Practice of Meditation
The seeker who wants to be established in the knowledge of the Self has to follow certain disciplines, practicing them regularly, riding the steed of yoga till there is total abidance of the Self.
The key prerequisites for the practice of dhyana are the following:
Sant Jnaneshwarji Maharaj has given an elaborate description about the place of meditation in ‘Jnaneshwari’. He says, it should preferably be a naturally beautiful forest, not dense or infested with animals, with a river or a stream flowing nearby and a small beautiful temple at a short distance (quoted in Tejomayananda, 2004:17). What is suggested is to seek a quiet place, free from the inevitable disturbances that are part and parcel of life without giving up one’s duties and obligation in life and just remain in that state.
Sitting in a solitary place is necessary as in meditation, we are trying to withdraw the mind from the world of outer objects and tune in to the Self.
Having created the necessary atmosphere of solitude, we have to sit on a proper seat “asana” for meditation. One has to settle for a neat and clean place in a quiet corner of the house for placing the ‘asana’. The seat should be firm, placed neither too high nor too low and it should be comfortable, so one can sit, without disturbance, (Bhagavad-Gita. 6.11).
On the seat of meditation, one should sit with the legs forming a firm base, the upper body erect and upright without any tension anywhere. The posture should be such that one can sit comfortably for at least forty five minutes without any movement of the body the eye still and vision single pointed, as though looking at the tip of the nose (Bhagavad-Gita, 6.13)
“Yato drishti tato manah” – if the eyes wander, the mind will also wander, making it difficult for the mind to remain still and single pointed.
‘Mantrojapa’ is one of the means employed by which the mind converges to one point.
The meditator should sit with an attitude of being seeker of Truth and refrain from carrying the thought that I am a householder or an officer or an industrialist and so on, which may be the occupation of the individual. Salutations to the teacher meditating on the beautiful form of the Lord in the heart or chanting the mantra of the Lord, the name of that particular deity are signs of adopting a right attitude while meditating.
Withdrawing the mind
Only when the mind is totally detached from the objects, can it abide in the Self. It is, therefore, important to eliminate the distractions of the mind. “The mind following the wandering senses, loses its discriminating capacity, just as unmanned ship is carried away by the winds to its own destruction” (Bhagvad-Gita, 2.67).
The mind is a subtle and very delicate instrument. The process of withdrawing and refining the mind has to be carried out slowly and with infinite patience, without fighting the mind.
Fixing the Mind in the Self
The absorption of the withdrawn mind in the Self, is accomplished through Sattavic Budhi i.e. intellect with the capacity to discriminate between the Self and the not-Self. The single-pointed mind can be directed with the help of pointers like – “That Pure Consciousness I am”
When the mind has become quiet and withdrawn, it suddenly begins to think of this state.
Mounam or Silence
The realization that beyond all divinities existed the resplendent and inner most Self and that it would be attained by withdrawing the outgoing senses, stabilizing the mind and concentrating upon the inner most self, gave way to emergence of dhyana as an essential and useful contemplative technique. In this process, silence (mauna) and renunciation of worldly life were the contributing or facilitating factor.
(The above short extract is from an unpublished work titled, ‘Evaluating the impact of meditation and silence’ by Swati)