Sitting still is vital for meditation as only through stillness can one achieve concentration. Yet for many of us this becomes quite a challenge. Not fidgeting in a forty-five minute satsang is hard enough, let alone two and a half hours during meditation. It’s almost like going to the gym for the first time and starting off on the treadmill. We think we can easily run for twenty minutes so we set this as our target. In the beginning we have a lot of energy, however ten minutes down the line, we are sweating, out of breath and completely exhausted. Every minute after that seems eternal. Similar is the case with our meditation, we start off with a lot of enthusiasm and with determination to keep still for as long as possible. However, after a while, we may have an urgency to move and every minute after that can seem a struggle.
A good trainer at a gym will advise that it is best not to over exert the body. Stamina is built slowly, by adding a little extra time to that achieved in the previous session. The same is applicable to keeping still; it’s not possible to achieve the target in a day or two. We too require constant training. We have to slowly build on the time we have achieved and persistent effort in our daily practice will eventually help us to achieve our target.
At the gym, if we exercise regularly for a few weeks, we will feel much healthier and build our stamina. However, if we then stop exercising, our stamina level will drop and it will be difficult to exercise for the same length of time as we did before. In a similar manner, it is important to persevere and attend to our meditation regularly, gradually increasing the time we give to our practice, without any breaks.
A fitness instructor would also stress the importance of posture when carrying out exercises. A bad posture can result in an injury when lifting weights. Posture is also important in meditation.
When sitting for meditation, it is important to sit in a relaxed position with the spine and neck straight. The chin can be slightly tucked in but not so much that it drops forward. Also, the head should not be tilted backwards or forwards. Both positions might induce us to fall asleep. The eyes should be closed and the attention held in the middle of the eyebrows at the spiritual eye centre. Be careful not to invert the eyes towards the eye centre. The hands can face upwards or downwards and can rest naturally on the knees or thighs. Our whole body should be at ease.
Meditation is an activity that involves both our mind and our body. If we don’t adopt a posture that supports and helps the process of meditation, we will be obstructing our meditation practice. The important thing is to sit with our body motionless and our back upright and straight. This will help both our concentration and our health. It is not important whether we sit on a chair, Western style or cross legged on the floor, Indian style; both are fine ways to meditate.
Another interesting similarity between running on the treadmill and our meditation is that when we are conscious of the countdown meter/clock, our target time seems unachievable. It is much easier to exercise when we are not constantly looking at the time and waiting for our session to end. A similar tactic can be used whilst meditating: if we too become oblivious of the time by focusing on the words we are repeating when meditating, the question “How long left?” will not be a barrier anymore, and our target will seem more achievable.
After each exercise session, we are advised to stretch our muscles gently to prevent injury. After each session of meditation, we are instructed to attend to our bhajan practice. The stillness and concentration obtained during meditation will make our souls more receptive to the Shabd. However, to experience the Shabd within, a certain level of concentration and stillness has to be reached. The Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu said that the greatest revelation is stillness.
Have all the problems of life ever been solved by any one? If we go on creating them and then continue worrying about them, then where is the time left for meditation ? The mind will never be stilled and become motionless if this continues. It has the evil habit of first creating problems and then when it cannot solve them it starts worrying. This it goes on doing the whole lifetime. We have to stop the mind from this vicious habit and tell it to live within the Will of the Lord.
Our destiny is all marked out and we have to reap what we have sown, then why worry ? Face life cheerfully, doing the best you can under the circumstances and leave the rest to the Lord. Our conscience should be clear and then there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Life will always go on like this in this world. This life is made up of both good and bad karmas, hence these ups and downs. Try to rise above them by keeping your thoughts in Him and His meditation. This will give you that happiness you are looking for and will develop into still greater bliss.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Quest for Light