Meditation is a simple no cost solution to Peace and Happiness. It needs no paraphernalia. It is not associated with any religion or cult. However most people wanting to start (Including me) have reservations.
- Its not for me – I am not a Yogi.
- I cant sit quiet and control my mind, too many thoughts come to me
- Who will initiate me, what technique should I practise
I want to share a few simple steps which will allow anyone to get started and progress to a level that he/she will start seeing benefits a in a few weeks. After that its your interest and discipline on how to take it forward.
Whats the benefit of Meditation and why should I do it
The visual below says it all – You gain nothing but you lose a lot of negative elements. Meditation is all about cleansing, purifying and energising your Mind. A restless, wandering Mind is a liability like a rogue elephant, but a Controlled Mind is a source of enormous energy like a tame elephant.
Step – 1 : Getting Started. A Still Body helps in a Still Mind – Sit still for 15 minutes
Get started by sitting quietly, motionless and still for 15 minutes a day. Find a quiet place, preferred time is early morning or before you sleep. Your last meal should have been 2 hrs prior. When I say still I mean ROCK STILL. Sit on a hard surface preferably the ground. Use a cushion so that its comfortable. Spine erect, no back rest. No bending, no twisting, no itching. Sit with your eyes closed. Dont worry about thoughts – let your mind wander. If you hear sounds observe it.
Step – 2 : Sit still for 15 minutes and Observe your Breath
At any instant of time the mind cannot multiplex. If you are playing TT and take your eyes off the ball for a split of a second you will miss hitting the ball. So focus your attention on something as you sit rock still. The easiest thing to focus is your natural breath. Life started with your first breath and will end with your last. Your breath is your closest companion.
Initially take a few deep breaths and feel the air go down deep into your abdomen and then come up as you exhale. Hold the inhaled breath at the pit of your stomach for a few seconds and then release. To increase your attention and keep the mind occupied you can chant HUM as you inhale and SOU as you exhale. Or you can chant a long deep OM and observe the inhalation and exhalation. After some time shift to observing the normal rhythm of your breath as it enters and exits your nostrils.
Sounds easy, anybody can do this.
Once you are comfortable with 15 minutes slowly increase it to 20, 25, 30 minutes and then to 60 minutes in one sitting.
If you want a formal session on breathing meditation attend one of the Anapana sessions conducted by the Vipassana Research Institute.
Step – 3 : Variations – Observe a Flame (Trataka)
This version of meditation is best done at night or in a dark room.
The practice of Trataka is done by sitting on ground keeping the spine and the back straight. A candle or lamp is placed at the same level of your eyes at a distance of one metre. Now keeping the mind relaxed one should look at the bright portion of the flame without blinking, till the tears start coming out of your eyes. Do not rub or wipe the tears, let it flow.
The flame of a candle / lamp is very interesting to observe. If you look at it closely you will see different layers with its own colours depending on the intensity of heat. After a minute of intense gazing you can see all the elements clearly. And the flame dances. I find the dark zone looks like a Shiva Linga and that helps me fix my attention there more deeply. Focusing your attention on the flame shuts your mind off from other thoughts.
After doing this close your eyes for a while and sit quietly. You can now see the after-flame as a orange circle that is going deep inside the dark black hole like mind. Its a wonderful sight and you will enjoy it. Slowly this orange circle becomes a dot and then vanishes. Keep your eyes closed for a while and then start the whole process again of observing the flame.
The exercise can be repeated 2 to 3 times. It is advised that after performing Trataka you wash your eyes and face with cold water. The time period of Trataka from the beginning till the rolling down of tears differs from person to person.it also depends on the mental condition of the individual. The duration of one round of Trataka in normal individuals is generally 3 – 5 minutes and some people can extended the practice to longer periods.
Benefits of doing Trataka
If one does Trataka on a regular basis, it helps in curing all types of eye related problems. Most importantly it improves concentration.
According to Gherand Samhita a yogic text Trataka helps in training and guiding the nervous system. It also aids in reducing and curing all kinds of mental tensions.
It leads to a state of peacefulness and calmness. The sleep pattern is corrected within a small time with the practice of Trataka.
(You can get an adjustable Trataka candle stands or just keep the candle on top of a low level table with a vessel / books)
Meditation is a way of life, when you are chopping vegetables, listening to music, playing a solo sport or engrossed in any activity you are meditating. Solitude and peaceful surroundings especially in the midst of nature do aid in meditation, but your daily life environment is not a limiting factor. Just like every other activity try and do 30 Min of meditation every day at a fixed time.
Meditation is enjoying Solitude. Jean-Paul Sartre* is known to have said.
And Aldous Huxley** said ” the more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude“.
*Jean-Paul Sartre (born June 21, 1905, Paris, France—died April 15, 1980, Paris), French novelist, playwright, and exponent of Existentialism—a philosophy acclaiming the freedom of the individual human being. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964, but he declined it
**Aldous Huxley, English novelist and critic gifted with an acute and far-ranging intelligence whose works are notable for their wit and pessimistic satire.
There is a wonderful book written by my Master Sri M on Meditation. This book will help answer all your questions on Meditation. Its a must read for a seeker who wants to use Meditation as an effective path to progress.