I have been practising meditation for 9 years. Since I started, I never recall missing a day. Meditation has become something automatic and instinctive; whatever is happening externally, meditation is a constant undercurrent in my life. During the past 9 years, these are some of the things I have learnt from meditating.
It is Easy To Meditate Badly.
It is easy to sit down in meditation and spend 30 minutes with pleasant thoughts going through your mind; but, this is not really meditation. Unless there is a conscious and deliberate effort to silence the mind, your meditation is of little benefit. There is nobody who is going to reward you just for sitting in a chair for a long time. What counts is our ability to silence the mind; this is the essence of meditation, no matter what path we follow.
Meditation is part personal effort – part grace.
In the beginning we feel meditation is all personal effort. But, when we meditate well, we paradoxically feel that we are not making any effort at all. It feels like there is something that is meditating on our behalf. This experience occurs because the soul comes to the fore. Good meditation doesn’t involve our mind; but, our inner being or soul. This is why there is a strange feeling of not actually doing anything.
Good Meditation Always wants to Share.
One of the most surprising features of meditation is that when you meditate well, there is an unmistakeable desire to inwardly share this consciousness with others. There is a feeling that the peace you experience, instinctively belongs to others. It is not possible to separate the meditative consciousness and keep it for yourself. Meditation expands our sense of awareness; it gives an unexpected sense of connection with other people. This is not a mere intellectual idea of oneness; but something that can only ever be felt and experienced.
If you have a powerful meditation there is a strong sense of gratitude; this is much more than our usual polite way of saying thank-you. It is a spontaneous feeling that our meditation is a gift which we can only feel gratitude for.
The Ego wants to Spoil Meditation.
It is quite common that good meditation becomes spoilt by the intervention of the ego. Our meditation may go very well, but then the ego starts to spoil it by creating a sense of spiritual pride. When we feel pride in our meditation, we know it has taken the wrong turn. To meditate well, we have to give up all idea and concept of displaying anything to other people. When we meditate well there is no desire for anyone to outwardly know. Meditation is something sacred that can only be shared inwardly. In the best meditation there is no sense of self; perhaps momentarily we forget about our sense of “i ness”. We feel that the meditation is impersonal, and just about consciousness.
The World Makes Sense.
It seems justice has never been born in the outer world, and perhaps never will. But, in meditation, there is a feeling that somehow everything makes sense and will work out. I cannot explain this or even attempt to justify it with words; but, that is definitely an experience of meditation.
There is Nothing To Learn.
I remember a couple of meditations where the only feeling was that I was merely remembering something I always had. The meditation did not give anything new, it was merely the recollection of something from a distant past. At the same time there was a feeling, why had this innocence and sense of being ever been lost?
There are many techniques for meditation; but the real secret of meditation is the inner cry, the aspiration to transcend the mental world. This inspiration can come in many forms, but it is far more powerful than any technique.
Meditation in Every Day Life.
The mind wants to criticise and feel a sense of separativity. Meditation encourages us to live in the heart and forget mistakes and criticism. I often feel a split personality in life. The mind is prone to depression and negativity; the heart just experiences, without negativity. Life is a constant choice between the two. Meditation encourages us to forget the pedantic criticisms of the mind and live in the heart. Once we have experienced real inner peace, we become more sensitive to cherishing the opposites of anger and frustration.
Music and Meditation.
The right kind of meditative music can definitely inspire our meditation. I am fortunate to have access to many excellent recordings of meditation music. The highest meditation is in absolute silence; but meditating to music can definitely inspire us.
In many spiritual books you will read about the seven main ‘chakras’ or energy centres. Through meditation these centres can be opened, at least partially; they can be felt as a real physical sensation. My meditation teacher, Sri Chinmoy, advises meditating on the spiritual heart or anahata chakra; this is in the centre of the chest, near the physical heart. In meditation we can feel the energy of the spiritual heart; there is an uplifting sensation of the energy spinning and revolving. It is an excellent thing to focus on during meditation.
Meditation and Sleep.
Meditation when you are sleepy doesn’t work. For meditation you have to be awake and alert. Meditation is a heightening of awareness; it is completely opposite to the relaxation of being unconscious.
Meditation Has No Fixed Goal.
After meditating for 10 years, I feel I have barely made it to the starting line. There have been good experiences, there have been times when meditation has proved difficult. But, there is also a feeling that I have only experienced a glimpse of the real consciousness of meditation. Reading the writings of saints and spiritual masters gives an insight into the nature of pure consciousness and encourages us to strive for more.
There is an Underlying Unity in Religious / Spiritual Experiences.
If we examine the scripture and religions of the world with our mind, we see many differences and conflict. But, meditation teaches us to place less emphasis on outer ritual and more on the inner life. Through the experience of meditation I have come to appreciate that different spiritual traditions lead to the same inner experiences. The meditation of a Christian saint offers the same consciousness as the meditation of a Sufi or Buddhist. The way we approach the goal doesn’t matter, ultimately we are aiming for the same goal, the same consciousness.
It is impossible to describe meditation because the experience far transcends the mind; no words can ever do it justice. But, through poetry and other writings we can get a glimpse an inkling of what lies within. If we have no experience with meditation, these words might not make much sense. But, if we meditate and discover our own inner reality we come to appreciate and value the offerings of the Saints and Spiritual Masters.
“No mind, no form, I only exist;
Now ceased all will and thought;
The final end of Nature’s dance,
I am it whom I have sought.”
- Excerpt from The Absolute, Sri Chinmoy
Other Meditation Links
Photo by: Unmesh Swanson, Sri Chinmoy Centre Galleries