Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Dear Yoga Mentor

Sometimes students write to or ask Swami Veda and other senior teachers in our tradition questions about practice.  When this happens, Swami Veda may answer the question himself or ask a senior teacher to do so, or if the question is asked directly to a senior teacher, the senior teacher will respond.  This is one such “Question and Answer,” or Q&A.

Question:  I had attended many classes, but I am unable to get controlled meditation; always it occupies with thoughts.

Answer: Three have answered this question: Peter Fabian, Lalita Arya (Ammaji), and Carolyn Hume.

From Peter Fabian:

Well, congratulations on attending meditation classes.  The problem with uncontrolled thoughts is a common one shared by all who are starting (and continuing) a practice.  The control of meditation or the consistent lack of having wandering thoughts distracting the mind is actually one of the highest goals in our practice of meditation.

This goal is not something that is easily achieved early on for many.  It does come from a stable mindfield.  This stabilizing of the mindfield is related to our practice when we sit and our practice during the day of our normal life.

Make sure your basics of preparation are firm/sound.  You have scheduled a consistent time and place to meditate.  You have done the preparation beforehand in your life to allow the mind to sit in its seat of the asana, breath and mantra.

Look carefully at both your particular practice that you do each time and also look carefully at lifestyle factors that lay the proper preparation that will facilitate your structured meditation practice.

Consult a teacher about your particulars for further guidance.

It is such a blessing to walk this path.  Much love and light in your journey.

From Lalita Arya (Ammaji):

 (1) This student may be asked whether relaxation is practiced - with withdrawal from external stimuli into focus on the outer self then the inner self.
(2) Thoughts should not be suppressed. The whole idea of the meditation session at first is to examine the thoughts, the sources, dwell on them and if solutions or resolutions are needed and do not come up, then slowly they should be let go. If they recur, the same efforts should be made again and again until the mind can still itself.
(3) Maybe one of SVB's tapes on relaxation and beginning meditation might be helpful.
Hope this helps.

From Carolyn Hume:

Uncontrolled thoughts are common for those beginning to practice and for those who have practiced over the years and attended many classes.

Sitting for meditation at the same time every day can establish a good habit.

We sometimes forget that meditation is the 7th step in raja yoga and forget about the yamas, niyamas, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, and dharana.  Recommended reading: The Royal Path by Swami Rama.

When one finds that one is thinking, one can become aware that one is thinking.  Do not identify with the thoughts; just witness them.  Gently return your mind to your posture, your breathing, and your mantra.  You may have to do this repeatedly.  Sometimes you cannot witness the thoughts, but identify with them and get drawn into them – but when you realize that you have done this, go through the process above.

Introspection of your thoughts can help you determine which are helpful and which are not.

Swami Veda’s booklet “Beginning Meditation” is available online at http://ahymsin.org/main/Swami-Veda-Bharati/beginning-meditation.html and can be helpful to a new student or to a continuing student as a review.

The steps in this writing are:

  1. Diaphragmatic and uniform breathing.
  2. Correct posture, with a straight spine, and no feeling of discomfort in the legs, back or the neck. One should be able to maintain such correct and straight position of the spine without encountering discomfort.
  3. Shithili-karana, or systematic relaxation. One should maintain total relaxation of the neuro-muscular system throughout a meditation session.
  4. Awareness of breathing. It has some subtler modes that one learns gradually.
  5. Using a mantra or a sacred word from whichever spiritual tradition: (a) Initially a sound that flows easily with the breath, such as the word Soham. (b) After such a step has been mastered, a mantra-diksha (initiation into mantra) is given and more advanced methods of refined japa (mental remembrance of the mantra) are gradually introduced.
  • And Swami Veda writes:

  • 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.

    In The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation, Swami Veda has written

    Purification of thoughts and emotions: to prevent internal disturbances from extraneous thoughts and sentiments arising during meditation one needs to practice purifications such as:

    (a) the five yamas: non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, abstinence from sensual indulgence, non-possessiveness, and the five niyamas: purity, contentment, practices that lead to perfection of body and mind and senses, study that leads to knowledge of the Self, surrender to the ultimate reality,

    (b) the four brahma-viharas or right attitudes: friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked. (YS.I.33),

    (c) the antidotes to disturbing thoughts, prati-paksha-bhavana (YS.II.33) to ward off the thoughts (vi-tarkas) opposed to the yamas, niyamas, and brahma-viharas (YS.II.34), and so forth. The practice of these leads to:

    (i) ethical behaviour,
    (ii) thereby loosening the bonds of karma, and
    (iii) chitta-pra-sadana, clarity and purification of mind, making the mind pleasant and clear, and thereby
    (iv) sthiti-ni-bandhana, firming up the physical and mental stability and steadiness in life and during meditation.

    Beginning Meditation and The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation can be found in the book Night Birds by Swami Veda Bharati.

    Editor's Note:

    To inquire about purchasing relaxation and meditation recordings by Swami Veda Bharati: http://yogapublications.org/index.php?route=information/contact

    Also Basic Relaxations (“This Basic Relaxation recording contains a series of guided breathing and relaxation practices, and a guided meditation for beginning students wishing to explore the more subtle aspects of yoga meditation.”) can purchased as a download at CD Baby and iTunes. It is also available as a CD through The Meditation Center online bookstore.  The Yoga in Europe Online Media Store also offers recordings.

    Night Birds by Swami Veda Bharati can be purchased through Himalayan Yoga Publications Trust, the online bookstore of The Meditation Center (which ships nationally and internationally), http://www.yogaineurope.eu/store/books/catalog/13/ (in Europe) and other bookstores.



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