Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Progress in Meditation

by Swami Rama

[This passage has been taken from the book Choosing a Path, pp 137 – 139, by Swami Rama, published 1982 by the Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the USA].

The student of meditation, without understanding the importance of pratyahara, cannot concentrate the mind and thus is unable to sit in meditation. The mind is in the habit of functioning along the ten avenues or senses. These senses distract and dissipate the energy of mind. But the mind can function without the help of the senses. In such a state, the mind starts turning within. During the practice of pratyahara, the student restrains himself from doing meaningless actions that are not related to this practice.  Learning to withdraw the senses from the objects of the world does not mean withdrawal from the world, but the student, before sitting in meditation, has to learn to withdraw the senses from the objects of sense perception before he steps into another stage called concentration. Here I would like to mention that concentration for meditation and concentration in the external world are two different ideas. Concentration in the external world does not help the student of meditation.

Paying attention toward the action one is performing and performing one action at a time strengthens the power of concentration. Concentration helps one to be successful in the external world by helping him to do his duties efficiently and competently. It should not be forgotten that the mind attends one thing at a time, though at a fast speed. Students often think that the mind can attend more than one thing at a time. In attempting this, the power of distraction increases and concentration decreases. For strengthening concentration, attention should be trained. That is why the teacher gives an object or a point – to focus the mind for strengthening concentration. A fully concentrated mind has immense power – unbelievable power – which is attained by concentrating and focusing the mind.  That makes the mind one-pointed, and pratyahara makes the mind inward. The inward tendency and one-pointedness help the student in doing meditation. In meditation, the mind starts flowing spontaneously and uninterruptedly, but this flow of concentrated mind is inward. The body remains still, and the breath remains calm and serene. Such a mind experiences the joys of meditation.

So often, students learn to sit in meditation without preliminary preparations and are disappointed if they do not find peace of mind and joy in meditation. Actually, according to the system of raja yoga, the student needs to prepare himself before he practices meditation. In our day-to-day life, and from our childhood onward, sitting still, looking within, withdrawing the senses, and focusing the mind on the centres (like the space between the eyebrows and the centre between the breasts) are not taught. Therefore it is difficult for a student to actually meditate and find the inexplicable joy that is quite different from the joy derived from the pleasures of the world. The joy derived out of meditation makes one calm, balanced, and thoughtful.  Such a joy gives strength to students, and they remain undisturbed in the trials of life. In order to form such a habit of being undisturbed – even by strong memories and imaginations – one must at first choose a calm, quiet place for meditation.

Meditation opens an entirely new dimension of life for the student. There is no other method for enjoying now except the method of meditation. When meditation deepen, and the mind starts flowing toward the centre of consciousness, then the student finds great delight, and meditation becomes a part of life. When one learns to sit regularly, at the same exact time and place, he gradually expands his capacity, and his mind forms a habit and finds delight in meditation. Much has been written on the subject, but very little is useful, for inner experiences cannot be drawn on a piece of paper. It is important that the student of meditation is guided, at least for some time until his meditation is strengthened, and that he receives instructions from a teacher who has direct experience and who himself practices meditation. Many obstacles obstruct the student when he encounters his memories, symbols, and ideas. Sometimes the fancies and fantasies are mistaken for visions. Some students are deluded by extraordinary visions, and some aspire to experience and visualise something extraordinary. Neither of these types of students progress, because the psychic world bewilders and distracts them. Students should learn to reject such experiences and watch their progress by the signs and symptoms of calmness, clarity, and one-pointedness. If there is no sign or symptom of calmness, balance, and clarity of mind in the personality of the student, there is something wrong with the method of meditation. Anyone can theoretically know the method of meditation in a matter of a half hour, but practice alone is the real method of learning.

Editor's Note

For published works of Swami Rama and Swami Veda Bharati, please visit www.yogapublications.org or email [email protected].



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