(harmony and equality)
(a) What Is Meditation
1. Meditation is the flow of continuous thought on one thing. Meditation is the keeping up of one idea alone like the continuous flow of oil. Yogins call this Dhyana. Bhaktas call this adoration. Concentration is fixing the mind on a point or object, either internal (in the body) or external (on any outside object or image). Meditation follows concentration. In Dhyana all worldly thoughts are shut out from the mind. The mind is filled or saturated with Divine thoughts, with the Divine Glory, the Divine Presence.
2. Have a separate meditation-room under lock and key. Do not allow anybody to enter the room. Keep it holy. Burn incense in the morning and evening. Keep an icon of God or your Guru. Place your chair in front of the picture. Also, keep some spiritual books such as the Yoga Sutras and other scriptures inside the room. When you are in deep meditation the powerful vibrations produced will be lodged in the ether of the room. In six months time you will feel a lot of peace and purity within the atmosphere of the room. Whenever your mind is disturbed by worldly events, sit in the room and repeat a Mantra for half an hour; you will find that a change will take place within your mind immediately. Practice and feel the soothing spiritual influence it will have on yourself. Nothing compares to spiritual Sadhana. It will create a sacred place in your own house.
3. Solitude and intense meditation are two important requirements for Self-realization. A place of pilgrimage, a Himalayan scenery, a lovely flower-garden, a sacred temple, these are the places which elevate the mind for concentration and meditation. Use them when necessary.
4. A cool place and a mild climate are indispensable for concentration. Just as salt melts in water, the Sattvic (pure) mind melts in silence during meditation with the Absolute.
(perfect spiritual mirroring)
5. Get up at 4 in the morning (the hour of Brahmamuhurta). It is very favourable for spiritual contemplation and devotional practices. Early in the morning the mind is calm, pure and quite refreshed after sleep. The mind is like a blank sheet of paper and comparatively free from worldly Samskaras (mental impressions). It can be moulded very easily at this time. The atmosphere also is charged with more Sattva (purity, light) at this particular time. Wash your hands, feet and face with cold water if you find it difficult to take a bath. This will suffice.
6. Always choose the part of the day or night when your mind is clear and when you are least likely to be disturbed. The mind will be calmer and more maleable at this time.
7. You can enjoy the results of a good meditation on Sundays because this is a holiday, and the mind feels free. Therefore you should do some vigorous meditations on Sundays. Meditation results will also improve when you live on milk and fruits alone or when you fast. Use common sense and try to obtain the best results in meditation.
(d) Where to Concentrate
9. The seat of your mind is Ajna Chakra at Trikuti. The mind can be easily controlled if you concentrate on Trikuti. Bhaktas (devotees) should concentrate on the heart. Yogins should concentrate on Ajna Chakra.
10. The crown of the head ( Sahasrara ) is another great place for concentration. Some Vedantins concentrate here. Some Yogins concentrate on the tip of the nose (Nasikagra Drishti). Stick to one center in concentration. Cling to it tenaciously. If you concentrate on heart, stick to it. Never change it. Your guru will select the center your should concentrate on, if you are a student of the faith. If you are a man who likes to be self-reliant, you can select it for yourself.
(e) Yogic Diet
11. Try to uphold a Sattvic diet. Overloading the stomach with rice, vegetables and bread brings sleep and interferes with your Sadhana (spiritual practice). Lazy people cannot practice meditation. A diet of milk makes the body feel very light. You can sit in one Asana for hours at a time with ease and comfort. If you feel weak, you can eat a little rice and milk or barley and milk or any foods found in a light diet. Those who are in the field of service and who give lectures and perform other intense spiritual activities need solid, substantial food.
12. Asana (yogic posture) steadies the body; Bandhas (contractions) and Mudras (attitudes) strengthen the mind; Pranayama (breath control) makes the body feel light; Nadi -suddhi (purification of the energy paths) produces steadiness of the mind. Having acquired these qualifications you now have to fix your mind on the Absolute. Then meditation will be easy and will make you actually make happy. For meditation, concentration and Japa (verbal repetition of a mantra), Padmasana (the lotus position) or Siddhasana (the perfect position) are highly recommended. For your general health and to help you maintain Brahmacharya; Brahmacharyasana, Shirshasana, Sarvangasana, Matsyasana and Paschimottanasana are very useful.
adapted from Swami Sivananda – “Easy Steps on Yoga”