1. There are different kinds of meditation. Particular kinds are best suited for particular minds. The kind of meditation varies according to taste, temperament, capacity and the mind of the individual. A devotee meditates on his tutelary deity or Ishta Devata. A Raja Yogi meditates on the special Purusha (Spirit) or Isvara (an aspect of God) who is not touched by afflictions, desires and Karmas. A Hatha Yogi meditates on the Chakras and their presiding deities. A Jnani meditates on his
own Self or Atman. You will have to find out yourself which kind of meditation is suitable for you. If you are not able to do this, you will have to consult a teacher or guru who has attained Self-realization. He will be able to know the nature of your mind and the correct method of meditation for you.

2. The mind assumes the form of the object it cognizes. Only then is perception possible. A Bhakta (devotee) constantly meditates on the form of his tutelary deity and his mind always takes the form of that deity. Then when he is established in his meditation, when he attains the stage of Para – Bhakti or supreme devotion, he sees his Ishta Devata everywhere. Names and forms vanish. A Jnani or a Vedantin sees his own Self or Atman everywhere. The world of names and forms vanishes from his view. He experiences the utterances of the seers of the Upanishads: Sarvam khalvidam Brahma All indeed is Brahman (God).

3. There exist two main kinds of Meditation, viz., Saguna (concrete) meditation and Nirguna (abstract) meditation. In concrete meditation the Yoga student concentrates on the form of the object. In abstract meditation he concentrates all the energy of his mind on one idea of Spirit or Atman and avoids comparisons with memories and all other ideas. One idea fills the whole mind.

4. When you see concrete objects with open eyes and meditate, it is a concrete form of meditation. When you reflect upon the image of your object with closed eyes, it is also a concrete form of meditation but it is more abstract. When you meditate on infinite abstract light it is an even more abstract form of meditation. The former two types belong to the Saguna forms of meditation, the latter to the Nirguna form. Even in Nirguna meditation there is a concrete form in the beginning which steadies the mind. Later on this form vanishes and the meditator and meditated become one. Meditation proceeds
from the mind.

5. Saguna meditation is meditation on a form. This is a concrete form of meditation for people of devotional temperament. This is meditation with Gunas or attributes. Repeat the mantra AUM. Think of the attributes of the Supreme: Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence… Your mind will be filled with purity. Again and again repeat this process.

6. Here is one kind of meditation for beginners. Sit in Padmasana in a solitary room. Close your eyes. Meditate on the effulgence of the sun, the splendour of the moon, the glory of the stars and the beauty of the sky.

7. Or meditate on the magnanimity of the ocean, its infinite nature. Compare the ocean with the Infinite Brahman, the waves, foams and blocks of ice to the various names and forms. Identify yourself with the ocean. Become silent and expand. Expand.

8. This is another kind of meditation, especially for those of you of indian background. Meditate on the Himalayas. Imagine that the River Ganga takes its origin from the icy region of Gangotri, near Uttarkasi, flows through Rishikesh, Benares
and enters the Ganga Sagar in the Bay of Bengal. Himalayas, Ganga and the sea, only these three thoughts should occupy your mind. First, take your mind to icy Gangotri, then along the Ganga and finally to the sea. Then, take it again to the icy Gangotri.
Rotate your mind in this manner for 15 minutes.

9. Imagine that there is a fine garden with lovely flowers. In one corner there are Jasmine flowers. In another corner there are beautiful cabbage roses. In the third corner there is lady of the night. In the fourth corner there are Champak flowers. First meditate on Jasmine. Then take the mind to the rose, then to the lady of the night and finally to the Champak. Again rotate the
mind as above. Do this again and again for 15 minutes. Gross meditation like this will prepare the mind for finer abstract meditation on subtle ideas.

10. Have a picture of the mantra AUM in front of you, or use a yantra. Concentrate on it. Perform Trataka on it (steady gazing
at it without blinking until tears flow profusely). This is both Saguna and Nirguna meditation (with and without attributes).


Vajrasattva
(spiritual purification)

11. Here is an abstract meditation on Nirguna Brahman. Repeat ‘Om‘ mentally with Bhava (feeling). Associate the ideas of SatchitanandaPurity, Perfection, All-joy I am, All-bliss I am’ in your mind.

12. There is no world. There is no body or mind. There is only one Chaitanya (pure consciousness). I am that pure consciousness. This is Nirguna meditation (without
attributes).

13. Deny, negate or throw out the Koshas (the five sheaths or bodies) and identify with the one Essence that lies behind them.

14. Meditate. Purify your mind. Practice concentration in a solitary room. Then reflect upon the Upanishads and the Gita in your mind. Do not depend upon imperfect commentaries. If you are sincere you will understand the real Sankalpa (thoughts) of the Rishis (sages) of the Upanishads, what they really meant when they uttered those wise Slokas (verses) found in
the scriptures.

15. Unfold the Divinity that is hiding in your heart by concentration and meditation. Do not waste your time. Meditate. Do not lose even a single minute. Meditation will remove all the misery from your life. Meditation is the enemy of the mind that is constantly chattering. It brings about Mano-nasa or the annihilation of that mind.

Adapted from Swami Sivananda – “Easy Steps on Yoga”