Meditation is more a Will than an Act. Sitting quiet with eyes closed is not meditation. Meditation is a will of our Consciousness, seeking to replace outward-looking, wandering, restless mind with a deep awareness: calm, poised, immobile.
Meditation Alien to Mind
Mind Resists; It Must Be Conquered, Transformed
Meditation is not normal to mind. Mind resists meditation because meditation is against its habitual action of wandering around, wavering, scattered on objects, like a noisy market place where thoughts come in and go out, endlessly, without rest, without control. This is what mind cherishes and it seeks to perpetuate its hegemony over you, keeping you slaves to it, slaves of the noisy mind, fitful mind, monkey mind.
Meditation seeks to end mind’s mastery and make it instead a slave of the Will that longs to go deep, casting mind aside, to touch and connect Consciousness and then to live in it securely with the erratic mind completely mastered.
Nature Mind & Witness Mind
Two Minds in Us: Noisy & Calm
It is important for the beginners to understand one thing. Our mind is not what we think it is. There are two layers-one is in the front and the other, in the back. One is mobile while the other is immobile. One acts while the other is inactive, observing impassively.
One is the nature mind and the other is the witness mind. What we take for mind is the nature mind that is turning round in a cycle, never at rest. But through practice of meditation- self-study and self-observation-we will find another mind in us-the witness mind that is always calm, silent, steady, unmoved by what is happening in the nature mind. Like a disinterested witness, it lets thoughts come and pass in unending stream, but it never allows them disturb its immobile poise.
Separating these two minds, weakening the nature mind and strengthening the witness mind: this is what the aspirants for meditation should do if it suits them.
There is another method and it is to have mind fixed on a single object or thought or vision according to one’s bent, all other objects, thoughts, visions shut out of the mental space. This is what concentration is- dharana in Sanskrit. When the dharana becomes strong and stable, it gives way to dhyna or meditation which is a thoughtless state, a pure void, a deep blank to be filled with Divine Knowledge, Divine Consciousness, Divine Bliss.
Meditation Starts through Imagination
Elimination of the Unreal through Imagination
The great Indian monk Swami Vivekananda explained this point lucidly. He stressed that meditation advances through the process of imagination in the beginning: elimination by imagination and purification by will. You should imagine that you are essentially the Soul: One in All, Supreme Consciousness Universal and Transcendent, in All, yet beyond All. This is what is defined in Indian Spiritualism as Brahman beyond which there can be nothing.
If you imagine yourself as Brahman (for your soul is one with Brahman), it follows that you are neither body nor nervous system nor life force nor mind. And then you should discard these temporal things to reach your essence-the Soul, the Brahman, the final Spiritual Substance: unborn, not subjected to time, forever the same, the supreme Bliss of Existence.
Meditation Brings Bliss, Not Just Mental Rest
Lower Life Joys Incomparable to Meditative Bliss
The Bliss that you get through meditation is above mind. Our limited mind, shut up in ego and senses, can never experience it. The joy the mind experiences in the ordinary life is a pale reflection of the Ecstasy that meditation brings. The joy of lower life even when it is intense is ephemeral, short-lived, vulnerable, easily swamped over by its opposite –despair, despondency, gloom. But the Bliss, the Ecstasy you experience when you are truly meditative is secure and stable, for it is untainted by ego, by the happenings in the outer life. This Bliss is the Bliss of the Divine Consciousness: pure, unmixed, uncontaminated.
Three Centres for Concentration
Spiritualism a Flexible World
The yoga initiates may concentrate in any of the three centres according to their bent of nature. There is no hard and fast rule for all to strictly follow.
If you are by your nature inclined to Devotion, you should concentrate in the heart centre. The heart centre is where the soul dwells, covered by the thick layers of your lower nature. Through devotion-filled concentration, you will unveil the soul- your inmost being and once the soul is unveiled, it would purify your body, life and mind, making them fit instruments for the new yogic life you are aspiring for- the life fulfilled in the Divine fullness.
If you are inclined to the path of Knowledge, you may try the method of concentration above the head. Doing this, you may progressively attain liberation from your identification with body, life, mind. And then the Spiritual Consciousness and the Powers of the spiritual planes would begin descending into your consciousness, making your progress faster.
The last method is the concentration between the eyebrows. What happens is that from there the aspirant opens upwards and acts on the lower centres, transforming and opening them all to the higher Consciousness that trying to descend in him.
Importantly, you may try all these methods at different times as your aspiring nature wishes. The principal thing is to open your limited consciousness to the Spiritual Planes that lie stretched, layer after deeper layer, in the Universe.
Asana & Pranayama
From Outer Yoga to Inner Yoga
Asana and pranayama are great aids to concentration deepening into meditation. They are called outer yoga and when they are rightly combined, they smoothen the way to the inner yoga.
For static meditation, preparation is a must. You need to sit with back, neck and shoulder held upright and you must develop the capacity to sit in meditation for increasing duration of time.
There is no easy short cut. As per research done in this field, real concentration comes at least 40 minutes after you sit with your mind focused in sharp attention. This is not difficult as many assume. But you must be patient and persevering, determined to succeed undaunted by initial obstacles.
From Within Yourself & Universal Nature
It happens to some of the beginners, though not to all. What happens is that after one gets into the meditative state, one begins to experience after a few minutes of mental silence negative waves in the forms of thoughts and images rushing in to shatter the silence.
But these seem quite normal. These are bound to come. Some of these disturbances come from within while some come from the universal nature.
As said earlier, mind tends to resist meditation. Emotions and impulses, repressed, try to drag the mind back to its ordinary functioning, to the disorder, to the anarchy.
Besides, the universal nature with its disturbing vibrations seeks to enter you as before, perhaps with more force, as you try to meditate, to break the resistance.
What are the solutions? The great yogis advise that if this happens, you should not get panicky. You must be armed with the conviction that things would settle down in due course. You should remain calm and pray to the Divine and the Divine Grace would intervene and remove these obstacles.