IN A SILENT WAY...
"When a man knows the solitude of silence, and feels the joy of quietness, he is then free from fear and he feels the joy of the dharma." ― Buddha
In my previous column, I talked about the need to channelize the energies of the Mind through Meditation. Now, let us look into the nuances of the practice of meditation.
Meditation is like a journey through unseen layers of our mind to finally light up our inner core. With this, we reach a stage where our whole being (including all the parts of our mind-conscious, subconscious and unconscious,) becomes revealed to us. At this stage, the seeker becomes the master of the Self. The word ‘Swami’ refers pointedly to this condition.
Those of us who wish to practice meditation would do well to prepare for it a little bit. Just as we prepare for a journey in the outside world, in the same way, we have to prepare for the journey within. Journey into the self needs both physical as well as mental training. When we say physical training, we mean that the body has to be prepared. Our bodies are naturally healthy and are miraculously inclined to maintain optimum health. But due to the modern lifestyle, our bodies are abused and we become stiff and ill suited for meditation. However, with some effort, we can again make it healthy enough to endure sitting without getting restless too quickly.
For meditation, the muscles, bones and nerves in the body have to be flexible enough to not start aching and distracting us when we sit for prolonged duration. Yogis prepare the body with Hatha yoga. We can achieve this by taking up right kind of ‘Vyayama’ and ‘Aahara’ that is by taking the right kind of exercise and food suited to our individual needs. In this regard, Lord Krishna says that a seeker who is 'Yukta', 'regulated' or ‘moderate' in all of the everyday undertakings like eating, sleeping, recreation and execution of work, is most successful in the ‘Yoga of Mitigating Sorrow’ :
Yuktaahara viharasya yukta-cheshtya karmasu - I
Yukta-svapnaavabodhasya yogo bhavati duhkha-ha - II [6:17] ).
Mental training starts automatically when we begin the practice and stick to it on a regular basis. Now coming to the practice itself, many schools of meditation have arisen in the last few decades which address the needs of modern individual and there are hundreds of ways in which one can meditate. For instance, 112 techniques which lead to the state of meditation are described in The Vijnanabhairava Tantra, 2nd BC text.
One common and essential element in all the meditation techniques is ‘stillness’. Meditation truly begins when we have learnt to make the body still. “Stillness of the Body” or “Kaya Sthairyam” is taught exclusively as well as a part of more advanced Yogic practices in Satyananda Yoga tradition.
The Bhagwad Gita provides a very clear path to the whole practice. In Chapter 6, the verses 10-15 describe how the practitioner should go about it. Choosing silent and clean place, spread an asana of Kusha grass or deer skin on it. The seat should be neither too high nor too low. Then "holding the body, head and neck straight, unmoved and stable, fixing the gaze on the tip of the nose, not looking at any other direction, withdrawing the senses and mind from the objects of the world, the seeker should fix the mind exclusively on Me [or the chosen object of meditation].
“Samam Kayayshirogrivam Dharyann achalam Sthirah - I
Samprekshaya Nasikagram Svam Dishashchanavalokayan II” [6.13]
In short, Meditation is all about sitting still, pulling our senses and the mind from outside objects and then focusing it on one chosen object. This chosen object can be a symbol that is very close to our heart.
It can also be the picture of our favourite God. If we are atheists, then we may chose a secular symbol like the flame of a candle. However, the Symbol and Mantra offered by the spiritual Master work wonders in achieving success in mediation.
May the golden Sun of Basant confer joy and bliss upon all of us!