Friday, May 15, 2020

Essence of the teaching Gita

This is the essence of the teaching of this precious Gita, so often referred to by Sri Bhagavan: “The Self is one and whole, Self-awareness. This is the Divine (Brahman) the Indestructible, the Existent, Beginningless and Endless Many. There is nothing apart from the Self (atman), not anything else worthy of meditation. All that is manifest — the ‘I’, the ‘you’, the ‘he’, the Lord, and the all — all is the Divine. There is not even an atom apart from the Self that IS, the Single Unbroken Essence (akhanda eka rasa). Therefore the surety, ‘I am the Divine’ (aham Brahmasmi) is the endless True Knowledge. Know: ‘I am Being-Awareness-Bliss, of the nature of my own Self. I am without any differentiation of caste, clan, birth, and the like I am the Divine Absolute shining eternally in all splendour as the All, the Full, spotless, intelligent, ever unbound, true and still, beyond the body, senses, life-current, thought, intellect mind and ego-sense; unattached to the five sheaths (kosa), unaffected by the incidents of birth and death, void of a world that is lifeless and animate, you are That. This is experienced as ‘I am the Divine’ by negating through stainless enquiry the whole concept of individual, the world and beyond. 

“The maya of the world is not for you; you are the bliss of spotlessness, without either purpose or uncertainty. You are the purport of Vedanta. You are the indivisible form beyond the three clouds. You are yourself the One Self, without attributes or changes, which cannot be experienced by mind or speech. Here, there, this, that, I and he — all such thoughts convey is only mind; the elements and their compounds are only mind. The concepts of time, space, objects, the triads and their appearances, celestials and men, Hari and the Creator Brahma, the Guru and the disciple — all are mind alone.



“Here is the true form of worship: ‘I am the ocean of Bliss that is ever full!’ — this beatitude is the true bath in holy water (abhisheka) for the divinity of the Supreme Lord. ‘I am the unbounded Expanse!’ this beatitude is the offering of cloth to the Supreme Lord Siva. ‘I am the Self!’ — this beatitude is the real offering of ornaments to the Supreme Lord Siva. Discarding the thought-form leading to the qualities (gunas) — this is the offering of the boundless to Siva the Supreme Lord. The annihilation of all sense of difference between the Self, the Guru, and the Lord — that is the offering of bel-leaves to Siva, the Supreme Lord. Casting away the tendencies of the past (vasana) — this is the burning of incense to Paramasiva, the Supreme Lord. ‘I am the attributeless Paramasiva. the Supreme Lord!’ — this beatitude is the waving of Light (arati) before the Supreme Lord, Siva. Realising that the Divine and the Self are one — is the burning of fragrant gums before Siva, the Supreme Lord. That alone is the offering of flowers, in which one abides as the Self, the Supreme Bliss. That alone is the singing of the Name in harmony (namasankirtan), wherein one conceives himself as being without names and forms. 

“I am the Supreme Knowledge determined by the scriptures on spiritual wisdom (vedanta). I am the solid Bliss abiding as in the universal Great Silence. I am the single impartible Own Form (swarupa).


“Abidance in the Void is firmness; that itself is wisdom (jnana), liberation, Siva and the Alone (kaivalya). The forms of thought are impurity, creating time-space and the differentiation of the world and individual, very harmful. Mind takes the form of intention and uncertainty. The egoic self does not really exist; the Truth is ‘I am the Divine (ahambrahmasmi)’. Meditate on this, practise the wisdom yoga, destroy all sense of difference, be freed from the disease of mind, obtain the Stillness of the tangible experience, and come to realize the release from bondage. Abiding in the Self as ‘I am the Divine’ is the real ablution; the determination of the Self as the ever-realized Divine is the real heaven. 

“He is freed while alive (jivanmukta) who, motionless like the Hill, is still and immaculate, the Self in Itself, absolute Existence experienced as Bliss. Rid of individuality, rid of all concepts, he who is still, as pure Light, immaculate, peaceful solid Bliss, he who is free without a body (videhamukta). Knowing, feeling, thinking, praying, determining, mingling, abiding all these must be in the Self Itself. Meditate incessantly on ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ until it becomes permanent; later on, be freed from even this thought and be the Self Itself alone. 

“Seeing anything apart from the Divine is the cause of the sense of difference and so of fear. The thought-waves that rise in the mind are the cause of bondage. When there is no mind, there is neither world nor individual soul. The conquest of the mind is the greatest of all conquests. It is the Divine Himself who appears as world, individual and the beyond. So abidance as the Divine at all times and in all places will result in conquering the mind. Then will you come to realize ‘All Is the Divine; I am that Self;’ and you will attain the natural state.

“The view ‘That am I’ is the surest way to conquer the mind. ‘There is nothing apart from me; the three states, the five sheaths, the three qualities, the separate and the crowd (vyashti, samashti) — all these are not apart from me. All that is seen is the Seer. the Self; be at peace by the feeling ‘That am I’. Cast off the idea ‘I am the body’; be firm in the feeling ‘I am’... the Self. 

“The conclusions of the Four Vedas — Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva... are all the same: the ‘well-known Divine,’ the ‘I am the Divine’, the ‘That art thou’, and ‘I am the Self Creative Brahma, you are the Divine Knowledge’. He who teaches you thus is the real Guru. After obtaining this teaching (upadesa), throw off all other books and be firm in meditating on ‘I am the Divine.’ “Let the Pure Existence of the Divine alone be realized; if the sun of this Knowledge arises, how can the darkness of ignorance prevail? The mind of him who is certain that the Divine is one and whole cannot be shaken by the Great Illusion (maya) even if the vast Mount Meru be shaken by tying it to a thread. Practise ‘That am I’ (soham); the experience ‘I am Siva’ (Sivoham) will make you into Siva. Therefore sing ‘Sivoham, Sivoham, Sivoham!’”


Who Am I?

I am the Self (atman). I am Being-Consciousness. Being is my nature. I am the Self-aware Witness-Consciousness. I have no identity with the three states — waking, dream and sleep; they pass and re-pass in my presence. I am the Knower of Reality; I have my identity with the Divine. 

Being unattached to any fluctuations of the life-force and the mind, I have neither joys nor sorrows. These pertain to the states of waking and dream, which are the mental modes of the individual soul. In the waking state he is known as the [viswa]; in the dreaming state he is known as the radiant [taijasa]; in the sleeping state he is known as the wise [prajna]. I am the Knower of Reality. These three states are really non-existent, they function only as the result of the latent tendencies [vasana] of the mind; and even while they function and screen my real identity, I am the Self. 

I am the Present ever-present, so I am not newly discovered or obtained, only I have no delusion about myself. I am unborn (aja), so death cannot affect me. For me death does not mean the loss of a body, whether gross, subtle or causal. To me death means only identifying the self with the non-self. This is intoxication (pramada) and this intoxication is Death. So has Sri Maharshi taught. 

The discrimination which removes this intoxication (pramada) is Immortality. This Immortality is not obtained after prolonged penance and at some distant point of time. It is obtained here and now. As a result of this discrimination I steady myself to enquire who I am. After this enquiry, as instructed by the Benign Guru, I find the ‘I’ to be the real substratum, the Self ever aware. All this enquiry is only on the path, for the Final Goal is the supreme Wholeness, into which there is nothing to enquire. 

I am the Final Goal of the path. The Reality that I AM appears to be hidden by confusion and a veil. But by the Grace of the Guru, I being fixed firmly in my own reality, the veils have fallen away, both inside and out; so I am the One Indivisible, the Turiya (Fourth State). Yet though it be termed the “fourth” with reference to the changing three states, yet this “fourth” is the substratum and the primal state of Being. When this “fourth” is in contact with the Guru’s real nature, then is established Being, and then is the One Whole. 

I am the Heart (hrdaya), the one eternal ‘I-I’.

Six Verses in Praise of Sri Bhagavan

1. We adore that ‘Ramana’ whose totality is Awareness; who is the embodiment of all Knowledge; who has neither birth nor death; who is the prop of all existing life-force; who accepts service rendered by spiritual aspirants; with whom there is none to compare; to whom none is superior; who shines in our soul as Knowledge just as the Sun shines in the sky and on whom all the worlds depend for their existence; to Him we offer our obeisance. 

2. Those who worship the Graceful Feet of Sri Ramana Bhagavan, who is the incarnation of Lord Subrahmanya residing in Arunachalam, will be blessed with the virtues of mind-control and restraint of outgoing senses. He will thus be enabled to look upon pleasure and pain with equanimity; the restless mind getting one-pointed will bloom into Blissful sphurana (Awareness). 

3. He who meditates ever on Om Ramanaya Namaha is free from the fear of Death. When death approaches and the Self is veiled, meditation on the sacred syllable of ‘Ramana’ rescues us from death by putting an end to Death itself. 

4. Verily the Self in the Heart appears as the five elements, as the sun, moon and stars, as angels and different deities; as the vast space and as the origin and source of all this. Let us adore the Self as ‘Ramana’. 

5. ‘Ramana’, the Pure Self, whose Grace emanates from its seat — the Heart, whose Grace plays upon His serene face, and is directed through His most beautiful eyes, blessing all who turn to Him. 

6. Hearken! I shall tell you about the Golden Abode of Wisdom where the Omnipotent ‘Ramana’ resides. Without renouncing the internal and external attachments, it is impossible even for the keenest intellect to approach the Heart, where He shines alone, as Grace and where the Milk of Knowledge overflows. Come, let us abide there, drink the nectar of Grace and be Liberated!

Ajata-Vada

5. Q. What is the Ajata-vada? 

A. It is the doctrine of no birth. Nothing is or ever was born, nor does it decay or die. 

6. Q. Then what do we see happening before us? 

A. The seer and the seen are mere phantoms as in a dream vision. 

7. Q. But dream is bound up with sleep, while here we are awake. 

A. What is sleep except being unaware of your own being? Mental activity in such unawareness gives rise to confusing thoughts; thus comes the mistake of seeing what is not and missing what is. Similarly in the waking state; we miss the Self and see the world, which really is not. That which is not cannot be born or die; it seems to emerge from the Real Being, and also merge in It again. To become aware of this Real Being is the ultimate goal of the man who is ignorant of It but yearns to realise It. 

Ajata-vada fulfils this purpose, and it is based on the fundamentals laid down in the Upanishads and elaborated in the Karika of the Mandukyopanishad — which has been elaborately explained by Sri Sankaracharya.

Where is the Divine World?

“So you want to go to the Divine World?” asked He. 

“That is what I am trying to obtain; that is what the Scriptures prescribe,” I answered. 

“But where are you now?” the Master asked. 

I replied, “I am in Your presence.” 

“Poor thing! You are here and now in the Divine World, and you want to obtain it elsewhere! Know that to be the Divine World where one is firmly established in the Divine. Such a one is full (purna); he encompasses and transcends all that is manifest. He is the substratum of the screen on which the whole manifestation runs like the picture film. Whether moving pictures run or not, the screen is always there and is never affected by the action of the pictures. You are here and now in the Divine World. You are like a thirsty man wanting to drink, while he is all the time standing neck-deep in the Ganga. Give up all efforts and surrender. Let the ‘I’, that wants the Divine World die, and the Divine in you will be realised here and now. For, it is already in you as the Self, not different from the Divine (Brahman), nameless and formless. It is already in you, and how are you to obtain that which ever remains obtained? The Self (atman) in you is surely not different from US?” Thus spoke Bhagavan. 

“So, then, Bhagavan says that He is the Self (kutastha) in this, the field of this soul (jiva), that This is already established in Bhagavan as such, so this soul need do nothing but give up the sense of being a separate soul?” I asked, prostrating before Bhagavan. 

“Yes, yes,” He replied. “That is what one must do to drop the ego-sense. If that is done the Self will be experienced as ‘I-I’ here and now and at all times. There will be no going into the Divine World or coming out of it. You will be as you really are. 

This is the practice (sadhana) and this is perfection (siddhi) too.” This teaching of Sri Bhagavan, Himself being the Divine World, is recorded for the benefit of all who are ever in Him.
To be calm and know “I AM THAT I AM”, is really Bhagavan’s one work. The inmost core, the Heart, the Divine shining all alone as ‘I-I’, the Self-aware, is He. This centre simply IS; It is all Knowledge and all Bliss. It is from here that all begin to manifest, and in It all get lost. Being Itself That, It is all peace; no discord is there since the ‘I’ or ego does not arise and has no ‘he’ or ‘you’ to oppose. Being the ever-present and all-pervading, the Supreme ‘I’ is the Lord, Ramana who ever rejoices.

The Guru says, “Be still, and Know that I am God.” 

This knowing is the understanding of the absolute and relative values of Life. 

Understanding what? It is the distinctive knowledge (the vijnana) of the eternal unchanging Truth of your self. In the background of this eternal and unchanging Truth, the changeful and varying states of your doership move about and cloud your understanding of the Real Truth of your Being. 

To put this more clearly, in the words of Sri Bhagavan, “You are the Self (atman).” Now no one will deny he is the Self, the eternal changeless basis of himself. This Self is Pure Being, conscious of Itself. It is Pure Bliss, in the sense that in Itself it is not touched or affected by the pleasures and pains of your varying states. Know to fix yourself as this Self, and to abide as such, unmoved by the fluctuating feelings of pain and pleasure, which pass and re-pass before you, the unaffected Self. 

There must be no clouded vision of yourself. Whatever the nature of your doership and enjoyership, painful or pleasurable, you are always tranquil in the firmness of your real Being, as realised by the distinctive knowledge (vijnana) of yourself. This is the surest way to Peace, as taught by the Upanishads and by Bhagavan Sri Ramana. 

Now you have been told about the constant part of yourself, and you also have to be told about the variable quantity in you. It is the mind. This is responsible for all your moods and states of being, and their activities, painful and pleasurable. Its nature is to identify itself with the body and induce it to activities, leading to pleasure or pain. This is due to its rajasic (active) and tamasic nature (inert and dark). 

Through these qualities the mind not only identifies itself with the gross body, but it also veils and hides the constant part of yourself, the atman (real Self). 

But there is also a saving grace about the mind. Apart from its rajasic and tamasic nature, there is in it a sattvic aspect (calm, harmonious). The wise try ever to enhance this sattvic aspect through all activities dedicated to God. You can learn how to improve this aspect of the mind through study of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita. This sattvic aspect should be so developed as to first control the rajasic and tamasic qualities (gunas), and later to annihilate them, so that the sattvic quality comes to be 100 per cent of the mind. In this state the mind can be used as an instrument to get understanding (vijnana) of the constant quantum of your Being — the Sat-chit-anandam, or Being-Consciousness-Bliss. 

This understanding can be had by separating the mind from the gross body, to which it has been so long outwardly projecting, and taking it inwards towards the Self, your constant Being. When the mind is so trained as to be more and more in contact with the Self, then there arises perfect understanding and abidance in the Real. 

You are really free in yourself; the clouds do not really affect you. Yet you are also outwardly active, according to the latencies of the past karma in you, which work out according to the law of that karma. The potter has given up his hold on the wheel; yes, but the wheel still moves on owing to the momentum still left in it. 

In the same way you move, and yet you are unaffected, no longer clinging to the action. You do; yet you feel you are no more the doer. You enjoy or suffer; yet you feel you are no more the one who suffers or enjoys. You are a mere witness of all things in your varying states: waking, dreaming and sleeping. You are you, or I am I, or the Self is the Self; and these states pass and re-pass. This is the state of real knowledge (jnana) or real devotion (bhakti). This is the message of the Gita. This is equally the message of our benign Guru, Sri Ramana Maharshi.


On being graciously ordered to do so, I said that all His teachings amounted to this — that He alone IS, and everything else only seems to be but really is not. 

Sri Bhagavan smiled and, saying, “Yes, yes, yes!” left it there.

 I quoted from His teachings: “The fourth state (turiya) alone is; the appearances of the three states are naught.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

On the return walk, we happened to pass the sluice at the centre of the bund. 

Pointing to this, Bhagavan remarked: “Look at this small outlet, as compared with the big one at the end! But for this small hole, through which the stream of water trickles, the vast contents of the lake would not be helpful to vegetation. If the bund breaks it will be a regular deluge, and the entire crop will be destroyed. Only if the water be served under proper regulation through this sluice, are the plants helped to grow.

So too is it with the Divine Consciousness. Unless the bliss of this Consciousness is gifted through the Grace of the Guru in controlled outlets, the soul cannot be helped to the destruction of its tendencies of the past; for in this way the Self, abiding as such in its oneness with the Divine, is established in the Guru’s State of Being. Holding on to its Being Consciousness, the work of destroying the past (vasana) proceeds as and when thoughts arise to push the mind into action. This work becomes possible only in the proximity of the Guru. Hence the Guru is himself like the sluice and irrigates souls with Grace from his ocean of kindness, needed so that the Self may abide and the old tendencies be withered away. But if the bund is broken, the full force of the whole lake rushes through and sweeps everything before it. This resembles a practitioner (sadhaka) receiving the full force of Divine Consciousness without the intervening and mitigating grace of Guru’s sluice; he dies without the benefit of having the tendencies destroyed.”

Now the Master speaks: 

“People think the Master is confined in a human frame, but it is not so; His existence and presence are universal, cosmic, because He is the True Guru (sad-guru) and Truth (sat) as such is not a newly discoverable entity. He has always been there with you even while you were undergoing all the pangs of existence. In fact, I am the ‘I’ in you; you and I have never been apart, nor ever can be. But you, with your separate ‘I’ and its exclusive and warring interests, could not know Me, much less feel Me. Now that that ‘I’ in you has dropped away, I alone live in you.” This is the meaning of Tattvamasi (“That thou art”), and this is the meaning and the function of the Guru’s Grace.
Once I wrote two verses in Tamil, one in praise of the Lord without attributes, the other of the Lord with numberless forms. 

In the latter I wrote: 
“From whom grace is flowing over the sentient and insentient.” 

Bhagavan asked me to change one letter and this altered the meaning to: 
“who directs his grace to the sentient and the insentient.” 

The idea was that grace was not a mere influence but could be directed with a purpose where it was needed most.

IN 1908, when I was 12 years old, Bhagavan was still in Virupaksha Cave. My cousin, Krishnamurthy, used to go to Bhagavan every day and sing songs of devotion and worship before him. One day I asked him where he went daily. He told me: “The Lord of the Hill Himself is sitting there in human form. Why don’t you come with me?” I too climbed the hill and found Bhagavan sitting on a stone slab, with about ten devotees around him. Each would sing a song. 

Bhagavan turned to me and asked, “Well, won’t you sing a song?” 

One of Sundaramurthy’s songs came to my mind and I sang it. It’s meaning was: “No other support I have except Thy Holy Feet. By holding on to them, I shall win your grace. Great men sing your praise, Oh Lord. Grant that my tongue may repeat Thy Name even when my mind strays.” 

“Yes, that is what must be done,” said Bhagavan, and I took it to be his teaching for me.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Seven Yogic Practices - Tyaga - Letting Go

We all have our attachments and they are the root cause of most of our disappointments. We may like to believe that we remain unaffected or that our love is pure, devoid of attachments to people or things. The truth is, your degree of detachment can only be ascertained once you are removed from the object of your attachment. 

There is a specific yogic practice to help you in cultivating the art of letting go. 

The word is tyāga in Sanskrit. It means to let go, to give up, to renounce, to detach, to set (yourself) free from the attachment to the object. The practice of tyaga is a powerful one and the effect is profound. It is capable of igniting a radical transformation in you.

How to Do It Right

The practice of letting go starts with identifying what you love the most and then picking one to begin with, deciding to let go for a certain period. It can be one week, a month, one year or any other duration you decide. 

Please see the chart below: 

Practising to Let Go



The complete practice of tyaga means abandoning consumption, desire, contemplation and thoughts of the object of attachment.

When you let go, you gain freedom. It further leads to a state of independence, peace and fulfilment. Ultimately, if you can let go of everything that gives you grief, every agonizing emotion, every discursive thought, you can well imagine your blissful state. 

When you learn to let go, you are effectively learning to let yourself go free.

Seven Yogic Practices - Ekanta - Solitude

Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita, 

Ātmanayēvātmanatuṣṭaḥstithprajñastaducaytē 
The one who dwells within and is contented within is indeed a yogi. The seeker who has turned inward finds greatest bliss in solitude. In such a state, he can uninterruptedly enjoy the bliss within. 
If you are in solitude and have engaged your mind in reading, writing or other similar activities, that is still solitude. It is not the finest type though, it is more like pseudo solitude. The ultimate solitude is when you are aware of each passing moment, you are not dull and you are not sleepy, you are awake and alert, and, at that, you do not feel restless; you do not feel the urge to always do “something”. You are at peace within. When you are face-to- face with your own mind, sharply looking at it directly, you are in solitude. A yogi who has mastered the art of living in solitude, without fail, will always be in solitude even amidst the greatest crowd. His quietude remains unaffected by the noise outside. His inner world stays insulated from the outer one.

How to Do It Right 

The practice of solitude, naturally, incorporates the practice of observing silence as well. You can start your stint of solitude, by opting for short periods first with a minimum stretch of 24 hours.

Please see the chart below. 

Practising Solitude



Seven Yogic Practices - Mauna - Silence

We all have our attachments and they are the root cause of most of our disappointments. We may like to believe that we remain unaffected or that our love is pure, devoid of attachments to people or things. The truth is, your degree of detachment can only be ascertained once you are removed from the object of your attachment. 

There is a specific yogic practice to help you in cultivating the art of letting go. 

The word is tyāga in Sanskrit. It means to let go, to give up, to renounce, to detach, to set (yourself) free from the attachment to the object. The practice of tyaga is a powerful one and the effect is profound. It is capable of igniting a radical transformation in you.

How to Do It Right

The practice of letting go starts with identifying what you love the most and then picking one to begin with, deciding to let go for a certain period. It can be one week, a month, one year or any other duration you decide. 

Please see the chart below: 

Practising to Let Go



The complete practice of tyaga means abandoning consumption, desire, contemplation and thoughts of the object of attachment.

When you let go, you gain freedom. It further leads to a state of independence, peace and fulfilment. Ultimately, if you can let go of everything that gives you grief, every agonizing emotion, every discursive thought, you can well imagine your blissful state. 

When you learn to let go, you are effectively learning to let yourself go free.

Seven Yogic Practices - Sankalpa - Resolve

The singular most important, by far the most significant quality that a meditator must have is willpower, the resolve to not give up in the face of challenges. Irrespective of what path you are on, your determination to persist and persevere, your resolve to tread the path, determines the outcome.

How to Do It Right 

The only mantra for successfully keeping the practice of sankalpa is to not give up, no matter what. 

Let us assume you vow to sit still for 30 minutes every day for the next 40 days. You decide to sit still like a rock in the same posture for those 30 minutes no matter what. For that half hour, with great will power and determination, you are going to build your concentration with great mindfulness. You are going to make every attempt to remember that during the hour of your practice, each time your mind wanders off, you will gently bring it back to your object of focus. 

A certain degree of determination is required to do the aforesaid. As you progress with resolve, you will find your conditioned mind becoming feeble. You will experience an inexplicable inner strength. Such new found strength will enable you to reach sahaja, an emergent natural state of bliss ultimately.

During your period of sankalpa, if you miss your practice even once, it is a hundred percent breach of practice and requires restarting. As part of the practice, you can resolve to do anything at all. Sitting still is merely one example.

Seven Yogic Practices - Shravana - Listening

The Sanskrit term is sravana. It means to listen. The practice of listening is a simple and powerful way to build your concentration. The one who practices the art of listening undergoes a rapid transformation in their ability to remain concentrated. 

Listening requires that you be alert and attentive in the present moment.

A man approached Buddha once and said, “I want to become wise. Please tell me how do I operate better in the world? What do I do to not mess my relationships?” 

Buddha spoke, “It is very simple. You only have to be mindful of two things – listen attentively to others when they are talking and even more attentively to yourself when you are talking.”

How to Do It Right 

  • Put on your favorite song, at home, while driving, jogging, anywhere. 
  • Promise yourself that you’ll pay full attention to the song. 
  • Listen to the song with complete mindfulness and alertness. 

This is the art of active listening. This is the practice in a nutshell.

Seven Yogic Practices - Trataka - Still Gazing

An unfailing sign of a true yogi is stillness of the gaze. Even some advanced meditators struggle to keep their eyeballs still (even when their eyes are closed). Stillness of the gaze has a remarkable effect on the energy flow in your body. 

There is a specific yogic practice to perfect your gaze. The method of fixing your gaze on an object is called trāṭaka

Movement in the eyes, flickering of the eyelids represent a subtle flaw in your posture as well as meditation. Practice of trataka is the best practice to eliminate this flaw. Like all other yogic practices, do it every day for at least 40 days to benefit from it. 

How to Do It Right 


  • Assume the standard yogic posture for meditation, preferably cross-legged. 
  • Light a candle, at a distance of about three feet, in front of you. You can also keep any other object than a candle if you prefer. 
  • Ensure the candle or any other object of focus is at your eye-level. 
  • Watch it unblinking for a minimum of seven minutes. You can gradually increase the duration.
  • During the actual practice, try to be aware of your wandering thoughts and gently bring your mind back to the object. 


Please see the chart below: 

Practicing Still Gazing




The right practice of trataka helps one still the mind and calm it down. It acts as a catalyst in building one-pointed concentration with better memory retention and recall.

The right practice of trataka helps one still the mind and calm it down. It acts as a catalyst in building one-pointed concentration with better memory retention and recall. However, these are not the only benefits. As stated earlier in this book, your body is run by ten different energies, five primary and five secondary. The five secondary ones are called naga, kurma, krkara, devadatta and dhananjaya; they are responsible for belching, sneezing, blinking, yawning and twitching respectively.

The practice of trataka stills the five secondary energies giving you control over the aforesaid involuntary functions of the body. Such control is necessary for the advanced seeker who wishes to enjoy uninterrupted tranquil equipoise. During meditation, if any of the above five occurs, an awareness of the body emerges instantly, abruptly breaking the state of oneness.

Seven Yogic Practices - Ekagrata

Ekagrata - Concentration

The term is ēkāgratā, single-mindedness, for concentration. If I split this word for better understanding, it is comprised of ek, one, and agra, proceed. It means to proceed with oneness, with focus, with synchronicity, in a channelized fashion.

Do not hold long sessions of concentration initially. Instead, hold sharp, short, crisp and lucid sessions of no more than ten minutes each. You can gradually increase the duration. Sitting still for an hour while your mind is wandering off all the time will not bring results as quickly as you holding your posture and lucidity for ten minutes but practising rigorous concentration with utmost alertness.

How to Do It Right

It's best to sit in the standard yogic posture, with your legs crossed preferably. 

The practice of concentration is almost identical to the practice of concentrative meditation with only one fundamental difference. When you practice concentrative meditation, you allow yourself to slip into a state of ascending consciousness. While doing the yogic practice of concentration, however, the sole focus is to improve the duration and quality of your concentration (which you can then use to enjoy better meditation). 

The other important thing is that in concentrative meditation, you are allowed to take a break every now and then to rejuvenate yourself. You could meditate for five days in a row and then take a break over the weekend. In the yogic practice of concentration, absolutely no break is allowed. It must be done every single day without fail for at least 40 days in a row. 

The chart below shows the important elements of this practice and their impact on the quality of your concentration.



Meditation is your performance on field where as a yogic practice is your trial runs off-field. Concentrative meditation is what you do flawlessly after you have corrected your mistakes in the practice of concentration.

Virtues of a Good Meditator

Compassion

When you choose compassion over any other choice, you naturally elevate your consciousness. When you sit down to meditate, after a random act of kindness or a show of compassion, you will discover that your mind is naturally quieter than usual. It starts to gravitate towards its natural state. This peace is already present in your heart like fragrance in rose.

Truthfulness

Between truth and compassion, I personally choose compassion. That is not to say that I would tell a lie but I would rather hurt myself than hurt the other person. Putting the other person before yourself, that's what compassion is. Truth on the other hand is putting your principle before the other person. Sometimes that is more important.

Once, Prince Abhaya asked Buddha if he ever spoke harsh and disagreeable words. At first, Buddha said there was no categorical yes or no answer. However, when pressed by Abhaya, the Venerable One, referring to himself in third person as Tathagata (the one gone beyond) spoke: 


  • In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be un-factual, untrue, unbeneficial (or: not connected with the goal), un-endearing and disagreeable to others, he does not say them. 
  • In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, un-endearing and disagreeable to others, he does not say them. 
  • In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but un-endearing and disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.
  • In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be un- factual, untrue, unbeneficial, but endearing and agreeable to others, he does not say them. 
  • In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, but endearing and agreeable to others, he does not say them. 
  • In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, and endearing and agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. 

Why is that? Because the Tathagata has compassion for living beings.39 It’s hard to find a better and clearer teaching on truth. If our words are true, factual, beneficial but not endearing or agreeable, we should think a million times before stating such truth as it’s unlikely to accomplish anything at all. It’ll hurt the other person and won’t benefit them in any way.

Next only to compassion, truth is the most potent quality of a true saint, a noble human being. Next time you are tempted to tell a lie, just pause for a moment, reflect on it and choose your words carefully. It’ll go a long way in ensuring that your speech, thoughts and actions are in harmony.

Gratitude

Being Grateful to God 

Some people are grateful to God, to the Supreme Soul, to someone they feel is up there. It can give them a huge psychological boost, help them survive difficult phases in life, give them the motivation to stay course among numerous other benefits. Those who believe in the existence of God, regardless of the religion they follow, have someone they can be grateful to. Even daily prayer is a form of gratitude. Being grateful to God is not complete gratitude, though. Imagine being thankful to the mother who is never careless, indifferent or irresponsible towards her children. It is of little use. Far more important than being grateful to God is to be grateful to his children, his creation. This leads to the gratitude of the second type. 

Being Grateful to Others 

Love and gratitude are soulmates; happiness and harmony are their offspring. It is not possible to be grateful unless you accept that someone has done something for you. If you feel, out of ego or ignorance, that it was your right, you will fail to feel grateful. Consequently, you will not experience any happiness, much less peace and bliss. Any relationship with gratitude present in it is bound to flourish. Gratitude is not always about grand gestures, it may range from a sincere thank you to an act of extraordinary compassion. The important thing to remember is that you must consciously express your gratitude without any expectations for reciprocation; it is hard but doable. True gratitude makes one generous, compassionate and infinitely loving. 

Practice of gratitude lends incredible emotional strength. If you are emotionally strong, you can succeed at anything, anything at all. Gratitude makes you emotionally pure and such purity in turn allows you to love unconditionally.

Empathy

But empathy is about just being there. It is the art of easing the pain of the other person by just being there for them in the most non-judgmental manner. Empathy is about being a good listener.

Nature has bestowed upon us an extraordinary emotion, empathy. It is the seed of compassion. Simply put, empathy is a genuine effort to see the world from the perspective of the other person. It is to step into their shoes to see where exactly it hurts. Empathy requires that we empty our mind and listen to the other person with our whole being. No understanding is possible unless we take in all that the other person is trying to tell us.

You don’t have to feel a certain way to act a certain way. The reverse is more practical and effective; start acting a certain way and you’ll start feeling that way. Empathy is an act before it becomes an emotion. It is, however, not possible to develop a sense of empathy without being sensitive towards others around us. In fact, it's hard to practice any virtue without having a degree of sensitivity.

A good meditator is always mindful of his thoughts, actions and words. One of the most beautiful rewards of meditation is that it makes you more sensitive. It’s a natural by-product.

Sensitivity is knowing the difference between being emphatic and being empathic. As they say, resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in your life, you will have been all of these.

Humility

As you begin to shed your ego, you become humble naturally. A humble mind is a beautiful mind. It's far more receptive to spiritual growth and attainment than an egoist mind, no matter how learned.

Faith

Faith is designed to give you the confidence, the courage to lead your life with grace and conviction. It doesn’t mean we can just confess and be done with our bad karma, rather, we should have the strength to do the right karma at the first place.

Faith is the understanding that not everything is in my control. I'll do everything in my reach to do whatever I can about things that are in my control and leave the rest in the hands of this vast universe. 

As Reinhold Niebuhr wrote in The Serenity Prayer. 
God, grant me the serenity to
accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Meditation Practice: Spirited Meditation

When you use any form of music to enter into a meditative state, it’s called bhava samadhi, a tranquility of the purest sentiment devoid of any negativity.

Spirited meditation is not about losing your consciousness and falling flat on the floor in a daze, in ecstasy. Instead, it is about rising above your body consciousness, it is about providing an outlet to your physical energies resulting in a complete and total harmony of your body and mind.

How to Do It Right

In order to do spirited meditation correctly, you will need a piece of music, any genre, that starts out slow, builds to a crescendo and then flows gently, slowly like a river murmuring in autumn. You can take three different pieces of music and combine them, make a playlist of your choice, or simply pick anything that fulfills the criteria above and play it. There are four primary stages roughly spanning 10-15 minutes each. 

The build-up stage: In this stage, the music is playing slowly and you build up the energy by being aware of your breath and your movements. You can recall past incidents, negative emotions, or joyous moments, anything you like during the first stage. 

The release stage: The second stage is about dancing hard and wild (without hurting yourself or others if you are in a group) so you may release the built-up of stored energy. 

The let-go stage: Once you gently sway to the slow music and you completely let go off all that you've just released. You forgive, you surrender, you let go. With each gentle movement, with each sway, you experience the lightness of being, slowly aligning yourself with your energies. You remain in that state even after the meditation has ended. One of the important things in the third stage is to play a different music than the first stage even though both are slow-tempo pieces of music. In the first stage you are aware of your breathing, your thoughts and emotions. In this stage, however, you are just being present in the present moment. You are just enjoying ‘being’. 

The rest stage: In the fourth stage, lie down on the floor in shava-asana, the corpse pose to internalize what all you have just done, experienced and assimilated. There’s no music in the fourth stage. You just listen to your own breathing – inhalation, exhalation, inhalation, exhalation. 

Follow the steps below to begin the spirited meditation: 

  • Loosen your body by gently shaking your limbs. 
  • Breathe deep a few times to normalize your breath. 
  • Turn on the music and start dancing to its rhythm. 
  • Start by gently swinging and swaying to the music. This is the first stage. Pay attention to your breath. You may not be able to hear your breath since there’s music playing in the background, and that’s fine. Just be aware of your inhalation and exhalation as you dance to the slow rhythm. 
  • In stage two, as the music builds up, follow your heart’s voice (or your body’s movements) and simply just dance. Dance away all that’s stored in you and causing you any grief at all. Release the energy inside you. 
  • Slow down again to a different piece of music in the third stage. Just flow. Follow the six principles of meditation. You are just dancing and flowing with the melody, rhythm and notes of your music. 
  • When the music stops, in the fourth stage, simply lie down on your back. Just rest and watch your breath and it’ll harmonize your energies. 


Spirited meditation is a wonderful way of releasing the pent up energy and even excess calories in the most meditative way possible. It is a great way of introducing meditation to youngsters. Even as adults, some days when you feel restless or too full of energy, when you just can't sit down and meditate, you could do this meditation instead. A wave of joy will wash over you making you feel light both physically and mentally.

Meditation Practice: Observant Meditation

In line with the six principles of meditation (no recollection, calculation, imagination, examination, construction and digression), observant meditation is about watching your thoughts in the most dispassionate manner possible.

This meditation is also called witness meditation for you are simply playing the role of a witness while you meditate. The soul of this meditation is to simply watch your thoughts as if you are watching a movie on a screen, as if whatever comes to your mind is not something that happened to you but to a third person. You realize that when an actor dies on screen, he or she isn’t truly dead. In the same manner, you realise that all thoughts are empty, they are devoid of any true essence, and that you don’t have to react to those thoughts.

This is the underlying principle of being a witness while operating in this world that can be very difficult at times: watch yourself and that is it.

How to Do It Right 


  • Sit in any comfortable posture. The standard posture of meditation is even more useful as channelizing the energies while your mind is empty is extremely helpful in swiftly moving towards a state of complete tranquility of the mind. 
  • Take a few deep breaths. 
  • Remind yourself that you are simply playing the role of an observer, a passive spectator who doesn’t cheer or jeer. 
  • You can close your eyes and wait for your thoughts to emerge, or you can open your eyes and fix your gaze at any object, close or distant. 
  • Simply watch your thoughts as they come. 

Now wait for the thoughts to come and knock on the door of your consciousness. The first thing you’ll notice is that that the flow of thoughts is immediately checked when you sit there anticipating their arrival. If you maintain the lucidity of your passivity (which means, be a good witness), you will be able to observe your thoughts lot more clearly. 

Let any thought come, of any nature, just don’t entertain it. Just let it come and let it go, repeatedly. Don’t analyze them, don’t pursue them, don’t reject them – just don’t react. They are like billboards and banners you see on the road while you are driving, just don’t pay attention as they are not important to your journey. 

Intrinsically, these thoughts are immaterial and barren. One by one they will come incessantly, let them. When you no longer react to your thoughts with this meditation, a strange thing starts to happen. The gap between one thought and the next increases. That gap is a type of quietude, a variety of mental stillness that’s priceless. Immerse in it by being aware of such quietude.

Meditation Practice: Mindful Meditation

Children, our daily life is just like a tangerine. Just as a tangerine is comprised of sections, each day is comprised of twenty-four hours. One hour is like one section of a tangerine. Living all twenty-four hours of a day is like eating all the sections of a tangerine. The path I have found is the path of living each hour of the day in awareness, mind and body always dwelling in the present moment. The opposite is to live in forgetfulness, we do not know that we are alive. We do not fully experience life because our mind and body are not dwelling in the here and now

This is the fundamental issue with our minds. It's eternally living in another moment, a moment we crave for and desire. In doing so, we completely miss the beauty and bliss of the present moment. The current moment is called 'present' for a reason, it's a gift. A restless mind, however, is either dwelling in the past of dreaming abut the future. The practice of mindful meditation brings you to the present moment, the moment of truth

Mindfulness is about paying attention to every thought (for every action stems from a thought) without discriminating a good thought from a bad thought. When you will begin to watch every action of yours, as you become more mindful, a remarkable thing will happen to you: your mind will start downplaying depressing and hurtful thoughts of the past. Your reaction to anything thrown at you will become a mindful act rather than a knee-jerk response. This leads to a great sense of ease and calm, and you begin to feel more in control. 

On a daily basis, we do so many things mindlessly, without paying attention to our thoughts, emotions, action and inaction. Mindful meditation is the art of doing everything with a sense of awareness and the only way to master this art is by way of practice. 

Mindful meditation is one of the proven and tested ways to break your age-old habits, to shed your old tendencies. Awareness does that naturally, it transforms you into a calm, centered being. This is the easiest way of becoming superconscious of your own actions. With practice, as you transform most of your actions from instinctual to conscious acts, your intelligence gets sharpened because, unlike instinctual actions, performing any conscious act requires a degree of intelligence. The more you use it, the brighter it gets. Mindfulness makes you alert, attentive and watchful.

How to Do It Right

Mindful meditation does not require you to sit in a certain posture. You need not take deep breaths before you start it. On the contrary, it is a practice you have to inculcate in your everyday life, in every waking moment. 
At the heart of the practice of mindful meditation is a simple question: what am I doing now?
Your question and the answers to it, both are in the present continuous tense. In this manner you capture the essence of any moment as it’s passing. 

Within a matter of weeks, you will find yourself calmer, sharper and more alert. You will slow down only to become a lot more efficient. You will eat less but you will gain more (not calories but nutrition) from each bite. Most people forget to chew their food, you won’t. As you become an adept at this meditation, you will get most of your work done without the slightest of stress. As you progress, not only do you become aware of your actions, you become increasingly aware of your emotions, feelings and thoughts.

Next time you have trouble sleeping, ask yourself, what am I doing right now? Now, I’m sleeping. Your mind may feel restless and wander off to thoughts to keep you awake, ask yourself the question again and answer it again. Keep doing it each time your mind drifts away and before long, you will be fast asleep. This meditation is the easiest way to remove distractions. Practicing it also makes you better at other methods of meditation because you are able to filter out distractions. 

If you choose to practice this meditation in a timed session of meditation, where you are sitting on your cushion and meditating, the question will change. 
Instead of saying what am I doing now, you have to ask: “Which thought is on my mind right now?” 
As soon as you will ask this question, you will experience a subtle thoughtless state for a few moments. It is a beautiful experience, addictive even. After a little while, your mind will wander off into its world of thoughts again. Repeat the question. It will come back to the present moment. Keep bringing your mind back to the present moment with the imperative question: “Which thought is on my mind right now?” Gradually, the duration of thoughtlessness will increase and you will become increasingly joyous and composed. 

The mindful practice is a powerful way of staying in the present moment. And the present moment is always stress free. 

It is complete in every sense of the word. Above all, the present moment is the only one we are actually in touch with. It’s the only moment in which we can act or do anything to affect a change.

Similar to the story of Buddha eating tangerine, there’s a famous tea ritual in Zen meditations, where you make, pour, and take every sip with utmost awareness. In Zen, there’s also another form of meditation called kinhin or walking meditation. It’s a type of mindful meditation where you take each step with complete awareness, feeling how your body weight shifts from one step to another. It’s a remarkable way of building mindfulness in the simple act of walking that we take for granted.

Let’s not lose the present moment for this is nature’s greatest ‘present’ that we are alive in this moment. This moment is the only guarantee of life. Put it to use, mindfully.



Meditation Practice: Contemplative Meditation

The basis of contemplative meditation is that eventually you become what you meditate on. 

The seers realized this thousands of years ago and figured out that, by the same logic, if someone meditated on compassion, he would become an embodiment of compassion and that those who contemplated only on the negative aspects of their life keep attracting and manifesting more negativity. Mind does not understand good-bad, right-wrong, moral-immoral. These are the definitions we have fed into our conscious mind. At its root, mind only creates, understands and reacts to a thought.

Contemplative meditation leads to remarkable insight into the true nature of things, the realities of different planes of existence and into many things beyond words.

The term acala vipāśayanā is used in meditation texts. It means the insight devoid of mental activity. Yasyaka, a Vedic scholar who lived before the eminent Sanskrit grammarian Panini in 700 BCE, defines vipāśaya as unfettering, or without a trace. 
And this is the key: when no trace of conditioned mind is left, you gain an insight rising above your intellect and calculations of the conditioned mind. This transcendental knowledge, true insight, comes from within. It is not the product of some conditioning, cogitation or deliberation. It is not some information you’ve gained from any book. Instead, this is the output of contemplative meditation. It springs forth from the primal source within you. 
In truth, meditation is doing away with all labels and conditioning so the real you may rise to the surface.

The primary method of contemplative meditation is done by way of self-enquiry which is further divided into two types. 

Self-Enquiry: who Am I? 

It begins with the fundamental question, “Who Am I?”

Eliminative Contemplation 

In the practice of eliminative contemplation, you get rid of all the labels that you are not. You keep searching for that one permanent label that actually defines who you really are.

Affirmative Contemplation

After you have negated what you are not, reinforce what you are. Affirmative contemplation is the reinforcement of your true identity and it is this reinforcement – this knowledge – that will help you stay calm and blissful while operating the world.

Objects to Meditate On: Meditation on Formless

If you wish to meditate on the formless, there are two ways to do so.

Here’s how to do it correctly: 

  • Assume your yogic posture. 
  • Deep breathe a few times to normalise your energies. 
  • Simply close your eyes and remain thought free. That’s it.

Please note that being thought free is not the same as observing your thoughts. You must not observe or watch your thoughts while meditating on the formless. Instead, it is a practice where mind is directly looking at itself. Meditation on the formless is the hardest to do without guidance because there are a few subtle points which can only be demonstrated and not documented. A master is a must if you wish to champion this form.

The other form of meditation on the formless is called expansive meditation. In this you experience yourself merging in the supreme consciousness.

Here’s how to do it right: 

  • As always, sit comfortably in the yogic posture.
  • Deep breathe a few times. 
  • Visualise a bright, effulgent light or a dark infinite universe. This is the expansive aspect in this meditation. 
  • Gradually visualize that your body is disintegrating and merging in the vast, expansive, infinite universe.

Objects to Meditate On: Meditation on Sound

Meditation on sound requires you to meditate on a repetitive sound. It can be a mantra or any pleasant sound you like – vocal or instrumental. The only condition is that it must be repetitive because you are training your mind to stay on one thing for very long periods of time.

There is a subtle but significant difference in chanting or meditating. Even if you are chanting out loud, whispering or mentally chanting, it is still an act of speaking. It will not allow you to merge in the sound. The auditory consciousness will be a hindrance. Meditating on a mantra means recalling that mantra gently, one after another. Recollection is quite different from speaking. Recollection requires certain visualization. Before you recall, your brain visualizes it. It happens fast but nevertheless it happens.

Here is how to do it right:
  • Sit comfortably in the yogic posture. 
  • Listen to the sound for a few minutes if you are meditating on an external sound and then turn off the source, or simply chant the mantra a few times if you are meditating on a mantra. 
  • Breathe deeply for about five minutes with both nostrils. 
  • Close your eyes or half-close them if you like. 
  • Start recalling the sound you just heard. Or start recalling the mantra you just chanted if you are meditating on a mantra.

When chanting on a mantra, if you simply maintain the same pace during a session, you may experience periods of restlessness and torpor more quickly and frequently. Feel free to vary your pace to retain freshness and clarity.

Objects to Meditate On: Meditation on Breath

Meditating on your breath is the easiest form of concentrative meditation. While strengthening your mindfulness and alertness, it also has great calming effect on the mind. It is particularly useful in tackling restlessness that one experiences during meditation. While meditating on the breath, do not practice pranayama (alternate breathing) or any other yogic forms of breathing. Just breathe normally and watch your breath, pay attention to inhalation and exhalation. Concentrate on your breath. You can keep your eyes open or closed as you like. 

Here’s how to do it right: 

  1. Sit comfortably in the yogic posture. 
  2. Breathe deeply and normally for a few minutes with both nostrils. 
  3. Close your eyes, or lower your eyelids a bit if you don’t wish to completely close your eyes. 
  4. Simply listen to your inhalation. 
  5. Pay attention to the small pause that occurs when inhaling ends and exhaling starts. 
  6. Listen to your exhalation. 

It’s the best meditation to do when you feel restless or anxious. It empties your mind and calms you down. Please note that you must not hold your breath after inhalation (as done in some breathing exercises). Instead, simply just listen to your breath going in and breath going out. Over time, the duration of your breath (both while inhaling and exhaling) extends automatically helping you retain more prana, vital life force, from your breathing. 

On a side note, sometimes when you can’t fall asleep at night. Just lie down in your most comfortable posture. Be absolutely still and meditate on your breath. A great calmness will come over you and you will fall asleep. Some sleep on their left or right side, some like to sleep on their tummy and some on their back. Before meditating on your breath to fall asleep, it is important to lie in the posture you normally go to sleep in. Whether trying to meditate while sleeping or meditating while awake, physical movements disrupt meditation.

Objects to Meditate On: Meditation on Form

In reality, meditating on a form is one of the most difficult and tiring form of meditation but it does result in superior concentration. Regardless of whether the form you are meditating on is external or internal, it is always an internal visualisation.

For example, you may have a pebble in front of you. It’s a simple form and you decide to meditate on the pebble to build your mindfulness and concentration. Here’s how to do it right, step-by-step:
  • Sit in the yogic posture correctly and comfortably. 
  • Observe the pebble for a couple of minutes. Be mindful to not analyse the pebble for why it’s shaped a certain way or has a certain color and so on. Simply observe it with the intention to hold the image in your mind. 
  • Close your eyes and begin visualising the image of the pebble. 
  • After a while, a few seconds, the image of pebble will fade. At that time, gently bring it back to your focus and you will be able to visualise it lucidly again. 
  • When you hit a point that you simply can’t bring the image of the pebble in front of your mind, gently open your eyes, stay in the posture and look at the pebble again for a minute or two and then follow the same process of visualisation as above. 

Initially, the image will fade every few seconds but with practice, you’ll be able to hold the image for much longer in front of your inner eye. After a while, your mind will get tired and you may feel exhausted. You are free to open your eyes and gaze at the pebble again to regain the lucidity of your object of meditation. It is important to visualize internally because remember you are meditating on a form and not simply concentrating on it. Let me explain the subtle difference between the two. When you are meditating, your mind is flowing like a continuous stream and you become more mindful of the boulders of thoughts that may come your way. Meditation is the art of being aware, super-aware in fact. Concentration is simply a way of maintaining your focus. Good concentration leads to great meditation.

Meditation Practice: Concentrative Meditation

One of the greatest rewards of concentrative meditation is the irreversible transformation it brings in you. Your habits, thoughts, emotions no longer provoke you like the earlier times. Internal or external triggers don’t throw you off balance.

Your mindfulness and alertness rises to a degree that you are able to choose your response at all times without falling prey to negative emotions. It comes naturally from the stillness of body and mind. The noise of thoughts become feeble and they lose their steam. 

In concentrative meditation, you settle your mind on your chosen object of meditation which could be an image, breath, a mantra or plain void. While the other five methods of meditation are a lot more lenient about your body posture, concentrative meditation requires complete mastery of your posture. This is mostly because success in this form of meditation demands complete stillness of the body.

How to Do It Right

Stillness of the body and mind comes with great practice. Here’s how to perform concentrative meditation: 

  1. Sit in a comfortable posture, preferably crossed-legged. 
  2. Keep your back and head straight. Neck, slightly bent, just only. 
  3. Abandon all body movements. 
  4. Yoke your focus on any object. 
  5. Maintain great mindfulness. 

Please review and follow the eight elements of a yogic posture and the six principles of meditation. They are entirely applicable to the practice of concentrative meditation. Once seated comfortably but correctly, start building your focus on your chosen object of meditation with complete alertness and mindfulness.

Madhyamaka Hridya states, 
“If one is overcome with distraction, one should retreat and regard it as being a harmful sign of perceptive diversion.”
Thus, whenever you discover that your mind is getting bombarded with other thoughts and emotions (which it will), simply understand that they are distractions. Ignore them and carry on with your concentration. Remember that thoughts are merely thoughts, devoid of any essence. Don’t analyze, pursue, accept, process or examine any thought whatsoever. Our goal is to build non-discriminatory, unblemished, sharp and lucid concentration. If you are meditating correctly, the craving for sensory pleasures will disappear on its own. 

Each time your mind wanders off, bring it back to the point of focus. Over time you will develop razor-sharp awareness; so that, you will become aware of each emerging thought before it turns into a distraction. 

If you find yourself slouching or leaning in any of the four directions, just gently correct your posture. Don’t forget to maintain a gentle smile and steadily retain focus on your chosen object. 

I must reiterate that it is absolutely critical to note that during concentrative meditation, you must stay away from all intellectual examination, contemplation and cogitation.

Do not accept, reject, examine, follow, engage in or pursue your thoughts. Simply do not act or react. Just gently maintain your concentration. Maintain short but crisp and lucid sessions of meditation. An untamed mind cannot stay on a thought for any longer than a few seconds. I would recommend that rather than doing one session of 45 minutes, do three lucid and crisp sessions of fifteen minutes. They will bring much greater benefit. Over time, as you get better, you can gradually increase the duration. 

I would also like to tell you that there is no joy in concentrative meditation, in the actual practice. But once you start to experience a quiescent mind, you will be addicted to meditation.