Questions & Answers on Concentration
Q. On what can one concentrate?
A. Concentrate on a concrete form in the beginning, on the form of Lord Krishna with flute in hand or on the form of Lord Vishnu with conch, disc, mace and lotus in the four hands.
Q. One man told me to look constantly in a mirror on a point in the mid-space between the two eyebrows in the reflection of my face. Can I do so?
A. You can. This is one way of concentration. But stick to one method, to Rama's picture only. You can spiritually grow when you concentrate on His divine form and meditate on His qualities.
Q. Why people concentrate on Saligram?
A. It has got a power to induce concentration easily.
Q. I am concentrating on Trikuti, on OM figure and on sound. Am I right in my concentration?
A. You are right. Associate the idea of purity, Sat, Chit, Ananda, perfection, etc., with OM. Feel you are all-pervading consciousness. This kind of Bhava is necessary.
Q. What should I do to have deep concentration of mind?
A. Develop intense mental Vairagya. Increase the time of practice. Sit alone. Do not mix with undesirable persons. Observe Mouna for three hours. Take milk and fruits at night. You will have deep concentration of mind, I assure you.
Q. The disciple needs words of encouragement. Often he wants to be in touch with his Guru. That is why I disturb you always. May I enquire now how the power of concentration increases?
A. You can write to me often. Disturbance concerns the mind. There is always peace for one who lives in the Atman which transcends the mind. Disturbances, troubles and afflictions can hardly touch such a person who lives in the spirit. Concentration increases by curtailing your wants and desires, by observing Mouna (silence) for two hours daily, by remaining in seclusion in a quiet room for one or two hours daily, by practising Pranayama, by prayer, by increasing the number of sittings in meditation in the evening and at night, by Vichara, etc.
Q. Can Japa bring about concentration?
A. Yes. Do Manasika Japa.
Q. When I try to concentrate on the Trikuti, I get a slight headache. Is there any remedy?
A. Do not struggle with the mind. Do not make a violent effort when you concentrate. Relax all nerves, muscles and brain. Do gentle concentration in a natural manner. This will remove undue strain and consequent headache.
Q. The mind is still fickle in me and flesh is weak. Attempts at concentration are sometimes successful, but often end in disappointment. The purification of mind is not easy. What do you suggest?
A. Your Vairagya is not intense. Develop Vairagya. Do intense Sadhana. Increase the period of meditation to 4 hours. Reduce your Vyavahara (activity). Go for seclusion for 3 months either to Rishikesh or Uttarakasi. Observe Mouna for full three months. You will have wonderful concentration and meditation.
Q. Why does the Yogi who does the Sakti-Sanchara on his disciple ask him to give up all other kinds of Sadhana?
A. To develop intense faith, steadiness on the path and one-pointed or single-minded devotion in one form of Yoga.
Q. I am doing Japa for two hours daily and Pranayama for half an hour. Can I have Ekagrata and Tanmayata in 2 or 3 years?
A. Yes. You can, if you are pure and sincere in your Sadhana.
Q: What is Brahma-Muhurta?
A: 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. is termed as Brahma-Muhurta.
Q: Why is it eulogised by Rishis?
A: Because it is favourable for meditation on God or Brahman. Hence it is called Brahma-Muhurta.
Q: What are the advantages gained by Sadhakas by meditating at this particular hour?
A: At this particular hour the mind is very calm and serene. It is free from worldly thoughts, worries and anxieties. The mind is like a blank sheet of paper and comparatively free from worldly Samskaras. It can be very easily moulded at this time before worldly distractions enter the mind. Further the atmosphere also is charged with more Sattva at this particular time. There is no bustle and noise outside.
Q: Should I take bath before starting meditation?
A: If you are strong enough, if you are hale and hearty, if the weather and season can permit, if you are in the prime of youth, take a bath either in cold, lukewarm or hot water as desired. Otherwise, wash your hands, feet and face with cold water. Do Achamanam (sipping water with Mantra 'Om Achyutaya Namah, Om Anantaya Namah, Om Govindaya Namah.')
Q: How to take to meditation or concentrate the mind for Ekagrata?
A: First concentrate on the figure of Lord Hari with four hands for one year. Then take to abstract meditation, or meditation on an idea. You can meditate on these: "Om Ekam, Akhanda, Chidakasa, Sarva-Bhuta-Antaratma-one indivisible Atman, the Indweller of the creatures, all-pervading subtle consciousness like ether."
Q: My greatest difficulty is about concentration of the mind. The mind almost always runs away during my meditation. What is the remedy?
A: Strengthen your Vairagya and Abhyasa. Again and again you will have to bring the mind to the Lakshya. If you can make it run 50 times instead of 55 times, that is great achievement for you. Mouna (vow of silence) will help you a lot. In winter you have your sittings in meditation in the morning, afternoon, evening and at night.
Q: What can I do besides Pranayama to elevate the mind when it gets dull during meditation? May I use counter-suggestions?
A: Whenever the mind gets dull, assert: "I am Atman. I am full of knowledge. I am Jnana-Svarupa. I am Omnipotent-OM OM OM." The mind will be elevated and fixed in your meditation.
Q: A Yogi told me while meditating on God, that he could hear the sound of Sri Krishna's flute and the Sankha-Nada. Is it true? If so, how to hear it?
A: It is quite true. Concentrate upon Krishna's picture. You will hear those two kinds of sound. Close the ears with the two thumbs or a ball of yellow beeswax beaten with cotton and concentrate deeply on the sounds you hear from the right ear. You will hear those sounds. Practise this at night.
Q: I would pray to you to give me some more instructions, some methods of Dhyana and some hints for getting along the right path.
A: Visualise every part of Sri Krishna's body with His ornaments, silk Pitambara, flute, etc., with closed eyes. Keep the image steady. If the mind runs and if you cannot bring it back to the point, allow it to roam about for a while. It will settle down by itself after jumping hither and thither for some time.
Q: Why should we devote time for meditation? God is not desirous of our prayers.
A: The goal of life is Self-realisation or God-consciousness. All our miseries, birth, old age and death, can end only by realisation of God. Realisation can be had through meditation on God. There is no other way, my dear Rama. Therefore one should practise meditation. God prompts us to do prayers, Japa, etc., because He is the Preraka (He who inspires our minds).
Q: Can I get help from God during meditation?
A: Yes. The indwelling presence that shines in your heart is awaiting with outstretched hands to embrace the sincere devotee.
Q: Is it advisable to do meditation after meals at night? A Grihastha is so much disturbed in the evening that he scarcely gets time to meditate.
A: Meditation at night, a second sitting, is absolutely necessary. If you have sufficient time at night, you can meditate even for a few minutes, say 10 or 15, before going to bed. By so doing the spiritual Samskaras will increase. The spiritual Samskaras are valuable assets or priceless treasures for you. Further you will have no bad dreams at night. The Divine thoughts will be carried during sleep. The good impressions will be there.
Q: What is the difference between Japa and meditation?
A: Japa is the silent repetition of the Name of the Lord. Meditation is the constant flow of one idea of God. When you repeat 'Om Namo Narayanaya' it is Japa of Vishnu Mantra. When you think of conch, discus, mace and lotus-flower in the hands of Vishnu, His earrings, crown on His head, His yellow silk Pitambara, etc., it is meditation. When you think of the attributes of God such as Omniscience, Omnipotence, etc., it is also meditation.
Q: Give me practical instructions as to how to meditate.
A: Sit in Padma or Siddha Asana in a solitary room, keep the head, neck and trunk in one straight line. Close your eyes. Imagine that a big effulgent sun is shining in the chambers of your heart. Place the picture of Lord Vishnu in the centre of a lotus flower. Locate the picture now in the centre of the blazing sun. Repeat His Mantra "Om Namo Narayanaya" mentally and see His image in your heart mentally from foot to head, His weapons in the hands, etc. Shut off all other worldly ideas.
Q: When I meditate, my head becomes heavy. How to remove this?
A: Apply Amalaka oil to the head and take cold bath. Dash some cold water on the head before you sit for meditation. You will be all right. Do not wrestle with the mind.
Q: Is seclusion necessary?
A: Absolutely necessary. It is indispensable.
Q: How long should I remain in seclusion?
A: For full three years.
Q: Can you suggest me some solitary place for meditation?
A: Rishikesh, Haridwar, Nasik, Uttarkasi, Badrinarayan, Kankhal (near Haridwar), Brindavan, Mathura, Ayodhya, or Kashmir.
Q: How shall I prepare myself for contemplative life?
A: Divide your property between your sons. Keep something for yourself to keep the life going. Distribute a portion in charity. Build a Kutir in Rishikesh and live there. Do not write letters to your sons. Do not enter into plains. Then start meditation. Your mind will rest in peace now. Do this at once. You must hurry up.
Q: When I was living in Uttarkasi I had good Nishtha, exalted Vrittis and good Dharana. I have lost them now when I entered the plains even though I do Sadhana. Why? How to raise myself as before?
A: Contact with the worldly-minded people at once affects the mind. Vikshepa comes in. Mind imitates. Bad, luxurious habits are developed. Bad environments and bad associations play a tremendous part and produce bad influence in the mind of Sadhakas. Old Samskaras are revived. I will ask you to run at once to Uttarkasi back again. Do not delay even a single minute. As the mind is formed out of the subtlest part of the food, it gets attached to that man from whom it receives its food. Do not be under obligation to anybody. Lead an independent life. Rely on your own self.