Preparation for Meditation
Keep the head, neck and back in one straight line. Read the 11th and 13th Slokas of chapter VI of the Gita, wherein a description of the Asana is given. Spread a four-folded blanket and over this spread a piece of soft, white cloth. This will do nicely. If you can get a good tiger-skin or deer-skin, it is all the more better. A tiger-skin has got its own advantages. It generates electricity in the body quickly and does not allow leakage of electric current from the body. It is full of magnetism.
Face East or North. A spiritual neophyte should observe this rule. In facing North he is in communion with the Rishis of the Himalayas and he is mysteriously benefited by their currents.
How to Meditate
Habitual meditation and habitual silence are great assets for you in the spiritual path. Meditation gives a lot of spiritual strength, peace, new vigour and vitality. If a meditator gets irritated very often, it shows he is not having good, uninterrupted meditation. There is something wrong with his Sadhana and contemplation.
You will have to meditate with a calm mind. Then only you will enter into Samadhi quickly. If you control the Indriyas and if you become desireless you will have a calm mind. Keen longing for liberation and thoughts of God will destroy all desires. He who has a calm mind, is an Emperor or emperors, the Shah of Shahs. The state of one who has a calm mind is indescribable.
In meditation and concentration you will have to train the mind in a variety of ways. Then only the gross mind will become subtle (Sukshma).
Whatever you meditate on in silence should be manifested in daily life. You should keep up poise and harmony in action. You will be ever peaceful. Then only you will enjoy the real fruit of meditation.
Process of Meditation
Keeping the upper parts (the chest, neck and the head) erect and equal to the (other parts of the) body, subduing within the heart the senses together with the mind, let the wise by the raft of Brahman (OM) cross over all the fearful torrents of the world.
Keeping down the senses (Pranas), subduing his desires, and gently respiring through the nostrils, let the wise diligently attend to the mind, as the charioteer to a car, drawn by vicious horses.
When in the Yogi's body, composed of earth, water, light, air and ether, the fivefold qualities which mark concentration as described below are manifest, then there is no disease or age or pain for him, who has obtained the body burning with the fire of concentration.
When the body is light and without diseases, the mind without desire, when the colour is shining, the voice sweet and the smell pleasant, when the excrements are few, they say, the first degree of concentration is gained.
Just as you saturate the salt or sugar with the water you will have to saturate the mind with thoughts of God, with divine Glory, divine Presence, with sublime soul-awakening spiritual thoughts. Then only you will be established in the divine Consciousness always.
Five things are indispensable if you want to practise vigorous meditation and attain Samadhi or Self-realisation quickly. They are Mouna, light diet or a diet of milk and fruits, solitude with charming scenery, personal contact with a teacher and a cool place.
You will enter into deep meditation only if you lead a moral life. You may try further to build up discrimination and the other steps in your mind. You can cultivate the mind in concentration and can finally devote yourself to meditation. The more you lead the moral life, the more you meditate, the greater likelihood will then be for you to enter into Nirvikalpa Samadhi which can liberate you from the round of births and deaths and can confer on you Eternal Bliss and Immortality.
What does Lord Krishna teach by holding the flute in His hands? What is the symbolic philosophy of the flute? Flute is the symbol of Om. He says, "Empty your egoism. I will play on your body-flute. Let your will become one with My will. Take refuge in OM. You will enter into My being. Hear the inner soul-stirring music of the soul and rest in everlasting peace!"
Samadhi is possible by the practice of concentration and meditation with light diet. Meditate for 2 or 3 hours. If you get tired, take rest for half an hour. Take a cup of milk and then again sit for meditation. Repeat the process of meditation again and again. You can have a stroll in the verandah in the evening. Do not allow the mind to entertain any worldly thought even for a few minutes.
Just as the student creates interest in his study of mathematics or geometry, although it is disgusting in the beginning, by imagining the advantages that he will gain by passing the examination, so also you will have to create interest in meditation by thinking on the incalculable benefits that will be derived by its constant practice, viz., Immortality, Supreme Peace and Infinite Bliss.
When you have disinclination for work and a desire for meditation only, you can lead a life of complete seclusion, living on milk and fruits alone. You will have good spiritual progress. When there is inclination for work, when the meditative mood vanishes, take up work again. Thus by gradual practice the mind should be moulded.
Put a piece of iron in the blazing furnace. It becomes red like fire. Remove it. It loses its red colour. If you want to keep it always red, you must always keep it in fire. So also if you want to keep the mind charged with the fire of Brahmic Wisdom, you must keep it always in contact or touch with Brahmic fire of knowledge through constant and intense meditation. You must keep up an unceasing flow of the Brahmic consciousness. Then you will have the Sahaja Avastha (Natural State).
If you can meditate for half an hour, you will be able to engage yourself with peace and spiritual strength in the battle of life for one week through the force of this meditation. As you have to move with different minds of peculiar nature in your daily life, get the strength and peace from meditation. Then you will have no trouble and worry.
When you are a neophyte in meditation, start repeating some sublime Slokas or Stotras (hymns) for ten minutes as soon as you sit for meditation. This will elevate the mind. The mind can be easily withdrawn from the worldly objects. Then stop this kind of thinking also and fix the mind on one idea only by repeated and strenuous effort. Then Nishtha will ensue.
You must have a mental image of God or Brahman (concrete or abstract) before you begin to meditate. When you see the concrete figure of Lord Krishna with open eyes and meditate, it is the concrete form of meditation. When you reflect over the image of Lord Krishna by closing your eyes, it is also concrete form of meditation but it is more abstract. When you meditate on the infinite abstract light it is still more abstract meditation. The former two types belong to Saguna form of meditation, the latter to Nirguna form. Even in Nirguna meditation there is an abstract form in the beginning for fixing the mind. Later on this form vanishes and the meditation and the meditated become one. Meditation proceeds from the mind.
During meditation, note how long you can shut out all worldly thoughts. Watch the mind very carefully. If it is for twenty minutes try to increase the period to thirty or forty minutes and so on. Fill the mind with thoughts of God again and again.
When the mind becomes steady in meditation, the eye-balls also become steady. A Yogi whose mind is calm will have a steady eye. There will be no winking at all. The eyes will be red or pure white.
All actions whether internal or external can be done only when the mind is united with the organs. Thought is the real action. If you have control over the mind by steady practice, if you can regulate your emotions and moods, you will not do foolish and wrong actions. Meditation will help a lot in checking various emotions and impulses.
Concentrate and meditate on the expansive sky. This is also another kind of Nirguna meditation. By this method of meditation, the mind will stop thinking of finite forms. It will slowly begin to melt in the ocean of peace, as it is deprived of its contents, viz., the forms of various sorts. It will become subtler and subtler.
Some students like to concentrate with open eyes, while some with closed eyes, while some others with half open eyes. If you meditate with closed eyes, dust or foreign particles will not fill in your eyes. Some students prefer concentration with open eyes. Some who meditate with closed eyes are overpowered by sleep within a short time. If the eyes are open the mind wanders to objects in the beginners. Use your common-sense and adopt that which suits you best. Overcome other obstacles, day by day, under any circumstance.
You must be regular in your practice of meditation. Regularity in meditation is a great desideratum. Rapid progress and great success can be attained if regularity is observed by the practitioner. Even if you do not realise any tangible result in the practice, you must plod on in the practice with sincerity, earnestness, patience and perseverance. You will get success after some time. There is no doubt of this. Do not stop the practice even for a day, under any circumstance.
Fill the mind again and again with Sattvic and Divine thoughts. New grooves and avenues will be formed now. Just as a gramophone needle cuts a small groove in the plate, so also Sattvic thinking will cut new healthy grooves in the mind and brain. New Samskaras will be formed.
Prana is the overcoat for the mind. The vibration of the subtle psychic Prana gives rise to the formation of thought. By Pranayama you can improve your meditation by making the mind more steady.
If you keep lemon-juice or tamarind-juice in a golden cup, it is not spoiled or tainted. If you keep it in a brass or copper vessel, it is at once spoiled and rendered poisonous. Even so, if there are some Vishaya-Vrittis (sensual thoughts) in the pure mind of a person who practises constant meditation, they will not pollute the man and induce Vikara (passionate excitement). If there are sensual thoughts in persons with impure minds, they cause excitement in them when they come across sensual objects.
Asana (posture) steadies the body. Bandhas and Mudras make the body firm. Pranayama makes the body light. Nadi-Suddhi effects Samyavastha of the mind. Having acquired these qualifications you will have to fix the mind on Brahman. Then only meditation will go on steadily with happiness.
At 4 a.m. do Sirshasana for 5 minutes. Then take rest for five minutes. Then sit and meditate. You will have wonderful meditation.
Before doing meditation, do 20 mild Kumbhakas. Then sit for meditation. Pranayama drives away Tandri and Alasya (drowsiness and laziness) and makes the mind steady.
Live on milk and fruits only, for a week. You will have nice meditation. This diet makes you light and Sattvic. At night make it a point to take half a seer of milk only. You will have good meditation. You can overcome sleep quite easily. Heavy food at night brings on drowsiness quickly.
Those who meditate for four or five hours at one stretch can have Asanas either Padma and Vajra or Siddha and Vajra in the beginning. Sometimes the blood accumulates in the part of the legs or thighs and gives a little trouble. After two hours, change the Asana from Padma or Siddha Asana to Vajrasana or stretch the legs at full length. Lean against a wall or a pillow. Keep the spine erect. This is the most comfortable Asana. Join two chairs. Sit in one chair and stretch the legs on another chair. This is another contrivance.
This is one kind of meditation for beginners. Sit in Padmasana in a solitary room. Close your eyes. Meditate on the effulgence in the sun, splendour in the moon, glory in the stars, beauty in the sky!
Train the mind in a variety of ways in concentration in the beginning. Concentrate on the Anahata sounds of the heart by closing the ears. Concentrate on the breath with Soham repetition. Concentrate on any concrete image. Concentrate on the blue sky. Concentrate on the all-pervading light of the sun. Concentrate on the various Chakras of the body. Concentrate on the abstract ideas of Satyam, Jnanam, Anantam, Ekam, Nityam, etc. (Truth, Wisdom, Infinity, One Eternal Essence). Lastly stick to one thing only.
In meditation do not strain the eyes. Do not strain the brain. Do not struggle or wrestle with the mind. Relax. Gently allow the divine thoughts to flow. Steadily think of the Lakshya (point of meditation). Do not voluntarily and violently drive away intruding thoughts. Have sublime Sattvic thoughts.
If there is much strain in meditation reduce the number of hours for a few days. Do light meditation only. When you have regained the normal tone, again increase the period. Use your common-sense throughout the Sadhana. I always reiterate this point.