In this section, we will share a few meditation techniques that you can readily use to find more inner peace and to discover the vast, untapped inner wealth that is a part of each of us.
We will review techniques for relaxation, concentration and meditation that my teacher, Sri Chinmoy, taught and shared. Some are ancient practices that have come to us through traditional guidance and texts. Some are more modern techniques that Sri Chinmoy created to make our entry into meditation easier.
When asked about what would be the best meditation techniques, Sri Chinmoy offered the following exercise:
“If one does not have a teacher, then I advise the seeker to try to make the mind calm and quiet and not allow any wrong thoughts to enter… He has to open himself only to encouraging, illumining and fulfilling thoughts. If hatred enters into my mind while I am meditating, I will try to replace it with love. If insecurity enters into my mind, I will try to replace it with security. And if doubt about my spiritual capacity enters into my mind, I will immediately try to bring faith to the fore to conquer the doubt.” Sri Chinmoy, What I Need from God, Agni Press, 1982
There are a few basic steps to help us enter into a deep and fulfilling meditation: relaxation, concentration and meditation proper. Let’s look at each one in turn.
Specially when you are tired or under stress, it is often very helpful just to stop and take a few deep breaths. Inhale slowly and feel that peace is coming into every part of your being. This is not the relaxation of sleep, but energising relaxation in preparation for a deeper meditation.
Sri Chinmoy writes, “When you feel that you are tired, exhausted, please breathe in quietly. Take several deep breaths and try to feel that you are breathing in from various places. Try to feel that you are breathing in through the eyes, the ears, the forehead, through the crown of the head, through the shoulders and so on. When you are breathing in, if you are conscious of your breath, then you will not feel sleepy.” Sri Chinmoy, Aspiration-Glow and Dedication-Flow, Part 1, Agni Press, 1977
This kind of relaxation is a means of bringing peace into your being in a simple, sweet way.
Concentration comes next. During concentration, we try to make the mind calm and quiet by identifying with something very small. Thoughts will surely arise, but we simply let the thoughts go and come back to our object of meditation – such as a dot on a piece of paper, a candle flame or the point between and slightly above the two eyes of a spiritual Master, a centre of great spiritual energy called the third eye.
The problem is that our minds are usually thinking about this or that – jumping from one thought to another. To allow ourselves to identify with our vast heart, we employ concentration first. In this way, we can quiet the mind.
“The mind is restless; constantly it moves from one idea to another,” writes Sri Chinmoy. “It cannot think of one thing for more than a fleeting minute. In concentration we focus only on one particular object or subject. We do not allow anything else to enter into our mind.”
He adds, “Concentration acts like an arrow in the spiritual life… Concentration clears the way so that the traveller can walk along the path of meditation.” Sri Chinmoy, Aspiration and God’s Hour, Agni Press, 1977
Again, our object of concentration may be a tiny point on a piece of paper, or the centre of a flower or the top of a candle flame. Whatever we use, our attention is always very focused, like a pin-point. We simply look at the object of concentration for a few minutes – and whenever a thought comes into our mind, we just let it go and return to the object of concentration.
This is extremely challenging for almost everybody. But slowly and surely, specially with daily practice, you will find it easier and easier to concentrate – both during the exercise and throughout the day!
After some minutes of concentration, we are ready to enter into meditation proper. When we meditate, we identify with something vast or high or deep. We become the blue sky or the deep ocean itself. But in order to do this, we must be in touch with our heart and our innermost being, our soul. Then the very qualities of the soul – peace, love and joy – can easily enter into our heart, mind and body.
As Sri Chinmoy explains, “When we meditate, we enter into the vast sea, the vast sky, and the reality of that vastness enters into our meditation. In meditation we see the whole sea all at once, whereas in concentration we take it drop by drop.” Sri Chinmoy, Aspiration and God’s Hour, Agni Press, 1977
In later articles, we will cover many types of meditation techniques. What is most important is that a meditation technique should be offered by a true spiritual Master — either in their writings or in person. And, secondly, you should feel a special attraction to the technique you are trying. Meditation is like your long-lost friend – and you will often feel an immediate attraction towards a specific meditation that suits you well.
Here are a couple of simple and universal meditation techniques from Sri Chinmoy:
“When you meditate, feel that you are the sea, and all the animals in the sea do not affect you. Feel that you are the sky, and all the birds flying past do not affect you. Feel that your mind is the sky and your heart is the infinite ocean. That is meditation…
“If thoughts or ideas want to come in, you control them with your inner peace, for they will not be able to affect you. Like fish in the sea, they jump and swim but leave no mark on the water. Like birds flying in the sky, they leave no trace behind them.” Sri Chinmoy, Flame-Waves, Part 2, Agni Press, 1975
In coming articles, we will talk about how to know what meditation techniques are best for you and also describe many different types of concentration and meditation techniques that you can try.
By Agraha Levine