Meditation: Touching The Infinite
What is meditation?
Most of us have had meditative moments at some time in our lives often without realising what they are – moments when all the usual preoccupations and thoughts of the mind fall away, leaving us with an experience of calm, clarity, delight. Perhaps you were walking along the seashore and in that moment of nothing to do, nowhere to go, surrounded by the vastness of ocean and sky you experienced the silence of pure consciousness, the stillness of the self within.
Such moments offer glimpses, as though through a small clear window, into a deeper part of our being. Meditation is the attempt to uncover all of these qualities within us, to penetrate beyond the mind to gain an awareness of who we really are.
"Meditation is absolutely necessary for those who want to have a better and more fulfilling life. If you feel that you are satisfied with what you have and what you are then you need not enter into the field of meditation. But if you feel that there is a barren desert deep inside your heart, then meditation is the answer. Meditation will give you inner joy and peace of mind."
Most of us think of ourselves in terms of personality, profession, body and mind, large or small, but these aspects mask a deeper reality – for we are not just a human being having a spiritual experience but a spiritual being having a human experience.
Most forms of meditation have this belief in our divine potential as a starting point, and then follow a method to reveal and develop it.
There are often misconceptions about meditation, and topics like kundalini, astral travel, ESP, occult and psychic powers, clairvoyance and levitation have become associated with meditation in a misleading way. For these pursuits are like kindergarten toys when compared to the benefits and joys of pure meditation, which has as its primary motive the discovery of our higher nature, our soul's vastness and joy, the divine within us. Comments Sri Chinmoy:
"When the soul's will power is expressed, it is like a huge wave in the sea. Immediately it inundates the entire consciousness. Once the soul's will is expressed, you are bound to feel that your inner consciousness is inundated with divine energy, inner joy, inner delight, inner power and confidence. Everything negative is swept away by the surge of the soul's force."
We begin meditation with a variety of different motives – to relax more, to sleep better, to overcome stress or personal difficulties, to explore more of our inner life – but along the way find that we have embarked upon an immense journey. For meditation is the expansion of our consciousness and there is no end to the progress we can make.
Many other seekers have passed this way before us, some journeying to the farthest frontiers of self-awareness. These inner travellers are the spiritual masters, the mystics and pathfinders who appear in every age to guide and inspire humanity. Like expert climbers who have reached the highest peaks, they come back down to guide us quickly and safely to our own highest heights. Sri Chinmoy is such a guide, a spiritual master who has explored the furthest realms of consciousness. His teachings on meditation offer a profound wisdom and a guiding light to truth seekers everywhere who seek a higher and more fulfilling life.
When you begin learning meditation, don't simply meditate to have nice experiences. Meditate to make progress in your life journey, to nourish and foster your spiritual growth, no matter how long it takes, and to deepen your soul’s conscious oneness with realise God. Like a fruit slowly ripening on a tree, the benefits of your practise will mature and ripen and one day manifest themselves in all aspect of your life. Have patience, determination, discipline.
When learning how to meditate, you must learn first how to concentrate, to bring the energies of the mind to focus on a single point like a magnifying glass harnessing the sun. Simply to still the mind for a few minutes is difficult. Try it! More than ever before you will become aware of how busy the mind is – like a river flowing by, a river of thoughts, daydreams, fantasies, desires, memories. There are breathing techniques, mantras, visualisations and other techniques to help in this process. Meditation follows quietly in the wake of these skills, which lay the foundations. We tend to look for spectacular results, to evaluate our progress, but each attempt at meditation is itself progress – rather like running a marathon, each step we take is bringing us closer to our final goal. Resistance and difficulties are a natural part of our struggle to make progress – they are the limitations of our consciousness which we are trying to transcend.
Self mastery and God discovery are the only two things that each human being on earth must take seriously. Everything else can be taken lightly.
If you learn to meditate, there are many benefits. You will have more dynamism and energy, more joy in your life, more capacity to cope with this world. You may suddenly need less sleep, and yet sleep better; have more awareness and compassion for others; lose your anger, aggression and frustration or your insecurity and fear. You will slowly gain access to your soul's qualities, which are all perfection, and feel yourself guided from within. Your whole life will begin to change. Your practise of meditation is also the highest thing you can do for others.
People often ask about the merits of following a spiritual path, or whether it is necessary to have an advanced teacher or guru. There are many paths to the top of the mountain and you need to feel with your heart which particular path is meant for you. Certainly if you wish to move quickly in your spiritual journey the support of a group and a living meditation master is an immense advantage. If you wish to fly a plane, learn to use a computer, become a doctor or physicist, you accept a teacher till your own proficiency is established – how long would it take you to master these skills without one?
Realising your highest potential is far more difficult than any of these and a spiritual master will dramatically accelerate your progress; his or her role is to inspire, awaken your aspiration and hunger, remind you of your real purpose and undertake the responsibility of leading you to your highest potential. "Our goal," my own teacher Sri Chinmoy writes, "is always to go Beyond, Beyond, Beyond. There are no limits to our capacity because we each have the infinite divine within us." Once you enter into your teacher's boat, then it is the problem of the boatman to take you to the golden shore.
If you have not meditated before try this simple exercise: find a quiet place in your house where you will be undisturbed for the next ten minutes, remove your shoes and sit with your spine reasonably straight. Simply notice your breathing for a few minutes and when your mind is calmer breathe in peace, a feeling of serenity and calm and imagine all your restlessness and negative qualities leaving you. Don't be disturbed by external sounds – these will always be there – just dive within. Cultivate an absolute stillness in your body, mind and breath. Let your mind be like a calm clear sky; if thoughts come don't attach any significance to them. If you can empty your mind even for a short while you will feel more peaceful and meditative. With practice all your life can be your meditation.
But you have to make a start!