga.
Label each thought as energy. Remember, the mind need not be completely still for you to experience the state of meditation. Our job in meditation is simply to keep the mind pointed in the right direction. To help, you can formally label each thought as energy (Shakti). Now recognize what happens to the thought when you recognize it as energy. These energies will come and go (Shakti’s cosmic dance), don’t try to cast them out. Let them be there, but pull back from them. Identify with the one who watches the thoughts (Shiva).
Consciousness plus thoughts is the mind. Consciousness minus thoughts is God.
– Yoga Vasishtha
If certain negative feelings arise, remember, it is not meditation that creates these negative feelings, rather, you already have negative feelings inside you, and meditation is helping you see them so you can let them go.
What is the Significance of my Visions or Feelings?
The realm of the subtle body is huge and contains an almost endless storehouse of experiences. It is as vast as the universe itself. Many meditators linger in different corners of the subtle realm for years, experiencing different visions or feelings.
Most of the visual experiences and feelings that arise in meditation should be looked on as passing phenomena, like our thoughts. However, just as dreams sometimes have significance, so at times do the images that arise in meditation. Their importance may be psychological rather than spiritual.
Some meditators claim to see a blue light, or bindu (point without dimension). This is described in the Tantras as the manifestation point out of which the entire universe arises. When we have a vision of the blue point of light, we are seeing this point of primal, intensely concentrated energy, the sound of Om.
What are the Emptiness vs Fullness Concepts?
One reason I lean towards Tantra over Buddhism is because of the emptiness vs fullness concepts. The Buddhists believe that everything is inherently empty by nature, while the Tantrics believe that there is a perfect fullness in the emptiness.
The concepts “nothing” and “space’ are very interesting. To most people, they imply the absence of anything whatsoever: emptiness, a void. Within this empty space, however, lie innumerable worlds of wonder teeming with life and filled with divine love. I know this to be true because I visit these glorious places daily, and I see them glistening in the eyes of everyone I meet.
– Sri Gawn Tu Fahr
Sometimes people ask me how to feel God. I tell them that once you feel something inside you that is immortal, you will know what God is.
When we raise ourselves through meditation to what unites us with the spirit, we quicken something within us that is eternal and unlimited by birth and death. Once we have experienced this eternal part in us, we can no longer doubt its existence. Meditation is thus the way to knowing and beholding the eternal, indestructible, essential center of our being.
– Rudolph Steiner
Coming Out Slowly (Re-Entry)
The re-entry period is the most important time during your meditation practice. It is the time when your meditation ends and you slowly draw your awareness back to the five senses. Even when we feel we haven’t gone deep, we still need to take time to come out of meditation slowly. When we do, surprising things often happen in the afterglow. Before meditation, set your timer for ten minutes before you have to get up, and when it rings, sit quietly for a few minutes or slide gently into shavasana, the corpse pose.
If you sometimes feel irritable or hypersensitive after deep meditation, it is usually because you haven’t given yourself enough time to return to waking consciousness. We need this time for another reason: it is in the moments after meditation that we begin the process of integration, the process of learning how to bring the stillness of the inner world into our day.
One difference between an enlightened being and a person on the path is that the enlightened being has learned to hold on to his inner experience and make it a part of the fabric of daily life. The skill of merging our inner with our outer world is one of the great arts of spiritual life.
A Full Time Affair
If you are really established in your meditation practice, the knockabout of the everyday world doesn’t shake you. You feel detached, but not because you don’t care or because you have zoned out. Spiritual detachment means that you view the world from a timeless place. To transcend involves finding such a place, knowing it, and making it your home. Remember, detachment is a tool–it’s not a life.
Don’t abandon the world and your near and dear ones. Don’t waste your strength running in every direction in search of God. Don’t lose yourself while you look for peace and rest. Beloved people, stay at home with your husbands, your wives, your children. Be friendly with your crafts, skills, and talents. Stay with your business and factories. God lives within you, as do all holy places, all mantras, all seed syllables, all deities. Lead your normal life and follow your own religion, but always place God first.
– Swami Muktananda
I fully agree with the teaching that true meditation is twenty-four hours a day. There is a great value in setting aside a time-out for sitting silently and experiencing a deeper state inside. But once you open your eyes, refreshed and more centred, what good will it do to throw yourself back into stress and strain? The crucial issue is how to bring inner silence into the real world and make a difference. That’s the part that takes twenty-four hours, because it’s a full-time occupation, and the most fascinating project you could possibly undertake for yourself.
May the great yoga of meditation guide you on your journey back Home.
- My favorite book on meditation is Meditation for the Love of It.