Dear Yoga Mentor, My Question Is…

Sometimes students have written to or asked Swami Veda Bharati, Swami Ritavan Bharati, and other senior teachers in our tradition questions about practice.  This is one such “Question and Answer,” or Q&A.


What should one do of s/he wants to meditate but while meditating s/he is disturbed by the disturbing thoughts that are uncontrollable? And what if during the attempt of meditation the mind is invaded by obscene thoughts or images of the revered beings like saints and/or God? The fact that more we prohibit a thought from coming to mind, more forcefully it enters in, makes the thing more difficult! In that condition should one continue meditation-attempt or leave it or keep on take small gaps in between?


Three have answered this question: Michael Smith, Stephen Parker (Stoma), and Carolyn Hume.

From Michael Smith:

1) Let any thoughts that come into the mind pass though, like leaves on the surface of a river floating downstream, or traffic going by on a busy street. Don’t give thoughts any energy by paying attention to them. Good, bad, ugly thoughts, silly thoughts, heavy thoughts – it makes no difference; the technique is the same.

2) As best as you can, let your breathing be continuous and unbroken, like a circle, or a sine wave. If the breath is perfectly pause-less, thoughts cannot exist. The unbroken breath stream is your best friend. It’s quite magical that something so simple could be so powerful!

3) Between the exhalations and inhalations, however, there might be a slight pause. Be particularly vigilant to your breathing during these transitions and keep the breath flowing smoothing and effortlessly.

4) With exhalations, there is a natural “letting go,” a good time to visualize any thoughts leaving and dissolving. With inhalations be sure to continue the feeling of release and letting go and not allow tension to come.

5) If you have a personal mantra, replace random thoughts with the mantra thought. If you do not have a personal mantra, use the mantra “So-ham” – “So” with the inhalations, and “Ham” with the exhalations. Two thoughts cannot exist in the mind simultaneously, so concentrate on keeping the mantra thought. Whenever a random thought intrudes, that is the signal to return to the mantra thought. “So-ham” is a high mantra, a maha-vakya, and its subtle sound is intrinsically beneficial.

From Stephen Parker (Stoma)

Remember that thoughts that arise in meditation are part of a natural cleansing process that the mind goes through. If you simply observe these thoughts and let them go without reacting to them, gradually your mind will clarify and settle down. We all have disturbing thoughts that arise. If you allow yourself to react to these thoughts and images then you begin to recycle them back into your mind in the form of samskaras.

From Carolyn Hume

In addition to what Michael and Stoma have written, Swami Veda wrote,

“If the mind wanders off, because of its usual habit that has been given to it over many lifetimes, straighten your spine again; relax quickly again; re-establish diaphragmatic breathing; continue with the awareness of the flow and touch of the breath in the nostrils.”

Editor’s Notes:

If you have a question about spiritual practice, you can use this link to ask it:  http://ahymsin.org/main/adhyatma-samiti-spiritual-committee.html

To read “Dear Yoga Mentor, My Question Is…” columns, please use this link: http://ahymsin.org/main/practice/dear-yoga-mentor-my-question-is.html



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