Why do we meditate? We meditate because this world of ours has not been able to fulfil us. The so-called peace that we feel in our day-to-day life is five minutes of peace after ten hours of anxiety, worry and frustration. We are constantly at the mercy of the negative forces that are all around us: jealousy, fear, doubt, worry, anxiety and despair. These forces are like monkeys. When they get tired of biting us and take rest for a few minutes, then we say that we are enjoying peace. But this is not real peace at all, and the next moment they will attack us again.
It is only through meditation that we can get lasting peace, divine peace. If we meditate soulfully in the morning and receive peace for only one minute, that one minute of peace will permeate our whole day. And when we have a meditation of the highest order, then we get really abiding peace, light and delight. We need meditation because we want to grow in light and fulfil ourselves in light. If this is our aspiration, if this is our thirst, then meditation is the only way.
If we feel that we are satisfied with what we have and what we are, then there is no need for us to enter into the field of meditation. The reason we enter into meditation is because we have an inner hunger. We feel that within us there is something luminous, something vast, something divine. We feel that we need this thing very badly; only right now we do not have access to it. Our inner hunger comes from our spiritual need.
When you meditate at home, set aside a corner of your room which you can make absolutely pure and sanctified – a sacred place that you use only for meditation.
For your daily meditation, it is best to meditate alone. Before beginning your meditation, it is helpful to take a shower or proper bath. It is also advisable to wear clean and light clothes.
To follow the spiritual life, you should meditate at least once a day. It is best to meditate early in the morning when the atmosphere is calm and peaceful.
When meditating, it is important to keep the spine straight and erect, and to keep the body relaxed. You will find that your inner being will spontaneously take you to a conformable position; it is up to you to maintain it.
Some seekers like to meditate while laying down, but this is not advisable.You may enter into a world of sleep or into a kind of inner doze. Again, the lotus position, which is an advanced yoga posture, is not necessary for proper meditation. Many people meditate very well while they are seated in a chair.
It will help if you burn incense and candles and keep some flowers in front of you. The outer flower will remind you of the flower inside your heart.
When you smell the scent of incense, you will gain inspiration and purification to add to your inner treasure. When you see the outer flame, immediately you will feel your inner flame climbing high, higher, highest.
Proper breathing is very important in meditation. When breathing, try to inhale as slowly and quietly as possible, so that if somebody placed a tiny thread in front of your nose, it would not move at all. And try to exhale more slowly still. If possible, leave a short pause between the end of your exhalation and the beginning of your inhalation. If you can, hold your breath for a few seconds. But if it is difficult, do not do it. Never do anything that will harm your organs or respiratory system.
Each time you breathe in, try to feel that you are bringing into your body infinite peace. When you breathe out, try to feel that you are expelling the restlessness within and all around you. After practicing this a few times, try to feel that you are inhaling power from the universe. When you exhale, feel that all your fear is leaving your body. After doing this a few times, try to feel that what you are breathing in is infinite joy, and what you are breathing out is sorrow, suffering and depression.
There is also something else you can try. Feel that you are breathing in not air, but cosmic energy. Feel that there is not a single place in your body that is not being filled by cosmic energy. It is flowing like a river inside you, washing and purifying your whole being. Then when you start to breathe out, feel that you are breathing out all the rubbish inside you – all your undivine thoughts, obscure ideas and impure actions.
Meditation does not mean just sitting quietly for five or ten minutes. It requires conscious effort. The mind has to be made calm and quiet. At the same time, it has to be vigilant so as not to allow any distracting thoughts or desires to enter. When we can make the mind calm and quiet, we will feel that a new creation is dawning inside us. When the mind is vacant and tranquil and our whole existence becomes an empty vessel, our inner being can invoke infinite peace, light and bliss to enter into the vessel and fill it. This is meditation.
By: Sri Chinmoy