Sunday, May 14, 2017

How to Meditate All Day

In the last blog article I “revealed” the two great secrets of meditation: 1) You have to WANT to meditate, and 2) In meditation you need to open up to a greater Consciousness than your own.

There is a third great secret to meditate deeply: meditate all day! Of course I don’t mean that literally. Instead we should live our active, daily life in the consciousness and awareness of the innate joy (or peace, love, calmness etc) born of sitting in deep meditation.

The great clinical sage of consciousness, Patanjali, author of the renowned Yoga Sutras, defines enlightenment as a process of remembering; of waking up (spiritually); of smriti. Anyone who attempts to remain spiritually mindful during daily activity knows full well how easily forgetfulness overcomes one's efforts like the instant darkness that swallows a room when the light is turned off. 

This, then, is the path to true meditation. Both sitting and actively practicing are needed: they are two sides of the same coin. Those who claim, “I talk to God all day,” and do so to, in effect, excuse their reluctance to sit pray and meditate in silence are of course fooling no one but themselves. Those who sit and meditate daily but make no effort to “meditate all day” simply get “nowhere fast.”

By contrast, those who feel the peace of meditation in every act of the day return home eager to sit and dive deep into the ocean of peace. This is foolproof. This is why this is the third great secret.

The ways to begin this practice are as numerous as the sands that contain the seas. You have to experiment and test the ways that you’ve been taught or which well up within you. Most of this practice is done in silence for the fact that you are likely to be among others at work, school, home and so on. There are times when you might be driving alone in your car or out on a break from work.

In general this “working meditation” is called “practicing the presence (of God).” In yogic sadhana terminology, it might be called japa: silently reciting the name(s) of God. Beyond this, the actual form of these techniques explode toward infinity. You can chant; use mantra; watch your breath; control your breath; “talk” to God, stretch into an asana, gaze devotionally at an image or picture, and on and on and on.

“Meditate on Aum” Patanjali advises; or, on anything that inspires you, he adds! Divine consciousness is ever-present, ever-self-aware, ever happy: it is manifested in a variety of ways but including as a continuous hum: music of the spheres. Thus it is unbroken. Thus it is our goal to achieve unbroken awareness of the indwelling Spirit.

The simple fact that we forget constantly during the day, or, the simple fact that amidst the fierce intensity of concentration upon your tasks with its concomitant stresses and tensions we lose our cell phone connection with the Aum or Amen, true and faithful witness of Spirit immanent in creation, is nothing to decry. Just return to it “as if nothing happened” for it was there all the time, just as gravity works whether we are aware of it or acknowledge its existence. [“As if nothing happened” is the instruction we give to students whose attention upon the breath flags even while sitting in meditation. This is not denial. It is an affirmation of the underlying reality that step by step we return to.]

This, then, is the third great secret of meditation.  “Yoga” means union. Patanjali describes both the process and the goal of life as the step by step and finally the permanent cessation of the mental and emotional reactions to thoughts, feelings and sensations. It is continuous and permanent. It is pure Being. This state is not devoid of feeling. Rather it puts us into the great Ocean of feeling: bliss. Bliss that is unconditioned by passing, fleeting waves of impressions and circumstances which have no permanence. Thus there should not be, other than by degree, any real difference between our “working” meditation and “sitting” meditation.

In this way, we meditate all the time. Both working and sitting meditations create a continuous meditation. Both are necessary to accomplish the ultimate goal of freeing our consciousness from identification with that which is unreal and achieving our soul’s final destiny.

Joy to you on the adventure of awakening!

Swami Hrimananda

P.S. The fourth great secret of meditation is the disciple-guru relationship. I may save this for some future article. Several past articles are already devoted to this vital aspect of spiritual awakening.