Sunday, August 02, 2009

How to meditate?

"huh.. can't believe I put almost 6 hours to write and design this article.. you better put it to use in your life and make good use of it... lol..."
Hoping that you have read my previous write-up on “Why to meditate?” you will now understand better on how to meditate.

The internet is full of information about the various forms of meditation and the various techniques that one can perform. Though many are useful, many are also more glamorous which lures one to try those techniques. Remember one thing always. There is nothing glamorous about meditation because meditation is not what you show others and neither is it something that should be potrayed as something that is impressive.

Currently, many people are attracted towards spirituality and thus want to get into meditation but very few actually succeed. When they hear about it or see someone meditating and talking about the good effects of meditation, they get geared up to “try” it. But little do they give attention to few things due to which they fail. I would like to give you very straight practical tips on not how to meditate, but how to meditate successfully.

You need some mental preparation first. Spend a few minutes pondering and contemplating on a few things mentioned here.
  • DO NOT UNDER/OVER-ESTIMATE: First, do not overestimate or underestimate the powers of meditation. You are overestimating its powers when you take the act for granted. It looks very simple and to many it is sitting in one place with eyes closed. Those who have never meditated can try sitting with eyes closed without a single thought for only 60 seconds and you will understand why people fail. This is overestimating. Underestimation is when you do not believe in the powers of meditation which automatically means that you do not believe in yourself because meditation does not work on its own like magic but it needs your soul to be on the driver seat on the diiferent vehicles (techniques. So, first trust and believe that you have the power to successfully meditate and achieve whatever you want.
  • WHY MEDITATE? Every single thing you want to do should have a purpose, then only will you move ahead. Think about why do you want to meditate? Find out your motive. Is it to achieve mental peace, achieve success, stay happy and calm, grow as a better human being, improve health and relationships, or spiritual growth towards enlightenment? Make it very clear before you even attempt. If you are directionless and don’t really know why you want to meditate (which many people really don’t know) then you may read my previous post “Why to meditate?” If you already are a spiritual person then you might feel guilty of having a motive to meditation. Not all people who attained liberation (moksha) began with the sole motive of nirvana. There are so many other good motives in life that can get you strongly to concentrate and focus on. Don’t worry about the spiritual benefits, they will surely follow (whether you want it or not!). So, when you know why is it that you want to meditate, you now have a clear focus and more importantly a motivation. Motivation is very important for you to develop interest.
  • DESIRE: Where does the motivation come from? Desire! So if anyone has told you that it is wrong to have a desire it is false. People are generally told to develop no desire. There is a wide difference between good desires and bad desires. Undoubtedly, the desireless quality does exist but in highly evolved spiritualists, and if you were highly evolved then you wouldn’t have been reading this. So, there is still time to reach there at which stage the desire will vanish on its own. But right now you have to have desire. If someone still insists you should not have desire, then let them know that the eagerness to not have desire is also a desire! So, get guilt-free and get that burning desire to achieve whatever it is that you aspire through meditation. The results of your meditation is directly proportional to your desire to meditate. And as told earlier, to have that desire, you need motivation and for motivation you should know WHY you want to meditate. If things are clear till here, proceed reading, if not, read again from the top.
  • EXCUSES: Once the above three steps are clear and you have decide that you have to meditate, make up your mind on what are you going to do about the excuses that your mind is going to make here onwards. Maybe you are highly charged with idea of meditating right now but trust my words, excuses will come once you begin. I mention a few here so that you are well prepared to handle them the moment excuses start raising their hood within you. Time is the biggest excuse. When I question my students many say they don’t have time. Then, I start asking them carefully what they do from the time they wake up in the morning to the time they go to sleep at night and they go tiringly explain all the daily common chores and responsibilities they have to go through. But, surprisingly when I calculate meticulously all the spare periods during the waking hours, they themselves are amazed to know that they have more than two hours everyday that is absolutely nonproductive and wasted in the myth of being actually busy. So, even the time that you are going to spend daily on meditation should be decided upon earlier and planned for. What use is life if you have only time for somebody else or something else and don’t have 15 minutes to spend for the most important person in the world– You! Plan out your time. At least 15 minutes in the morning after you wake up and 15 minutes before going to bed to start with. For absolute beginners even 5-10 minutes is excellent. Now, when you have decided the timings that you will spend with ONLY yourself, make sure it is the time when there is nothing else that you would be needed to do. Also make sure that nothing disturbs you – phones, television, people. Shut these gadgets off and let your people know that you would not want to be disturbed for that little time. If meditation is taboo to them, then no need to mention this to them because then you will only add up something to your obstacle list. Choose an appropriate time that only you on earth can decide; not me, not anyone can. Other excuses that you may notice within you are excuses for oversleeping and laziness. The excuses for laziness will come in hundreds of very convincing forms. Be alert to catch and destroy these immediately before they grow into a deadly habit of procrastination.
  • PATIENCE: Meditation, as you know, is basically zeroing down on thoughts to a stage where at a given point of time there are zero thoughts in the mind. Once you begin witnessing such zero-thought states in flashes between intervals of a huge traffic of thoughts, then focus on increasing the time of the no-thought stage. For this patience is something that is very important. Patience is required even to sort out the biggest obstacle that I just mentioned about – excuses. Don’t sit down there and expect to see light or your guardian angel or a vision or some exciting sounds or colors, and not enlightenment please. You first got to understand that this is a training process, where first you will have to train your mind to get used to this habit. Once you begin, you will begin to know how the mind wanders and how difficult it is to tame the mind. I said difficult not impossible. Any new habit (especially a good one) is difficult but know that the fruits are sweet. Remind yourself again and again about your goal or motive that you would like to achieve with meditation. Have the picture crystal clear. Make a mental video of what you want to achieve. Play this video everytime you are distracted. It could be a movie where you see yourself perfectly healthy and enjoying the activities that you would just freak on. It could be a movie of you sitting in your dream office cabin and enjoying that job that you always wanted to do. It could be that BIG thing that you always wanted to do in life. Watch this movie repeatedly and enjoy every bit of it. For spiritual aspirants create your own video of how you would see yourself after achieving higher spiritual levels. It is more sensible to watch this mental movie directed and produced by you rather than getting disappointed with the obstacles and losing hope. Do what you must, but spend that 15 minutes entirely with yourself (yes, even if it does not actually turn out to be meditation in the beginning). But all the time keep playing your mental movie whenver it is required. Now, the movie is not your meditation but this is just something that you keep handy to play just in case you are not able to meditate on a given day or time. Instead of calling it off in 5 minutes, spend the entire 15 minutes that you so meticulously planned. Spend it with yourself – for yourself. Eventually you will be spending more quality time in quality meditation.
After you are mentally prepared there are few things that you need to prepare yourself for:
  • ~ A secluded place in one part of your house or garden where you wont be disturbed and preferably the same place where you can sit everyday.
  • ~ Be comfortable in whichever position you sit, either on the floor or chair.
  • ~ Keep your spine erect.
  • ~ If you are sitting on the ground sit on a woolen blanket and if you are sitting on the chair keep your feet firm on the ground.
  • ~ Make sure you are not hungry or have just had meals.
  • ~ Preferable and recommended time to meditate is anytime between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. or just before you go to bed.
Now, once you are mentally and physically prepared, you need to know how to meditate. There are various methods of meditation and you may want to experiment with a few. The methods I mention here are only the ones that I have tried and successfully used, the ones which I can speak with authenticity. Follow whichever suits you but know that the ultimatum of any meditation technique is to connect to your inner self or connect to divinity. This connection happens when all your distracting thoughts slowly start reducing and comes to point where there is no thought at all. This is where you would need patience till the mind is trained. Currently, you are dominated by your thoughts and they take you wherever they want and whenever they want and you helplessly follow wherever your mind takes you. But with patience in meditation practices, you will soon learn to control your mind and command your thoughts to obey you so that you can channel your thought energy towards the healthy and positive aspects of life.
Here are few that I feel are practical and effective ones:
  • Watch your thoughts: The simplest process is simply sitting with your eyes closed and watching your thoughts. Here there is no judgment made on any thought. Avoid thinking, judging or classifying any thought. Know that you are now sitting and putting all your attention into observing thoughts. You would not want all your energy to be focussed on what you are trying to avoid – thoughts. So give them no attention. Instead sit back and observe them come and go. When you stop feeding thoughts with any energy (attention) you will see that they are starved and slowly fade away. Just watch every thought being completely detached as though they have nothing to do with you. Soon, you will see the intensity and quantity of thoughts start reducing until you are totally empty of any thoughts. Thus you will experience what is nothingness, which you may have only read in books.
  • Simply stare: Another method is to look/stare at something so that all your attention is totally focussed on that something. That something can be a small dot on the wall, a small point of glow or light, a candle flame, an image of a deity or God or even a picture of your dreams. Look at this object and get engrossed. This is similar to what you feel when you are deeply thinking about something with your eyes open. You must have noticed that even though your eyes are open you get so engrossed that you don’t even hear anyone calling out to you. This happens to all very naturally. While reading a book, watching your favorite program, day dreaming, etc. Try it right now. Reading these letters try to think about something you love. As you do that you will see these words getting blur and as your eyes remain fixed, you are lost in thought. Apply the same technique for meditation and be astounded by great results. Again, it will take patience and practice before you can go into this mode whenever and wherever you wish to.
  • Chant: Chanting or recitation is another effective method of applying your concentration on a set of words or mantra. The words can be those magic words that you want to achieve in life, like success, love, health, happiness, peace, etc. Sanksrit mantras are very effective because they contain those vibrations that make a great impact on you when they are recited with concentration. These syllables contain those vibrations that were initially discovered by great saints during higher levels of meditation. So, if you want mantras to be effective make sure you use the correct pronunciation and feelings. Understanding the meaning and being aware of the meaning while you recite is equally important. With a few “quality” recitations the vibrations in your physical body starts changing and you go into deeper states of meditation with every recitation. If you mind is distracted visualize that distracting thought convert into a flower and offer the flower to the divine and continue reciting. Using a japa mala (rosary or beads) helps. Many think that mala is used to keep a count like 54 recitation or 108 recitation. Its not the number of recitation that is important but the quality of each recitation. This helps when mind gets distracted. When the mind wanders, the movement of the finger from one bead to the other gently reminds you of what you are doing and brings you back to meditation. You can chose a mantra depending on what changes you would like to bring into your life. The most effective mantra is the mantra that a guru decides for you and initiates you into (mantra deeksha) and this mantra helps you drastically in your spiritual progress.
  • Devotion: This approach is highly suitable for emotional people. If you are one who get emotional easily or whose heart flows out with love very easily then this is an easy approach. You can either yourself sing songs of devotion and love or listen to devotional music and get engrossed in it. Again, the feelings and emotions play an important role here. You can think about the divine, whichever religion you belong to and pour out your love. What happens when you do this is that your vibrations raise and when your vibrations are higher no lower vibrational thoughts will ever enter your mind. Ecstasy and bliss can be obtained with high energies running in your physical and emotional body. The logic mind users will find this technique difficult because their conscious mind will always dominate their subconscious thus not allowing to feel emotions freely. For such people other approaches are better. But those who can cry at the drop of a hat and are sensitive to the emotions of life, can easily get into this mode. You need not be religious to do this. You can also just close your eyes and witness yourself in situations that give you immense happiness. It may be just entering into imaginative moments with nature, animals, babies, old people, etc; anything that triggers that sense of happiness and peace in your. Your favorite soft and melodious music can enhance your experience.
  • Yoga: Now-a-days yoga is not a taboo anymore and you find people of all races practicing this for better health and vitality. I would not want to get into minute details of yoga as the information is freely available on different asanas and pranayamas. If done rightly, this process can be meditative. If this method interests you, then I would highly recommend Baba Ramdev’s 7 asanas and 7 pranayamas. Asanas involve 7 different postures of the body. If you become aware of each and every part of your body while doing each asana then it becomes a meditational process. Pranayama involves 7 different breath work like anulom vilom, kapal bhathi, bhastrika, bahya, agnisar, bramhari and udgeet. Being aware of your breath totally while doing these pranayams will get you into the meditative state. While you do these pranayamas with breath awareness, the cosmic energy starts flowing into your body thus also activating your chakras and nadis. This is how yoga bring health and vitality along with spiritual growth to people who practice it consistently and correctly.
  • Awareness: This method is very simple but requires consistent practice to master. Here you simply sit in a steady posture and bring your awareness at one point or body part at one given time. Close your eyes and start with bringing all your attention and awareness to the toes, then after a while move your awareness to your soles and then to the ankles, calves, thighs, etc and move upwards part by part to every part of the body. While you do this don’t react to any thought or sensations in the body. You will be surprised to know that there will be different bodily sensations that surface up during this technique, right from small tingling to a sensation of itching to sometimes aches and pain. The aim here should be not to react to any sensation or feeling but just observe it without being attached to it. Surprisingly, the sensation or feeling will emerge and subside on its own if not given attention to. This can be experimented to relieve yourself from aches and pains. Bring your attention to that body part or area which is disturbing you and be totally aware of how that sensation is without reacting to it. Feel the sensation however odd it might feel. Slowly you will see it fade away. This method is very effective in gaining mastery over the mind.
So, these are some practical methods of meditating. Though you may find hundreds of other methods on the internet, it is more important as to which one appeals to you. Each and every method works but what works on one person need not necessarily work on the other person. The amount of intensity you get in one method may not be achieved in another method. So experiment a little with any of these or all of these and settle down with the one that gives you the best result and you find easy to do.

Do not discuss your practices with others as you will only waste energy and can get open to critisism that can demotivate you from your path. Also, discussing your practices with others gives rise to your ego and once the ego comes in, the best of progress can tumble down. You might feel the urge to share with others all the mystical experiences that you witness, but do not share it with everyone for you risk being mocked and being discouraged, but if you still feel like sharing, share it with like-minded people who are well aware of the way the mystical things work . But again, share it with the only intention of learning and growing but never out of pride.

Ultimately, remember this. It will certainly take time to master meditation and all great meditators began with this small step that you intend to take. Initially, it may sound, look and feel awkward but once you start gaining momentum you will begin to notice the changes that it brings to your personality and all the wonderful metaphysical results it brings to you, which will become your motivation to achieve better tranquility and state of mind – unaffected by anything. This will start paving the way towards the manifestation of whatever dreams you have held within you, however impossible they would have seemed to you. Don’t believe me? I can’t be your proof, you yourself will be. Stay blessed!

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