Mastering the Techniques of Meditation
by Brother Ishtananda (Excerpts from a talk at 2008 Convocation )
AUM Technique (OM Technique)
This is the link to cosmic consciousness. It also interiorises the consciousness. One time when he was meditating Brother couldn’t hear the sounds during meditation. But later as he was working during the day the Aum sound would suddenly sound in his ear. He asked Br Anandamoy about this and he said “God is calling you inside to be with him” during this daily activities.
On Page 606 of God Talks with Arjuna there is another meditation technique:
Chant Aum at the centres up and down the spine (mental chanting only). Chant "Aum" at each chakra.
I visited Brother Dharmananda before he died. Brother Dharmananda’s body was not well yet he continued to lead his meditation groups. I felt sorry for him, for the pain he was in, but Brother Dharmananda said "I feel the Aum vibrating throughout my body as bliss in every cell". I didn't feel sorry for him after that! Brother Dharmananda said, "there can be pain and you can still be in joy".
— use increased awareness in the spine to concentrate on the chakras and awaken them.
— use the sense of the chakras and the currents to awaken chakras more and get concentrated in the higher centres.
— use the energy to get them lodged in the higher centres.
All the meditation techniques build on one another. But we don‘t have to practise every single one in every meditation if we don‘t have time on occasion. The important thing is how regularly and deeply we practice the techniques we do have.
Even though we are looking at the spiritual eye in all the techniques, the full concentration should be on the technique (i.e., listen to Aum or watch the breath). Don‘t divide the attention. Just keep the gaze on the spiritual eye and after the techniques are finished can then really concentrate there.
Do the best you can according to your body. “God credits your effort”. However, we do have to sit still. This takes discipline. Stillness helps the energy go inside. Resist scratching! You will get over it.
Best to meditate with the eyes slightly open. The eyelids will become still. If your eyes are fully closed you are more likely to go to sleep. Keep the attention on the spiritual horizon.
Get in the habit of breathing properly at all times, not just during meditation. Br did an exercise with us to asking us to put a hand on our stomach and the other on our chest - see which moved more when we breathed. The hand over the stomach should move the most if we are breathing properly using the diaphragm.
We need to make everything in our life serve our meditations.
This includes, diet, company, morals, sex life, exercise, work, etc. Moral laws are from spiritual laws. However, it is not enough to be a strict moralist. Guruji often used to remark that stones and goats don‘t break moral laws, but they also don‘t know God. Be aware of how we use our senses. Don‘t abuse them, for example, by overeating.
Follow an intuitive sense of their use. If we overuse them we stimulate the energy to go outward, which undermines our efforts in meditation. We need non-attachment and even-mindedness. This purifies the heart. Gandhi said, “When a man empties his heart, God occupies it”. Having strong likes and dislikes creates disappointments and elation. When our feeling is disturbed the mind gets engaged. Ideally we need “nonchalant participation” in life.
Attitude to meditation
We are often enthusiastic to begin with. However, over the years it wanes and practice becomes mechanical. There is no enthusiasm. Don‘t put God at a distance. Br Anandamoy stresses this is the greatest obstacle on the spiritual path - creating distance and not accepting the omnipresence of God and Guru. Have joyous anticipation, forgetting the results of the techniques. However, often in SRF we are so much trying to avoid focusing upon phenomena that we throw the baby out with the bath water.
It is OK to have intermediate goals, such as wanting to experience breathlessness or penetrate the spiritual eye or merge with Aum. Say you want it, expect it, demand it, and then surrender. If you get no experience at all in meditation say, “this is really cool, God came to me as nothing!”
Sit in stillness and practise with devotion. Stillness without devotion is sterile. Unite them and offer prayer. This is a personal thing how we do this. One of the monks practised this by visualising Guruji touching him at the spiritual eye after he has finished the techniques and is sitting in the stillness. He visualises an exchange of Divine magnetism. Then feels the love coming up from his heart. If he didn’t feel the love straight away he would say, “I love you Master, I love you Master” and it would come. When our devotion and stillness becomes deeper there will be no words.
Remind ourselves before every meditation that
the purpose is communion with God.
We have to ask ourselves what our priorities are.
A lady called at Hollywood Temple recently and said she was so busy in her days that she did not have time to meditate regularly or deeply. She described her morning saying that after she had done the chores, eaten breakfast, fed the cats, and watered the tomatoes she then had to run to work. Brother offered to buy some tomatoes for her each week so she could at least cut out watering them to find a bit of time. She said, “Oh, but the home grown ones taste so good!” So what do you want, home grown tomatoes or everlasting bliss consciousness?
These notes are not an official publication of SRF. They were taken by the devotees during talks given by the monks and nuns. Please be aware that there is a degree of human error involved in taking and transcribing notes.