Thoughts are like corks.. the more you try to “drown” them, the higher they bounce back!
Meditation is a simple practice to start and very important to sustain as it has lifelong benefits. I was taught this technique of anapanasati meditation by my teacher, Dr.Newton’s teacher, Bhramarshri Patriji, who is the creative energy behind the Pyramid Valley in Bangalore, India, built with the core intention of teaching people meditation. This valley is called so because it houses the world’s largest pyramid for meditation. It has been my honor and privilege to have sat in this pyramid for days on an end and meditate for a minimum 6 hours at a stretch for many years.
Given below are the steps to meditate –
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- Sit in a relaxed environment with a temperature that is suited to you, preferably in a closed but airy space initially.
- Wear loose fitting clothes that are comfortable.
- Sit in the lotus position (padmaasan), with your hands clasped, fingers of both hands intertwined with each other, in a relaxed hold – not tight and not too loose.
- Sit with your back resting against a pillow/wall; it is necessary to support your back in the initial phase until your body gains the practice to sit with a straight spinal column. If you are a regular yoga practitioner, you may be able to manage without any support. (That was the intention behind practicing yoga in olden days so that one could sit effortlessly in meditation for a very long time. It wasn’t an isolated practice.)
- Lightly touch your tongue to your palate.
- Gently close your eyes.
- In case sitting down is not possible, you can sit on a chair/bed with legs crossed at the ankles (not knees).
Many pictures depict the gyaan mudra of the hands – i.e the index finger touching the thumb with hands rested on the knees on either sides. In my personal experience, I have tremendously benefited more from hands clasped, fingers intertwined with each other resting in your lap. While meditating your hands might naturally go into a mudra which is simply indicating in the change of energy flows (prana vayu) in the body.
- Have sufficient water before and after meditation – water acts like a battery fluid, the battery being obviously, your mind-body.
- Put on some good soft, meditation music on. I generally recommend the artist Deuter’s music – “Reiki Hands of Light” being my most favorite album.
- Observe your natural breath. Notice the thoughts that may naturally pop up. Allow them. Just watch them pass by, like clouds passing over head, and guide your attention gently back to your breath.
- You can initially focus on your nostrils where the air enters and leaves. For most of us, there is a natural point of focus, like the third eye center, or the heart, where your attention goes and rests when you bring it back to the breath.
- There may be judgmental thoughts, especially initially saying, “this is not working”. Watch them, and go back to your breath.
- A thought might trigger emotions, or you may suddenly find yourself feeling emotional. Recognize the emotion, acknowledge it, let it out (especially crying if it happens spontaneously) while keeping your eyes closed, and come back to your breath. For other emotions completely feel the layers of the emotion and watch the sensations in your body. Going further, you can watch the rise and fall of an emotion.
- There may be sensations like twitching, tingling, itching, intense pain, inadvertent shaking in the body. As much as you can, resist giving in to it. Instead visualise entering that part of the body, or just focus intently on that sensation. You may even go deeper and see the rising and falling, or beginning and end of that sensation. The intention behind this is to train the mind to see that every sensation is passing and to not identify with it.
- Start by doing this for atleast 40 minutes a day. Don’t keep a time limit though. It is important to start and follow it up continuously for 40 days. Why 40 days? Because it takes 40 days for the mind-body to make a strong connect to a pattern that you want to incorporate in your lifestyle.
- When you intuitively sense that your practice is done for the day, gently rub your palms together while keeping your eyes closed, put them over your eyes feeling the energy in your palms, thank your Masters and the Universe for guiding your meditation, send this energy to the Earth and its beings, and open your eyes slowly. Drink water. Take a walk if you can to ground yourself.
A few other pointers of this practice –
- You might feel you have fallen asleep during meditation i.e your body might just “slip out” and not be able to sit. Get yourself back up and sit with your spine straight. Do this repeatedly in case it happens again and again. This is not “sleep”. It is just a trance state wherein your mind, body and soul are restoring themselves and a deep healing is taking place that your mind and body are aware of, but the mind need not logically understand.
- Remember, focussing is different from concentration – concentration takes energy and effort, whereas focussing is effortless – it could simply be described as “gazing”, just as you gaze or focus on a beautiful photograph.
- When you meditate, you basically pull in volumes of energy within your body through your sahasrara chakra. This energy first travels into your spinal cord. Hence the importance of keeping your back straight.
- Because of this energy, you may get up from meditation feeling very energised, refreshed and/or neutral. This may cause loss of sleep for the next 2-3 hours and the mind may become more active and productive as a result.
- A successful meditation practice is NOT having controlled your thoughts. It is actually when you have been able to get back to watching your breath atleast once in the duration of your practice.
- You may or may not have (past life) visions, inner senses opening up, communication or meeting with the Masters, meeting higher/lower vibrational entities, spontaneous knowing or claircognizance, experiences of light and emptiness, intuitive guidance, astral travel happening during the meditation. These are secondary. The objective is really enhancing awareness, and dis-identification from these experiences. Post a successful meditation, you will find yourself becoming increasingly (sometimes glaringly) aware of your limiting beliefs and mind games.
- Often I recommend beginners to start meditation with a guided meditation track for relaxation, because it helps to bring awareness to the body. There are plenty of guided meditations available on the net. You can send me a mail for a free guided meditation track at email@example.com.
- Before beginning a meditation session, you may put intentions. After completely relaxing your body you may also ask a question and let go. The meditation process will guide you to the answer, either through the process, or clear your mind enough for the answer to be received in your conscious awareness. And yet it is okay if you can’t find any answers.
To conclude, do remember that when we meditate, we meditate for ourselves. It is to surrender yourself to the experience of being in your own intimate company.
- Buddha’s Meditation – An explanation of meditation by Osho
- Unity Breath Meditation – A guided meditation by Nithya Shanti based on Drunvalo Melchizedek’s recent work, centering oneself between Father Sky and Mother Earth
- Inner Infant Meditation – A guided track I have recorded to heal the inner infant within
- Technology of Spirituality – A brilliant video of AoL teacher Khurshid Batliwala explaining to teens why they should meditate. If you have any lack of motivation towards meditation, this video will take care of it.
- Science of Meditation
- Anapanasati Sutta by Gautama Buddha
I conduct weekly guided meditation sessions on different themes over Skype. If interested, write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org