Friday, May 12, 2017
There are many meditation techniques and styles: too numerous and tedious to attempt to name. But there are TWO SECRETS OF DEEP MEDITATION I'd like to share with you:
1. Hold your laughter so I can explain what I mean by the most important one: YOU HAVE TO WANT to meditate! Sounds silly, doesn't it? It's not at all silly. Paramhansa Yogananda, the yoga master and author of the worldwide renown spiritual classic, "Autobiography of a Yogi," put it this way: "The soul LOVES to meditate but the ego HATES to meditate. If you have made any serious and consistent effort to meditate at all in your life you know what I mean: internal resistance to meditation must be frequently—too frequently—combated even though our intentions are clear.
It’s not unlike so many other intentions: giving up smoking; eating healthy food, exercising. You want to do what is right but habit, temptation, restlessness, fear—all these and more take their toll on our resolve. Once you become clear “who’s talking” (devil or angel, so to speak), you can at least call the ‘ol buster out at high noon for a shoot out. You know, in other words, what you are dealing with. Forcing your will upon the subconscious mind is no real solution. It is INSPIRATION that rules the day. As “love makes the world go round” is really a euphemism for the reality that we are ruled by our desires, we can turn this undeniable aspect of our nature to good use if we affirm and draw upon the inspiration that got us to the cushion to begin with.
I mentioned in a prior blog article (the one before the previous one) the suggestion to bring to mind, before you meditate (or perhaps as you are struggling with resistance to meditation) the peace, joy, and inspiration you have already found so often from meditation. In addition, as you sit for meditation, pick up a book of inspirational reading with which to begin. Don’t just plop down and with the attitude of a conqueror, even a reluctant one, push your way through your routine! Chant to open the heart; use affirmations to awaken energy; pray for inspiration.
A friend wrote to me from Europe just the other day, bemoaning the growing fatigue and resistance he was experiencing from his otherwise highly disciplined and lengthy daily routine. No wonder! The subconscious mind will take exact its revenge if your efforts are too strongly tinged with sheer will power and not joy, inspiration or devotion! It was obvious reading his account what the problem was. And, the solution, too!
There are as many remedies are there are meditators. Some of the more obvious solutions range from shortening your meditation to making better use of chanting or other forms of inspiration (as mentioned above, spiritual reading), to varying one’s routines and techniques to fit the present need, and on and on. Going on retreat; renewing one’s vows; re-taking classes or reviewing the instructions; meditating, studying, or being with other meditators.
2. The other GREAT secret is related to the first GREAT secret: meditation can open us to a greater reality and consciousness. Paramhansa Yogananda perhaps coined the term SUPERCONSCIOUSNESS. Much of how meditation is taught, especially the more clinical forms (often called “mindfulness”), just puts us squarely in our own heads. There’s no devotion; no sense of God or other higher power (using various terms and images). We just sit there repeating our mantra; working with the breath; concentrating the mind; using creative visualizations but never really getting out of our own head (including our own thoughts and mental narratives and self-talk). Maybe we hope to extinguish the ego, or the thoughts, or sense impressions. Maybe we hope to “leave our body” or have astral experiences of light, sound or energy. But, like Mark Twain’s comment on how easy it is to give smoking: “I’ve done it a hundred times!” our meditation is nothing more than a head trip which you’ve done a hundred times but which doesn’t transform your life. A squirrel cage, in other words. Pleasant, perhaps, like daydreaming. And sure, maybe some creative thoughts appear or insights into our life and problems. But, really, honestly? Just “me and my arrow.” (A reference to the theme song of a 1971 cult classic cartoon movie.)
When we lift our eyes and gaze through the point-between-the-eyebrows, we can do so with the intention to receive; to listen; to offer ourselves wholly; to feel the presence of God, one of the Masters, a deity or the sacred image or name of our own liking. However you approach meditation, approach it with the sacredness of entering the “holy of holies.” Behind the curtain of the darkness seen behind closed eyes are another pair of eyes: an unseen ‘person,’ Being, Force, a Presence. It is loving, benign and has waited for you for an Eternity for no other reason than to lift you to a sphere at once blissful and wholly familiar as your own true Self. A place where joy and love and peace are without condition or requirement of merit nor tainted by error. It is omnipresent; omniscient; and unalloyed while ever-new bliss.
One of the greatest insights offered to the world by Yogananda was to state unequivocally that the "joy [peace, love, etc] of meditation" is proof of the living presence of God within you. No stranger; no cosmic dictator in far away space, ready to pounce upon you for the slightest of infractions. "The kingdom of heaven is within you," Jesus Christ said plainly.
Joy to you from Ananda,
Next article: “How to Meditate All Day!”