Meditation enables us to enjoy consciously the peace, happiness and revitalization that we unconsciously have in sleep. Meditation lifts us above the cares and anxieties of our daily life, it enables us to overcome our moral weaknesses and evil habits and thus transform our very life. By dispelling ignorance, meditation removes all our morbid and childish fears and leads us to the hall of divine light, where we perceive our self as the immortal essence of all existence, where we realize that we are at once linked in a bond of eternal love with all creation. By enabling us to get in tune with this cosmic substratum and so with others, meditation gives us supernatural powers.
Enjoy deep Meditation by following steps:
Select a calm, quiet, clean and secluded spot or a room or corner of a room in your house reserved for this purpose. Sit there (preferably facing east?the sun rises in the east?or north?there is a great power in the north pole), with a symbol of God or a lighted lamp or candle, placed at eye-level. The best posture is, of course, the lotus posture; if you cannot do this, sit in any comfortable posture with your body erect. The yogi wants you to keep the back straight. All sorts of interesting reasons have been given, and one might be of interest to you. If the small of the back is held in, your back is naturally straighter than before. It seems to promote alertness of the mind. The moment you slouch and the small of the back shoots backwards and the spine curves forward your alertness is gone. The best time to meditate is from 4 to 6 a.m., but if this is not possible do this as soon as you wake up. It is good to have a quick bath; if this is not possible (without loss of the good morning hour), have a quick wash of hands, feet and face.
Chant a few hymns or offer your own prayer (audibly) to the lord: this is like switching the radio on and tuning it. Raise the mind to a higher level. Imagine you are in the presence of god. This may appear to be self-hypnotism, but the results are astounding.
Become aware that you are seated in your room or wherever it is. You are now aware of even your body contact with the seat. The knowledge "I am sitting here"ensures that the mind is also here and does not wander away. If the attention tends to wander, gently but firmly bring it back:"I am sitting here" Become aware of the sensation of the hands resting on your knees or in your lap. Immediately the attention is brought within the body and once the attention is narrowed down, the whole inside seems to be illuminated. You realize that just one thing is happening?breathing. You are breathing.
Chant "OM" deeply, concentrating on the solar plexus, feeling that the sound vibrations arise from there. Feel that these sound vibrations travel upwards towards the crown of the head, through the vagus nerve. They actually will. When they reach the throat-region close your lips and continue ommmmmmm and let the sound fade out at the crown of the head. Do this three or six times.
It is one of those ironies of life that we seem to be interested in so many wonderful things in this world without paying the least attention to the greatest wonder which is breathing. It is because we are breathing that we are alive, that we are able to enjoy life. It is a supreme wonder. Ask yourself: "What makes you breathe out and having exhaled?what makes you inhale again?" What makes one take the next breath, or in other words, how does the breathing go on? When you pay attention to this you have forgotten where you are sitting. That is, the attention has gone still deeper within yourself and is now ready to go even deeper down. Breathe normally, effortlessly. At the same time, close the glottis a little bit, so that the breath itself produces some sound. (It is not the vocal cords but the glottis that helps to produce this sound.) Let this sound also fade away and not stop abruptly. You will find that your mind follows this sound and "goes inwards." You may do ujjayi or bhramari pranayama.
Breathe gently now. Watch the breath. Try to listen to it without producing any sound even with the throat. It is good to use a visualisation of the nadis in conjunction with the breathing to bring about more intense concentration of the mind. Visualise the inhaled breath flowing down the ida and the pingala nadis on both sides of the spine. Hold the breath (Kumbhaka) for just a moment. (Kumbhaka literally means "epot-like" which alludes to the abdominal cavity being filled by the inhaled breath.) Visualise the exhaled breath ascending up the sushumna (the central channel), at the same time drawing the abdomen in and up, as in uddiyana bandha.
Now the only thing you are doing is breathing. That is the only action, motion, movement. Become aware of this. Let there be the inner awareness, "I am breathing," and let this stop the mind from doing something else. Gently but firmly hold on to the awareness, "I am breathing"
Repeat your mantra (any name of god or sacred formula or "OM") as you breathe in and out, without straining the breath. Associate the mantra with the breath?this is the trick. Repeat it once while you breathe in and once while you breathe out. If the mantra is long, repeat half while inhaling and the other half while exhaling, without breaking it. Without tension you gently but actively keep listening to the mantra being heard within yourself. Become more and more deeply aware of this sound. Listen to it with all your heart, with all your attention.
Keep looking at the picture, symbol or the flame in front of you (that is what you have been doing all the time, at least from step 5 above) but transfer that symbol to within yourself. Feel that the image is in your own heart. See it there. Do not stare at the picture or flame in front; if you do, then your eyes will get tired and begin to smart. If you merely look without staring or focusing you will find that the symbol goes out of focus. Do not worry. Your eyes will not blink. They will not water or smart.
Now close your eyes if you like, and visualize that image of god clearly within your heart. Let it be radiant and living. If the mind tends to wander keep the eyes open, looking within.
Gradually let that image expand till it occupies your whole body, the room in which you are sitting and eventually the whole world. Feel this. Feel that you yourself are just a little part of god, one with him.
Sit like this for a minimum period of 20 minutes. (The preliminaries may take about 10 minutes.) Gradually increase this period.
After this period is over, offer a prayer to the lord for the health and long life of sick people (whom you can actually visualize in front of you) and the peace and prosperity of those who are suffering.
Get up slowly. Do not immediately run away. Take a few minutes before you leave the meditation room. Your mind and your nerves were extremely calm during this practice and if you suddenly jump out of that mood and rush into company, you might injure the nerves. This is very important.
You can practice this at other times, too?several times a day. Do not sit for this practice within two hours after a meal. Do not wear tight clothing.
Do not eat anything for half an hour after this practice. And do not take bath immediately either.
If you wish to do a few rounds of pranayama, you may do so before you start this meditation practice or soon after step 2 above. Bhastrika is useful.
If the mind wanders open your eyes, gaze at the picture and start all over again from step 5 above.
Japa (repetition of a mantra) itself will lead to meditation. The lord's grace will lead you to meditation and samadhi.
If evil thoughts enter the mind, do not pay any attention to them. Let them depart, as uninvited guests will if totally ignored! Go on with your japa, visualizingIt is very important to see that the body and mind are relaxed. There should be no tension anywhere. The posture of the body should be steady but not tense. The mind should be concentrated on the object with ease: otherwise, every extraneous thought entering the mind will also get fixed there! Let go your hold on the world and gently hold on to the thought of god.
The secret in meditation is to be active without effort. Usually we are either active and full of effort or we go to sleep. But there is a state which is the happy medium between the two?to be awake and alert, but without struggle.
In the initial stages of meditation it is possible that as soon as the mind is concentrated and you begin to do japa, something you had forgotten is recollected by the mind. If it pertains to the business of the day, the mind is distracted. It is therefore advisable (in the initial stages) to keep a piece of paper and pencil by your side and note these down, so that the mind may be reassured that they will not be forgotten again and that it could go on with the japa. Use your commonsense in overcoming such obstacles. the lord in the heart. If the mind wanders, resort to mental worship; or, open your eyes again and gaze at the image.
One of the main reasons why this meditation exercise is performed in the early morning hours is because it is then that the ego-sense arises after the period of deep sleep earlier. It is therefore possible to ask oneself: "Where was this ego-sense a few minutes ago? How does it arise and what is its source?"
Even during the day, close your eyes every hour and consciously withdraw the mind from the world, repeat the mantra and meditate upon god for just a few seconds. Keep up the current. If you keep a small japamala (rosary) in your pocket, it will help.
By even attempting to practice meditation you will enjoy peace of mind and the ability to concentrate the mind at will wherever you are.
Another period of meditation just before going to bed is of incalculable benefit. It carries the fruits of meditation into the state of deep sleep. A great spiritual teacher said that if you restore order to the mind before you go to sleep, the mind is free to refresh itself thoroughly. Meditation restores order to the mind.