Maybe this is new concept to grasp – not the word meditation but what you are about to embark on. Just YouTube search mediations and you will find meditation for sleep, mediation for balance, meditation for focus, ect. All which is fine by it seems so complicated, overwhelming call it- how do I know when and where and how to do these so called meditation and why would I, what the point really? Why would anyone ever think to themselves- well I better go sit over there cross my legs and wait a while and come out feeling oh so fresh in this headspace?
The art of meditation is a way of getting in touch with reality. That’s it. I could stop there because I just gave you the answer.
Most civilised people are out of touch with reality because they confuse the world as it is -as the world they think about and describe it. On the one hand there is the real world and on the other a whole system of symbols about that world which we have in our minds. These are very useful symbols -all civilizations depends on them but like all good things they have there disadvantages. And the principal disadvantage with symbols is that we confuse them with reality. Just as we confuse money with actual wealth- and our names about ourselves- our ideas of ourselves- our images of ourselves-with ourselves. From a philosophers point of view he would ask ‘what do you mean by reality’, is it the material world that surrounds us or the spiritual world – or what? And for that I have a very simple answer. When I talk about the material world that is an actual ‘philosophical concept’- so in the same way if I say ‘reality is spiritual’ that’s also a philosophical concept. And reality itself is not a concept. Reality is ___*insert the sounds of a gong*_____ and we wont give it a name.
If we were too look up at the midnight sky and see groups of stars- what is to say they are out there but rather a group of stars in the minds eye. So in turn if I look at myself and the universe- it is nothing more then an idea. Meditation is a way in which we come to feel our basic inseparability from the whole universe. And what that requires is that we – shut up- that is to say that we must become entirely silent and cease from the constant chatter that goes on inside our skulls. because you see most of us think compulsively all the time- talking to ourselves. If I talk all the time I don’t hear what anyone else has to say, so in the same way if I think (is to say I talk to myself) all the time I don’t have anything to think about accept thoughts. And there for I am living entirely in the world of symbols and I’m never in relationship with reality. Alright – so that’s the first basic reason for meditation. Bam, read that again until you get it, moving on though.
There is an other sense and this is going to be a little bit more difficult to understand, we could say meditation doesn’t have a reason or doesn’t have a purpose. In this respect it is unlike all other things that we do except perhaps making music and dancing. Because when we make music we don’t do it to reach a certain point. And so like wise when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a certain point on the floor. The journey itself is the point. When we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at -in the immediate moment. And therefore if you meditate for an alterative motive- like improve your mind- improve your character- to be more efficient in life- then you got your eye on the future and you are not meditating. Because the future is a concept. It doesn’t exist. As the proverbs says ‘tomorrow never comes’. There is no such thing as tomorrow- there never will be because time is always now. And that is one of the things that we discover when we stop talking to ourselves and stop thinking- we will find that there is only a present and only an eternal now. So its funny now isn’t it that one meditates for no reason at all-except we could say for the enjoyment of it. Meditation should be fun- it is not something we do as a grim duty. Trouble with religion is that it is so mixed up with grim duties. ‘Do it because its good for you’ and as self punishment. Well mediation when correctly done has nothing to do with all that. It is a kind of digging the present- kind of grooving the eternal now. Bringing us into a state of peace, where we can understand that the point of life, the place where it is at is simple, HERE and NOW.
In the art of mediation there are various props, props to help as a means of stilling the chatter in the mind. The Buddhist gong or as yogis call it -singing bowls would be the perfect thing for sound. If you don’t have one you can chant and use your voice, a very common chant is the universal sound ‘aum’, we will learn more about that later on. An other prop is the use of incense, and that is because the sense of smell is our repressed sense and because it is out repressed sense it has a very powerful impression on us and there for we associate a certain smell with a certain state of mind. So the smell of incense is associated with peace and contemplation. The other prop that can be used are mala beads- they can be used in meditation for an unconscious method of timing yourself- instead of watching time, move your fingers over the next bead every time you breath in and out. When you breath slowly and mindfully half way around a mala you would have reach 40 minutes in length of time, which is the usual length of time for one to sit in meditation otherwise the body starts aching or stiff legs and problems of that kind.
The other thing we can get into is how does one sit in meditation? You can sit anyway you want really, on a chair- lotus posture- the Japanese way with the knees bent like crossed legs and the feet under the posture with the soles facing upwards. The point of this is that if you keep your back erect- not stiff- you will be centred and easily balanced and rooted to the ground. Physical stability is very important for the avoidance of distraction and generally feeling settled. HERE and NOW- I’m here and I’m going to stay.
The easiest way to get into the meditative state is to begin by listening and allow yourself to hear all the sounds that are going on around you. Just listen to the general hum and buzz of the world, as if you were listening to music. Don’t try and identify the sounds, don’t put names on them, simple allow them to play with your ear drum and let them go. Just let your ears hear whatever it is they want to hear. Don’t judge the sound, there is no proper sounds or improper sounds. Just let the sounds come and see if you can practice this without labelling what sounds you hear- you will see that your mind is capable of doing this all on its own without any effort. It is important that you don’t try and repress those thoughts by forcing them out of your mind because that will have precisely the same effect as smoothing ripples on water with a flat iron. Your just going to disturb it all the more. What you do is this- as you hear sounds coming up in your head- thoughts, simply listen to them as part of the general noise going on just as you would be listening to the sound of cars going by to birds chattering outside the window. So look at your own thoughts as just noises and soon you will find that the so called outside world and the so called inside world come together- they are a happening. Your thoughts are happening just like the sounds going on outside. Everything is simple a happening. All you are doing is watching it.
Now through this process an other thing is happening- your breath. As you start meditating you allow your breath to run just as it will, don’t do any breath work, just watch your breath breathing the way it breaths. The curious thing about breath is that we can look at is as a voluntary or as an involuntary. You can feel on the one hand I am doing it and on the other hand it is happening to me. And that is why breathing is the most important part of meditation. Because it is going to show you – as you become aware of your breath that the hard and fast division that we make between what we do on one hand and what happens to us on the other is arbitrary. So that as you watch you breathing you will become aware of both you voluntary and involuntary aspects as all one happening. When you breath for a while, just letting it happen and not forcing it in anyway, you will discover a curious thing, that without making any effort, you can breath more and more deeply. When you are breathing out you get this sensation that your breath is falling out, dropping dropping dropping out, the same sensation you have when you are settling in a extremely comfortable bed, and you just get as heavy as possible and you just let yourself go, and you let your breath go out in just that way. And when it is fully comfortably out and you feel like breathing in again, you don’t pull it in- you let it fall back in, letting your lungs expand expand expand until they feel very comfortable and you wait a moment and let it stay there and then once again you let it fall out. And so in this way your breath gets easier and easier and slower and slower and more and more powerful.
So with these varies aids- listening to sound- listening to your own interior feelings and thoughts just as if they were something going on- not something you are doing but just happenings and watching your breath as a happening as neither voluntary nor involuntary you are simply aware of these sensations. Then you begin to be in the state of meditation. But don’t hurry anything, don’t worry about the future, don’t worry about what progress your making, just be entirely content, to be aware of what is. Don’t be selective with your thoughts like I should be thinking of that and not of this. Just watch whatever is happening.
To make this some what easier, to have the mind free of discusions of whatever it is thinking, sound or chanting sound is extremely useful. If you for example listen to the gong and let that sound be the whole of your experience its quite simple, requires no effort. In the Sanskrit language 'mantras' are chanting sound which are used not so much for there meaning as for the simple tone. And they go along with that easy slow breath. One of the basic mantras is of course the sounds ‘aum’. The reason of this is because it start from the back of the throat to the lips and therefore contains the whole range of the voice. And for that reason it represent the total energy of the universe. When you immerse yourself in this sound you will find yourself living in an eternal now, in which there is no past and there is no future and there is no thing called difference between what you are as knower and what you are as known it all become one happening.
Now doing this for 40 minutes- chatting and whatever it is you choose to do- will bring you out of your mind- but you see- to go out of your mind, at least once day is tremendously important because going out of your mind- you come to your senses. And if you stay in your mind all the time, you are over rationale. And to be rational is to be like a bridge, a stiff one, and then a hurricane comes it will destroy that bridge, unlike a bridge that has some give to it. So when life comes the way it does, and all the happenings are happening, why not be at ease with all that is and all that may be.
Love and light