Basic how-to of "meditation"

हरि: ॐ ||

When people ask me what I do or why I deviated from the routine work life that all have, I just tell them that I want to focus on spiritual interests. This, for some reason, means to them that I spend a lot of time in "meditation". I've written earlier too that I don't meditate, nor is it really possible to intentionally meditate, at least not how people use the term in general speech. I used to correct them but I've given up since a while unless its a natural reaction and not a controlled response. However, I do have a decent amount of theoretical and practical background in various types of meditations and related "rituals", including Kundalini and Kriya yoga. What I intend to do in this blog entry is put a general set of directions, something of a how-to (and/or how-not-to) for the kind of questions people ask me on meditation or that I've discussed with friends or my teachers while at Rishikesh. For obvious reasons, the term meditation in the following will mean what it means in a very generic usage and has a broad interpretation. I am just going to put a random list of things more than anything else, so suit yourself to use or discard the same.

0) Have faith.
i) Whatever be the reason to meditate, neither hold by that reason, nor limit your goal to that alone. The former might block your progress and the latter freedom.
ii) Most preferably, get a learned and trained teacher who himself meditates to teach you. There may be some formal initiation involved, in which case know what you're getting into and know for sure thats what you want to get in to. Else, pick a good short term course.
iii) The above also means: do not learn your practice from books, webpages, blogs (including this one), etc, unless you have some background yourself, in practice.
iv) Do not do anything fancy, including advanced or complicated yoga postures/ mudrAs or focusing on physical point of the body, all by yourself. THIS IS RISKY in the long run.
v) Do not use any bIja mantra for chanting along the meditation, unless initiated properly by a qualified Guru who himself was initiated in traditional succession. THIS IS RISKY immediately and a strict no. Not only can it not give results, but even harm.
vi) Use a simple sitting posture that keeps the body erect with a straight back/ spine, neck and head, and one that doesn't give you much bodily discomfort over long durations. sahajAsana is perfect for starters. Face North or East.
vii) Use the same time of day, when not on full stomach, to meditate. Choose the time and place such that the surrounding is clean, silent and you're not interrupted for the duration of meditation. Most obvious time is in the mornings when the mind is yet to get busy with day schedules ahead.
viii) Breathe normally without strain/ putting effort.
ix) Focus on your iShTa devata's or Guru's image mentally with as many details that you can recall, including the most minute. This is particularly safe because the deity or Guru protects one from any harm.
x) Else focus on your normal pace of breathing. Notice how you inhale and exhale, also known as conscious-breathing. Listen to the sound that the breath makes with each flow in and out.
xi) Else focus on your thoughts, without forcibly dragging them to one place or back. Just watch them and be aware.
xii) Do not be harsh towards yourself or others, no matter where your thoughts go. The very idea of meditation is to further yourself from these things.
xiii) IMHO, anything other than above is advanced territory of meditation, to be avoided initially. If you do the above right, you will be led there automatically.
xiv) Do not discuss your experiences with those who understand nothing about meditation.
xv) Stop if you feel any weird uneasiness or discomfort more than a couple of times during meditation. If it continues, approach a learned teacher.
|| श्रीगुरुपादुकार्पणमस्तु ||

The answer

हरि: ॐ ||

*The* answer to the root of all questions 'Who am I?' can never be found because the only route one knows to find answers to any question is insufficient. The ahaMkArA uses the buddhi to probe the manas leading to dig into smRRiti. The source, however, precedes all of these. The mind has never once, in countless janmAs, encountered the true Self in a way so that it could store the same in memory-- it never will either-- and no matter how deep the ego intellectually digs, there is no answer to be found to the same. Hah! All the tools at our disposal have to be thrown lock, stock and barrel for the answer to appear all by Itself, in the most unexperienced, unfelt, way, wiping out the question itself into non-existence.

What a wonderful journey its turning out to be!! It will all end some time, when time itself will have gone too.

|| श्रीगुरुपादुकार्पणमस्तु ||