Baba Ji has advised that we practise sitting as still as possible during meditation. If we still the body, it will help the mind and emotions to be calm and settled, creating a firm base for concentrated meditation.
The formation of a good base is directly linked to the four principles he advises us to live by in order to progress from chaos to peaceful stillness, allowing our connection to God. Being vegetarian, eschewing alcohol and drugs and living a moral life calm us and instill tranquility. When we achieve this calm and relaxed base, our meditation practice is more likely to flow.
But we can go a step further. If we are following the four principles but are spending our free time chatting too much, rushing around and mindlessly doing unnecessary activities because we are afraid of boredom, or if we get caught up with unnecessary social trends, then it is much more difficult to bring the mind into focus. It will become over-active, filled with worldly thoughts, and the body will become restless which can cause us to fidget during satsang and also during meditation. Even when we do seva, many of us forget to keep in mind who we are doing it for – our Master. We forget our simran and get too involved with each other on a personal, social, and emotional level. We often do need to support one an-other when we are at seva, but we should avoid getting carried away, losing the opportunity to practise seva with stillness and tranquility.
Stillness does not just mean practising silence, not moving or thinking. It means avoiding any unnecessary action that takes away our attention from the Lord.
The Sufi mystic, Bu Ali Qalandar said, “When you have emptied yourself by constant remembrance, you will find the path which leads to the presence of the Lord.”
In Psalm 46 in the Bible we read, “Be still and know that I am God.”
Rumi said, “Although I may try to describe love, when I experience it I am speechless.”
To Mother Teresa are attributed the words, “God speaks in the silence of the heart.”
These are the words of enlightened souls who spoke from their own experience, so it is worth experimenting with their valuable advice. Once we try it out for ourselves we will soon feel the benefits and then gain confidence to continue, knowing that it will help improve our spiritual life and create a calm atmosphere.
Lasting stillness cannot be maintained by just working on a physical, emotional and mental level. The mind and senses need a more positive force to keep them stable and still. There are many techniques and therapies used to try to achieve stillness because people now realize that excess activity has a detrimental effect on our wellbeing, in particular the overuse of cell phones, electronic devices, digital entertainment, and frequent travel. Some try special exercises to calm themselves; others try breathing, medication, diet, excursions to lonely places, and so on. These all do give some temporary relief from the wayward mind and senses but don’t give the everlasting peace that can come from love and devotion to a true Master and the practice of simran he gives to us.
Why is this? Simply because our mind and emotions have such negative habits and tendencies that we cannot, by ourselves, manage to change them. For permanent spiritual benefit we need the grace and help of a Master who is above all negative influences. Weakened by our desires, it is as if we are buried in a dark ditch, unable to see the way out. The Master has been sent by the Lord to help us. That is his mission and duty, and he never neglects it for a second. He not only gives us the tools – the four principles – so we can pull ourselves out, but he constantly refreshes our willpower and motivation to continue this demanding task. That is why he gives us articles and books to read, and the seva and the satsangs which implore us never to give up.
Stillness does not mean doing nothing – not putting in effort and expecting the Master to do it all. It does not tell us to be passive and just accept our situation. It means using the tools of simran and bhajan calmly and quietly with faithful balance. Stillness does not mean we undertake extreme actions; it asks that we ignore the unnecessary suggestions of the mind that steal our opportunities to commune with the divine. On a practical level Baba Ji suggests we should do our simran whenever possible during the day so that the mind has no opportunity to take us away from the path of devotion to the Master.
Maharaj Sawan Singh explains, “To remove from the mind all desires for the things of the world and to turn the mind towards the Lord alone is devotion.”
Only the living Master can teach us the technique to achieve devotion and give us the energy and willpower to maintain the practice. But it is our responsibility to be ready in our stillness and prepare ourselves to receive his divine help with love and gratitude.