(transmutation and sublimation of the sexual potential)

1. Laziness (Alasya) and fickleness of mind are two great obstacles in meditation. A light Sattvic diet and the practice of Pranayama (breath control) will remove laziness. Do not overload the stomach. As soon as you decide to do something, you must carry it out promptly at any cost. Thus, you will remove the fickleness of the mind and develop willpower.

2. Pray. Combat lust and ambition, the two chief obstacles in Yogic practice. Discipline the body, mind and Indriyas. Sit. Abstain from worldly objects. Concentrate. Meditate. Realize.

3. A social nature is good for doing Karma Yoga, but it is extremely bad for practicing Dhyana Yoga. It drags you out. It makes your mind restless. It invites many friends who disturb you in a variety of ways.

4. Rajas and Tamas try to obstruct meditation. The mind that was calm owing to the preponderance of Sattva during the course of meditation begins to tremble and quiver if an excess of Rajas starts to manifest. Sankalpas (thoughts) increase in number. Restlessness increases. Thoughts of action manifest. Planning and scheming come in. So, you should take a little rest. Do some Japa. Pray and meditate. Take a little walk.

(compassion and wisdom)

5. Laya , Vikshepa , Kashaya and Rasasvada are the other four obstacles. Laya is sleepiness. Vikshepa is excessive tossing of mind from one object to another object. This is the excessive monkey-nature of the mind. Kashaya is Goodha Vasana (hidden subtle desires). Rasasvada is the bliss of Savikalpa Samadhi (lower Samadhi). This is an obstacle so long as it prevents you from enjoying the Highest Nirvikalpa Bliss. Vichara, discrimination, prayer, Pranayama, further earnestness and struggle in meditation will remove these four obstacles.

6. Samsaya Bhavana (doubt), Asambhavana (another kind of doubt) and Vipareeta Bhavana (wrong feeling that I am the body) are three other obstacles. Sravana (hearing of the scriptures) will remove Samsaya Bhavana. Manana (meditation) will remove Asambhavana. Nididhyasana (another kind of meditation) and Sakshatkara (realization) will remove Vipareeta Bhavana.

7. Disease, indifference of the mind, Bhranti, imaginary fear, tendency of the mind to run outside in order to enjoy various objects, drowsiness and falling from a particular elevated state in spiritual Sadhana are some other types of obstacles. Carefulness, lack of thoughts, increased Vairagya, rest and intense application of Sadhana will remove these obstacles as well.

8. Just as clouds screen and obstruct the sun, the cloud of sickness, the cloud of gloom and despair will stand in the way of your practice. Even then you must not leave the practice of Japa, concentration and meditation. These small clouds of sickness and despair will pass soon. Maintain the suggestion: Even this will pass away constantly in your mind. Just as you should not leave your food outside even for a day, so you should not forget to perform your spiritual practice even for a day. The mind is always ready to deceive you and to stop you from this practice. Ignore the shrill voice of the mind. Hear instead the sweet, peaceful voice of the soul.

9. Never wrestle with the mind. Do not use any violent efforts in concentration. Relax all muscles and nerves. Relax the brain. Gently think of the Lord. Slowly repeat your Mantra with Bhava and meaning. Still the bubbling mind. Silence the thoughts.

Tripura Sundari
(divine beauty and love)

10. Make no violent efforts to control the mind, but rather allow it to run along for a while and exhaust its efforts. It will take advantage of the opportunity and will jump around like an unchained monkey at first, until it gradually slows down and looks to you for orders. It may take some time to calm down at first, but each time you try, it will come under your control in a fairly short time.

11. If evil thoughts enter the mind do not use your will power in driving them away. You will only lose your energy . You will only tax your will. You will fatigue yourself. The greater the efforts you make, the more evil thoughts will return with even more force. They will return quicker as well. These thoughts will become more powerful. Be indifferent. Keep quiet. They will pass by soon. Or, you can substitute good counter thoughts (Pratipaksha Bhavana method), or you can think of the picture of God and repeat the Mantra again forcibly, or you can even pray.

12. Splash cold water in your face to drive off drowsiness. Stand up for 15 minutes. Or lean upon an improvised swing for 10 minutes and move yourself to and fro. Do 10 or 20 mild Kumbhaka Pranayamas. Do Sirshasana or Mayurasana. Eat only milk and fruits at night. Through these methods you can combat sleep. Stroll about for 10 minutes. Keep a candle burning if sleep continues to bother you.

13. Often, depression comes in meditation for neophytes owing to the effect of previous Samskaras, influence of astral entities, evil spirits, bad company, cloudy days, poor digestion and loaded bowels. It must be removed quickly by cheerful thoughts, a brisk walk, singing, laughing, prayer, Pranayama etc.

(travel in any spiritual realm)

14. When a bee finds itself with its feet stuck in honey, it slowly licks its feet several times and then flies away with joy. Thus, you should extricate yourself from the minds sticking and clinging to this body owing to Raga and Moha (attachment and attraction) through Vairagya (dispassion) and meditation, thus you will be able to fly away with joy from this cage of flesh and bone to the source, to Brahman or the Absolute.

15. No more words. Enough discussions and heated debates. Retire into a solitary room. Close your eyes. Perform a deep and silent meditation. Feel His Presence. Repeat His Name, Om, with fervour, joy and love. Fill your heart with Prema (love). Destroy the Sankalpas (thoughts), whims, fancies and desires when they arise from the surface of the mind. Withdraw the wandering mind and fix it upon the Lord. Now Nishtha (meditation), will become deep and intense. Do not open your eyes. Do not stir from your seat. Merge with Him. Dive deep into the innermost recess of your heart. Plunge into the shining soul (Atman) within. Drink the nectar of Immortality. Enjoy the silence. Nectars son! Rejoice. Be at peace. Feel the glory!

adapted from Swami Sivananda – “Easy Steps on Yoga”