In this talk originally presented live to participants of the Integral Yoga Silent Retreat, Rev. Paraman Barsel shares his insight into the practice of meditation. As part of the talk, the particpating students were given a handout of helpful guidlines which is reproduced below.
Tips on Meditation
Rev. Paraman Barsel
● “Meditation is the Key to Everything” — Sri Swami Satchidananda
● Focusing the mind on any one thing that you love reduces the vrittis — waves in the mind — from a great many to one.
● Eventually one becomes none.
● When the mind has fewer waves it reflects your True Self of Unending Peace, Joy, Love, and Light better and better.
● So the best indicator of progress in meditation is that you feel lighter and more peaceful and happy throughout your day.
● For meditation to be really successful it must be practiced well for a long time, without break, and with full enthusiasm, love, and confidence.
● Of these, satkara — the enthusiasm, zeal, love and full confidence is most important, because it drives the rest.
● To develop satkara draw strength from others on the path through inspirational study, reminding yourself daily of the benefits of meditation, and congregating with like-minded seekers.
● One way to become established in regular practice is to pick a minimum amount that you know you can do even on your “worst day” and then do it no matter what. This becomes an anchor for your whole spiritual life and grows organically more and more.
● There is complete freedom in what you choose as your object of meditation. You can focus on a visual image, an enlightening dream, a spiritual teacher, your own breath, or anything you like as long as you find it uplifting.
● For many the easiest and best object of meditation is repetition of a mantra like Om, Om Shanthi, Hari Om, Om Namah Sivaaya (these are just a few examples of universal mantras).
● Mantra repetition can be combined with the breath to great advantage.
● Details of meditation practice, guided meditations, and routines can be found in Sri Swami Satchidananda’s CD and booklet on Meditation. Another great resource is the book Awaken: Inside Yoga Meditation by Rev. Jaganath Carrera.
● Progress is much greater if you stick to one thing rather than switching a lot.
● Practice is well attended to when you take care to bring the mind back gently to the object of meditation when you notice that it has wandered.
● Don’t worry about the wandering, gently bringing the mind back is the practice; it is this that develops the strength of mind.
● If distractions are persistent try ignoring them. If this doesn’t work, stop and analyze the distraction and remind it of the benefit of your practice. Ask the distraction to wait until after your sitting.
● Taking a sankalpa — firm resolve — to not move during your sitting is one of the greatest aids to meditation practice. Vow not to move no matter what, but only when you are absolutely certain of your capacity so that strain and injury are not possible.
● You can develop comfort in your chosen meditation asana through Hatha Yoga, through your sitting itself, and through finding your center of gravity in cross-legged postures by rocking slightly from right to left until you feel even weight on both buttocks, and rocking slightly forward and back until you feel that your legs are neither lifting up nor having more weight forward on them.
● The other greatest aid to meditation is pranayama — when the breath is slow and even the mind is naturally focused. Kapalabhati or bhastrika followed by nadi suddhi or sukha purvaka are perfect practices as preliminaries to meditation. They energize and balance the system.
● Another great aid is kirtan — chanting. A little chanting of Hari Om is a great final step before silent meditation.
● Preparation for meditation is more than half the battle. Prepare well and
meditation grows more and more effortless. Ultimately how you live your entire life becomes your preparation and your meditation. Let how you walk, how you talk, how you eat, how you sleep, how you interact with others all be peaceful, nonviolent, loving, and balanced. Then you are already meditating when you sit for formal practice.
● “All your practices can be joyful celebrations. So take it easy, but don’t be lazy.” — Sri Swami Satchidananda
● Remember it’s all for fun, even the difficulties and failures!
● Other aids include facing north or east, having light clothing that you only wear for meditation, sitting before dawn, at sunrise, noon, sunset, or midnight, using a mala for mantra repetition, and sitting at an altar of your own uplifting design reserved just for meditation.
● None of these aids is essential for meditation. Lack of any or all of them is no reason not to meditate.
● “Whenever you feel a little peaceful, close your eyes and meditate for a few minutes.” — Sri Swami Satchidananda
● Dedicate your meditation to the good of all. End your sitting with prayers for peace for all. See your meditation as a service to God and all of creation. Give it all away and you will be the happiest person.
● Always remember that your sitting practice is just that — practice for the rest of your life. Walking in love, light, joy, and peace is the real meditation. Your whole life is your meditation. Focus whole-heartedly on now and you will be a blessing to all around you.
Learn more about Rev. Paraman Barsel