Meditation: What and How

posted Oct 7, 2012, 11:37 AM by Interfaith WS

            Since she opened her New York psychotherapy practice, Gail has felt that the conventional approach misses the point. “It doesn’t reach the whole person,” she said. Even after incorporating holistic therapies, deep relaxation, and hypnosis, she sensed she was still working on the fringe.

            “So many clients asked me about meditation that I decided to learn it myself so I could teach them. A few months ago, I began attending meditation and centering workshops. I learned how to meditate on a candle flame, on my breath, and guided imagery. But I confess that I still don’t have a clue as to what meditation is really all about. What is meditation, and how and why does it work?”


            Darshani: Meditation means stilling the mind. Why do we still it? To know who we are. We are not the body or the mind. We are that limitless pure Consciousness that transcends both. We are existence itself, existence that does not depend on a period of time, a place, or a condition. We are absolute bliss, not the bliss evoked from contact with an object or person but pure unobjectified bliss. To realize THAT is called enlightenment or Self-Realization. We do not meditate to get something we don’t have. We meditate to know what we already are.

            G. No one who taught me meditation ever explained it to me that way. What do I do now? How do I get that experience?

            D. Give some thought to what motivates your clients, and what motivates most people to meditate. We are sick and tired of the uncontrolled flow of thought that enslaves us and keeps us hopping to fulfill every whim. We’re sick of needing drugs to blast our minds out of existence. We’re sick of hate, jealousy, fear, insecurity, and loneliness. At the root of it all is alienation from our Self, from our center. Distractions have run us out of our Home and cut us off from Source. Falsely, we identify with our ever-restless, ever-changing body and mind instead of the boundless Being we are. We want limitlessness. We want permanence. We want joy. For that, we have to transcend the mind.

            An Indian master instructed seekers who wanted to learn meditation to ask themselves this question: What is my highest concept of Reality? Saturate that question with reflection because that Reality is what you want to tie into. What you meditate on you will experience, so your object should be what you want. Give yourself time to think about it. Meditation is a lifetime affair, not a one-shot session.

            Suppose your highest concept of Reality is an Incarnation. In that case, your object of meditation is Reality in a personal form. Your culture and tradition will determine whether the form is Jesus, Krishna, Muhammad, Gautama Buddha, or other forms.

            Suppose your highest concept of Reality is all-pervading Light, infinity, Being-ness, pure Intelligence, and formlessness. You would meditate on the impersonal Reality called Brahman in Sanskrit. If your highest concept of Reality is the I AM behind the name and form of Gail, you would meditate on your identity as the nondual Brahman. What is essential is that you understand and love what you meditate on. Your heart must be involved, not your head. Only the heart can penetrate that “cloud of unknowing.”

            G. Suppose I have my object clear in mind. Where do I go from there?

            D. Among the most scientific paths of spiritual development is Raja Yoga (the King’s Yoga). Through eight rungs on the ladder called Ashtanga Yoga (Eight Steps), we can reach the zenith of human evolution. The first two steps focus on character and ethical purity. The third step is Hatha Yoga (postures). To meditate deeply, the body must be able to remain absolutely motionless. Yoga asanas bestow this inner poise. The fourth step is Pranayama (breath control). Slow, quiet breathing is a prerequisite for meditation. The fifth step is sense-withdrawal. Our senses must withdraw from objects before we can meditate. Most important is the sixth step, concentration, for without concentration, the seventh step, meditation, is impossible. Trying to meditate before working the first six steps is like putting a roof on a house before putting up the walls.

            When meditation gets very deep, we enter the super-conscious state. We cannot climb onto that eighth rung of the ladder. We are lifted up to it by the divine Force within.

            You live in a big city where you have access to Hatha and Raja Yoga classes that teach according to ancient Eastern traditions. Take advantage of it. If you can find only Hatha Yoga instruction, then work the Eight Steps guided by good books on Raja Yoga. Systematic and simultaneous practice of the rungs of the Raja Yoga ladder will yield an understanding of Truth and the capacity to meditate deeply.

            G. Will I be able to teach my clients to meditate?

            D. Of course, and not only that. Every infusion from higher states of consciousness will transform you and your clients. After all, what we give to others is not what we know. We give them what we are.