The practice of meditation - Living Meditation

5  The practice of meditation

Be still, and know that I am God.
Psalms 46:10

The instant we sit for meditation is the moment we actually begin to tread the path of the saints. In that very moment all concepts are left behind and experience begins.

It is while we are sitting in meditation that we will come to the eye centre, make the mind motionless, go within, meet the Radiant Form, realize our deathless Self and achieve God-realization. All will happen while we are meditating. That is why it is said that meditating is action and meditating is enlightenment. Every time we sit in meditation we are doing the most important task a human being is capable of: that of completely transforming our character and consciousness.

Therefore, we should not believe our mind or society and feel guilty when they tell us: “Don’t just sit there, do something.” Rather, we should say: “Don’t just do something, sit there!” The true value of meditation is kept hidden from others.

Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself.
Zen saying

It is by sitting for meditation that we empower our soul, receive spiritual nourishment, become spiritually strong to face the world and learn to make contact with the Shabd within. By sitting still we learn to surrender, to endure, to be patient and to accept the way of Shabd. By submitting to our Master’s instructions to meditate, we nurture the seed of real humility, which is to live in his will. When we achieve a meditative state of mind, what can irritate us or shake our balance? In the midst of swirling activity, catastrophes or good fortune we remain unshakable, content and happy in our stillness at the eye centre. Such is the power of meditation. How can there be a more important activity in our day than sitting for meditation?


There is no ‘right way’ to prepare for meditation, but there are many things we can do that will make our journey easier. Throughout the day we can prepare ourselves for meditation by doing simran whenever possible and by keeping the Master and the teachings in front of us in our various worldly activities. Then, our meditation practice will be the culmination of a whole day spent in a meditative atmosphere, and when we sit for our practice, it will be easier for us to concentrate at the eye centre.

To create a state of mind that is conducive to meditation, we can consciously try to abstain from anything that promotes anger, lust, tension and so forth. These things make strong impressions on the mind. We will discover that when we sit for meditation they will be the first things that will come to our mind and we will have to expend energy and time casting them out. Whenever possible, if these situations do arise, we can remember that our meditation will suffer if we indulge ourselves in them. Remembering this point, we should let them go.

Some people jump directly from bed to their meditation place. They take advantage of the sleepy state from which they find it easier to bring their attention to the eye centre. This is not always easily accomplished because the attention can drop to the throat centre and one again falls asleep. To prevent this from happening many choose to get their blood circulating by doing some form of exercise. Others prefer to splash water on their face or to take a shower. Still others prepare themselves by having a cup of tea or coffee. The important thing is that we are alert and fully awake. Then it will be easier to concentrate and we will be less likely to fall asleep.

To help prepare the mind for meditation some people like to read an inspirational book or article, or to begin meditation with a small prayer. As we all know, it takes time to settle the mind. The words our Master has given us for simran are the ideal tool to calm our mind, so we may dive right into our meditation. What better way to pray, to calm the mind and to instil an attitude of love and devotion than to use the words our Master has given us for that purpose?

As part of the preparation for our morning meditation, we can start the night before by having a light dinner and by going to bed early. When we go to bed, we can fall asleep doing our simran. In this way when we wake up we will find it easier to concentrate in meditation. Whatever we do to support our practice, Baba Ji advises us to be careful not to turn meditation into a ritual, into something that we do every day without even thinking why we do it. When preparing to get started in our meditation practice we can remember why it is that we meditate and what our goal is.


Any time is a good time to start our meditation. If we wait for conditions to be ideal we might never sit for meditation. All times provide a good opportunity to calm and purify the mind, so we may do our meditation at any time of the day. For some people the best time to meditate is in the evening. At that time they feel more alert and, in order to get a relaxing sleep and to wake up invigorated and purified, they decide that evening meditation is best for them. Others are so tired at night that they are ready to sleep. For them the morning is the best time to meditate. At that time the mind is fresh and one is not burdened with responsibilities. In the early hours everybody is sleeping, the worries of the day have not yet started and there is no noise outside. For these reasons it may be easier to devote two and a half hours to meditation in the early morning because our worldly responsibilities make it hard for us to sit at some later time of the day. Nevertheless, some people prefer to meditate in the middle of the morning or afternoon.

In reality, the best time to meditate is the time we find best. We should evaluate the different aspects and responsibilities of our lives and then make our decision about which time is best for us, but we should try, if possible, to sit at the same time each day. If we decide to do our formal meditation practice in the morning, then we should try to give some additional time at night before we go to bed. If we choose to do our formal meditation at night, then we should try to give some additional time to sit in the morning as well. What better way to begin or end the day than by thanking the Master and letting go of all other agendas to be in touch with the source of peace and joy that is within ourselves?

To get full advantage of the atmosphere that is created by morning meditation, it is better that we do not go to sleep after meditation. If, for instance, we begin our morning meditation at 3:00 a.m. and our daily activities begin at 8:00 a.m. and in the gap between 5:30 and 8:00 in the morning we go to sleep, we might consider beginning our meditation at 5:30 a.m. instead of at 3:00 a.m. In this way there will be no gap between our meditation practice and our daily routine, and we can derive maximum benefit from the atmosphere created by our morning meditation. But in this area there are no hard and fast rules because meditation is good whether we sleep afterwards or whether we don’t. It is up to each one of us to see what works best for us.


If we don’t have a special place to sit for meditation, we can try to find a comfortable one that is conducive to our practice. Any place will do. It will be helpful to sit in the same place, because we will soon associate that place with the peace and tranquillity of meditation, and we may find that our mind concentrates easier when such an association is made. Although it is desirable that the place is quiet and that we practise alone, sometimes our life situation does not allow us to have privacy. If that is our case and the only way we can meditate is by doing it in front of others, then there is no harm in doing so. However, we should try to be as inconspicuous as possible.


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. Many people are under the impression that sitting on a chair, Western style, is not as good as sitting cross-legged. This is a mistaken notion. Meditation is a matter of concentration. Some people spend years struggling to sit cross-legged, Indian style, and all the time that should have been devoted to concentration is spent with the attention on the legs, the pain or the cushions. The result is that such people spend less time in meditation than they would have if they had chosen to sit in a more comfortable position.

The mind cannot become calm and still if the body is constantly moving, just as water cannot be still in a glass that is moved. If we still the body we are helping to still our mind, so it is important to find a position in which we minimize the pain or discomfort that prompts us to shift uneasily every few minutes. If that means it is easier for us to sit on a sofa or a chair, then we can sit in that position, provided we sit upright and with the back straight. Not only is slouching detrimental for the back and more tiring after some time, it also prompts the mind to slouch, when it should be in an alert and poised state. It is not advised that we lie down because it is easier to fall asleep in such a position. We may experiment with different physical postures until we find the one that permits us to sit the maximum time without discomfort or falling asleep.

In no other position is the link between mind and body as clear as it is in our meditation posture. When we are depressed or lazy our back is hunched over and our head is hanging down. If we make the effort to sit upright, we shake off laziness and even pessimism. When we sit upright, it is difficult to have self-pity or to be negative. By assuming an upright posture, we inspire our mind to be awake and alert. If our posture and attitude are inspired, it becomes easier to concentrate and to enjoy our meditation. For bhajan (listening to the Shabd), we can sit in the squatting position, or cross-legged with the help of an arm support, or on a chair resting our elbows on a table or other arm support. The use of ear plugs is not advised by the Master.

Sometimes when we have been sitting for a period of time we feel a slight discomfort and want to move. We should continue to sit through this urge to move and discover how it is perfectly possible to resist the need to move or to scratch. Our mind has been trained to react immediately to anything that it dislikes. Expect the mind to fight and the body to become restless. The mind and the body are being trained to obey, and they don’t like it. The body and the mind will not want to be confined, but we should keep holding the reins on them. After some time they will give in.

Baba Ji gives the following example to illustrate the importance of being still during meditation. He says that if we pick up a glass of water from a table and then place it back on the table, the water still continues to move even though the glass is not moving anymore. He calls this ‘the ripple effect’. Likewise, if we move our body when we are meditating, even if it is a slight movement, that is enough to send ripples through the mind that disturb any calmness achieved. However, if we gently keep our mind on the words and do not move, soon we will experience how stilling the body helps to still and calm the mind, and, conversely, how stilling the mind helps to still the body. With the stillness of both body and mind, we begin to enjoy the peace that comes from concentration in meditation.


Meditation means trying to hold our attention at the eye centre and not let it come down to the senses. That is concentration, to keep the mind steady at the eye centre and not let it come down.
Maharaj Charan Singh

Baba Ji says that the mind is like a computer: whatever we download into it, that is what we get. We input data of the physical world, and the mind collects impressions of material things. We input data of spirituality and the mind collects impressions of subtle things. The mind works equally well in both spheres. In meditation, we do not alter the nature of the mind, we simply input spiritual impressions and override worldly ones. In time, by the practice of concentrated meditation, the spiritual impressions will displace the worldly ones, replacing worldly desires by spiritual ones. In this way, the mind is automatically purified as it increasingly concentrates its attention inwards and upwards.

Concentration is similar to setting alight a piece of paper with a magnifying glass. A magnifying glass is held in such a way as to catch the sun’s scattered rays and concentrate them onto a piece of paper. These little rays, when dispersed, are weak and harmless, but when collected together, held steady and focused through the magnifying glass, they become powerful enough to ignite the paper. One has to hold the glass very still, as any shaking will disturb the central point where the rays focus, and interrupt the process of generating heat sufficient to set the paper alight. When the glass has been held for some time a brilliant point appears on the paper, and if the point is held constant, it finally bursts into a flame.

In the same way, we are to collect every ray of our attention and focus it, without wavering, at the eye centre, until the intensity of our concentration in the simran kindles the Flame at the eye centre within. As we prolong our period of concentration, more and more of our attention gathers at the eye centre, and we become receptive to the inner Sound.

To understand what meditation is, we must understand the importance of concentration. Focused meditation will transform the way we perceive things and the way we live our life. Spiritual progress depends upon making the mind still at the eye centre, and concentration is what makes the mind still. Concentrated simran is the best way to train the mind to ‘sit’ at the eye centre. Our minds are used to jumping from one object to another, so to train the mind to concentrate on simran is a difficult task, but not an impossible one.

Concentrate on keeping your mind in the presence of the Lord; if it sometimes wanders and withdraws itself from Him, do not let it upset you; confusion serves rather to distract the mind than to recollect it; the will must bring it back calmly.
Brother Lawrence

We struggle in meditation because our attention is not concentrated in the simran, it is thinking about the world. From the moment we were born, the mind has come out of the eye focus and has been working outside. The outward tendency of the mind has become a very deep-rooted habit. We have to struggle to reverse this process if we are to concentrate our attention at the eye centre.

It is all a question of discipline, training and habit. Our concentration in meditation is in direct proportion to the degree to which we can detach ourselves from this world. We cannot pierce the darkness within because our attention has always been, and still is, caught up with our body, our attachments, neuroses and passions outside. Unless we develop detachment from everything outside and the capacity to concentrate within ourselves at the eye centre, we can make but little progress on the path. If we allow ourselves to indulge our physical nature, then, when we sit for meditation, our mind will get tossed about like a ship on a stormy sea and we will find we simply cannot concentrate. We then see for ourselves how an outward orientation scatters the attention, and how many of our actions and thoughts stand between us and concentration.

There is only one way to achieve concentration in meditation. We have to be ready to invert our outward and downward tendencies. We need to bring them inwards and upwards, through constant simran, to the eye centre, the seat of the soul.

The seat of the soul

The third eye is the seat of the mind and soul. This is the pivotal point that holds the mystery of life. It is from here that our attention continually descends and spreads into the world through the nine outlets of the body … From here every minute the mind wanders out. It does not sit still at this spot even for a moment. Its activities are legion. The ageless secret, the ancient wisdom, the path of the saints lies in drawing the attention back to this point.
Maharaj Charan Singh

To invert the process by which our attention runs downwards into the world, the first thing we have to do is to locate the place in the vessel of our consciousness from where our attention leaks out. This place is what we know as the eye centre, the spiritual eye, the third eye or the seat of the soul. It is a common error to think of the eye focus as having some particular location in the brain or between or behind the eyes, measurable in terms of inches, centimetres or the points of the compass. We then try to locate this focus with our eyes or thoughts by attempting to place the attention physically between the eyebrows.

When we approach meditation like this, we are very far away from the eye focus. The mind is jumping around, groping blindly for something or somewhere. It is running out by trying to think about the focus, instead of simply relaxing and being in the darkness with the eyes closed. The process of thinking indicates that the mind is scattered, while concentration at the eye focus means the absence of even the slightest twitching of thought. If we are thinking of the eye centre, it means we cannot be in it. If we are in the centre, we will not be thinking of it.

When you close your eyes, you are there where you should be. Being there, do simran, concentrate. When you close your eyes, you are nowhere outside. You are just here at the eye centre.
Maharaj Charan Singh

Throughout this book we have seen how, over and over again, all Masters emphasize the paramount importance of bringing and keeping the attention within ourselves, at the seat of the soul. In the following letter from Spiritual Gems, Master Sawan Singh explains how to do it:

Answering your question as to the best way to reach and hold the focus, I can only repeat the substance of what you already have been given … 

That method is the same as all Saints use, which is simply the concentrated attention held firmly at the given centre. What else can we say? It is all a matter of unwavering attention. Every ray of attention must be centred there and held there. If one strays away for a time, one has lost the advantage. It may be said safely that if any earnest student should hold his attention fully upon the given centre for three hours, without wavering, he must go inside. But that is not so easy without long practice. However, by and by, the mind becomes accustomed to staying in the centre. It rebels less and less, and finally yields to the demand to hold to the centre. Then your victory is won.

Before that, the mind will not remain still for a long time. It jumps around like a monkey. But after a time it will give in and settle down. It is a matter of will to hold to the centre, also not to forget nor allow the attention to go off after some other thought or experiences. One easily forgets and then the mind drops down. A keenly awakened intelligence must hold to the centre, steadily, every moment. If any thought enters the consciousness, jerk the mind back to the centre and hold it there. Make the spirit, instead of the mind, the commander of the situation. The mind is tricky and will run out if permitted. Conquer it. But to conquer it is not easy, of course, and it takes time.

The problem is not complicated at all. The whole thing is just attention, and then unbroken attention, at the eye centre, allowing no other thought to intrude itself into the consciousness and lead you away from the centre. This was the method by which I won my way inside and it is the method by which you must win your way. It is the old method of all Saints.

The reason you nearly reach it, as you say, and then lose it, is because you cannot hold the mind still. It is somewhat like a wild animal which has been accustomed to run about in the forest. When captured, it is in great distress if held still in the hands of the captor. But like that animal, by and by it will yield and obey if we persist in our efforts. The repetition of the Names is to help in holding the mind at the eye centre. That is the value of the Names … 

We must enter it if we persist. All the powers of the spirit, the real atma [soul] in man, gather at the focus by means of this concentrated thought; and then, by means of accumulated force (through bhajan and simran), we break through the curtain and enter the light.
Maharaj Sawan Singh

From concepts to experience

Unless we withdraw our attention to the eye centre, we cannot concentrate within and take even the first step of our spiritual journey Homeward.
Introduction to Die to Live

The Masters couldn’t be clearer that reaching the eye centre is the first goal on the way to achieve a higher degree of spirituality. Yet in spite of this, some will feel that now they have been initiated, they should concern themselves with nothing short of God-realization. Although our ultimate goal is clearly God-realization, to overlook the crucial steps that take us there is counterproductive and may be used as a trick against us by our clever mind. We do not yet possess absolute love, and without this ingredient we cannot merge back in Shabd and attain God-realization. Pure love is to lose our own identity and to become another being. As long as we continue to function with a strong sense of a separate self, it will be utterly impossible for us to achieve union with Shabd. God-realization, therefore, is out of the question at the stage where we are at present, so to invest in God-realization at this stage is impractical, fruitless and unrealistic.

If, for the moment, our immediate goal is not to be God-realization, then should we not be aiming at least for Self-realization? There is no doubt that before we can achieve God-realization we must first attain realization of our own true nature. But Self-realization is a very high stage in which the soul realizes what it is and cries out: “I am That, I am the Deathless Self” (Sohang). Our minds are still immersed in duality and we do not yet have the purity required to experience such a degree of realization. For the moment, then, we have to put aside the goal of Self-realization, just as we saw the wisdom of putting aside an immediate goal of God-realization.

Before we can realize what we are, we need to have contacted the spiritual form of the Master. But if we have not yet passed through the inner stars, sun and moon, we cannot have seen the Radiant Form. If that is the case, then our immediate goal should be to cross the planes that stand between us and his Radiant Form. In order to cross those planes, we need first to have pierced the barrier of the physical by dying while living – by experiencing a near-death experience while sitting consciously in meditation. This, like the glass that magnifies the sun’s rays, will happen when we collect and focus all our attention at the eye centre, and we pass to the astral plane.

So if we haven’t broken the barrier of the physical by passing through the eye centre, our first task has to be to make the mind motionless by collecting our scattered attention at the eye focus. And there, finally, we have our immediate and primary goal. The eye centre! For most of us, the eye centre is our spiritual goal and our purpose in life. To reach the eye centre and to keep our attention concentrated there is a realistic and do-able goal. The eye centre is the place we will start our journey. It has to be the only goal that concerns us. It alone provides the means by which we will gain spiritual transport.

Reaching the eye centre will give us the spiritual experience that will support an unwavering faith in the Master and the teachings. The fact that it is a more humble goal than the ultimate goal of God-realization doesn’t make it less necessary or any easier. To achieve it we will need to concentrate all our attention, love, devotion, energy, intelligence, skill and effort on the task. To reduce and still our thought waves by means of simran at the eye centre – this has to become our main concern and challenge in life.

The first step, then, is to withdraw our consciousness to the eye centre.
Introduction to Die to Live

On going inside the eye centre, we will realize that in truth we are spiritual beings, whereas without this realization, the statement that we are spiritual beings will remain forever just one more mental concept with which we decorate our mental shelves. Without first reaching the eye centre, no spiritual progress can be made. It is prudent, therefore, that before God-realization, Self-realization, the Radiant Form or the inner planes, and given the scale of the transformation we have to achieve, we make the eye centre our immediate and unmitigated goal.

So long as we remain away from this point and do not catch hold of the Sound Current, salvation remains a distant dream.
Maharaj Charan Singh

The rewards are unimaginable and the treasure is waiting for us:

Your wildest dreams or imaginings cannot picture the grandeur of what lies within. But the treasure is yours and is there for you. You can have it whenever you go there. Take it from me, and once and for all, that everything, including the Creator, is within you, and whosoever has attained it, has attained it by going inside the eye focus.
Maharaj Sawan Singh


It is possible to pray at all times, in all circumstances and in every place, and easily to rise from frequent vocal prayer to prayer of the mind and from that to prayer of the heart, which opens up the Kingdom of God within us.
Saint John Chrysostom

Baba Ji says that when we sit for meditation, we should be absolutely relaxed, start our simran and let ourselves go. Therefore, the first step in meditation is to place simran at the eye centre. It takes a deliberate act to extract our mind from its involvement with its thoughts. We have to take our mind away from its thinking and consciously contain it in simran. At the beginning of meditation, simran feels like taming a wild animal. That is why it is helpful to acknowledge that we are letting go of our involvement with the world, and say to ourselves, “Now I am letting go of my thoughts and I am placing my mind in simran.” By doing this, we begin to gather our attention together. From being spread out in every direction, we begin to draw it towards a focus that can contain it. This is a good way to start our meditation session.

If we begin in an unfocused way, our meditation continues to be unfocused throughout. Soon we are so involved with our thoughts that we are thinking instead of meditating. We are then indulging in thinking, fuelling desires, trying to make real our world of make-believe. When we recognize that we are thinking and we release those thoughts, we are remembering the teachings and challenging our mental laziness. Each time we let go of our thoughts and go back to our simran, we win a heroic and courageous victory. We are, as it were, swimming against the current, returning home to our source. We are inverting the downward tendencies of the mind; we are turning our attention upwards, to the eye centre.

Baba Ji says that doing simran is, for the soul, like untying a balloon from the string that holds it. Once the balloon is untied, it naturally starts to rise up. We cannot force our consciousness to go up. The consciousness will go up on its own as a natural result of being freed from its absorption with the world – through doing our simran.

Please make no attempt to take the soul up by force. The soul will find its own way.
Maharaj Sawan Singh

By switching our thoughts to simran, we extract ourselves from the world of concepts. We let go of the need to be endlessly entertained by our thoughts, give up our addiction to inner chattering and step out onto the path of inner peace. Our practice of simran is the time to train our minds to be still at the eye centre. If during our meditation practice we are not alert, vigilant and sharp in recognizing and releasing thoughts, we are not meditating but indulging ourselves. Thinking is not meditation. Those thoughts will gain momentum, they will become strong, and soon our meditation will be over. Instead of moving into a peaceful yet alert state of mind, we will continue living in a world of concepts, indulging the very same fantasies that till now have prevented us from knowing what it is to be fully awake and fully alive.

If, by contrast, we make an effort to keep our mind in simran, to gather our attention at the eye focus, then the soul gradually regains its power. The stronger and more effective our practice, the weaker our world of concepts will become. The stronger we become, the more real, potent and transforming our meditation practice becomes.

There is beauty in simran – in just doing it. Concentrating in simran produces a beautiful, simple joy. Once we learn to concentrate on the words, the question of boredom doesn’t arise. We don’t have to ask the Master for results. Simran is the practice and becomes in and of itself the reward. We become bored when mentally we don’t want to be where we are; when we want to skip the effort and jump to astral travelling and seeing things inside, when we ignore the opportunity to derive peace from the effort itself. We must first learn to settle the mind in simran, and stay there, enjoying the practice with gratefulness and humility. That in itself is a spiritual accomplishment. If we are able to keep the mind in simran throughout the day, we will experience its benefits within ourselves; meditation then becomes the crowning glory of a prize already in hand.

There is no mode of life in the world more pleasing and more full of delight than continual conversation with God; only those who practise and experience it can understand it.
Brother Lawrence

By the practice of placing our simran at the eye focus, we achieve peace of mind and taste for ourselves a gladness of heart that has nothing to do with external events. We develop confidence in the reasons why we meditate. We do it with enthusiasm because we know it brings us peace. We see for ourselves the futility of indulging in thinking and of fuelling outside problems, concerns and emotions. We are willing to give up those fantasies because we have experienced the benefits of doing so.

Simran then becomes a practical, reasonable and sensible way to live. By its practice, we move along our journey from the world of concepts to that of spiritual experience. Adopting spirituality as the most desirable way of life, we discover that the clarity of mind that comes with the practice of simran makes us more skilful in everything we do. Concentrating in simran, our meditation feels good. We enjoy the ride because we have learnt to let go – we have already experienced where our thoughts would take us and we don’t want to go there. We take a holiday from the tyranny of our own nagging chitchat – we relish peace because we have tranquillized our mind in simran, at the eye centre.

One who accustoms himself to this appeal [of continuous interior prayer] experiences as a result so deep a consolation and so great a need to offer the prayer always, that he can no longer live without it.
The Way of a Pilgrim

The stability we achieve with simran doesn’t happen by a miracle. We achieve it through effort and by applying ourselves to the instructions to do simran over and over again. Once we can take rest in our own simran, we begin to feel that the wild beast of the mind is now being tamed. We are leaving the confusing world of concepts; we have the satisfaction that we are applying our knowledge of the teachings practically. We start to awaken from our deep sleep of worldly indolence. Light is dawning on the long dark night of our soul.

No one can describe the glory of the moment when the mind is still and the soul is in a state of complete absorption.
Soami Ji Maharaj

Simran will not come automatically in the beginning, so we have to make an effort to establish the habit. With constant effort, little by little we see that our practice of simran changes into effortless effort, just like driving and other tasks that take time and practice to accomplish but, once established, we do in an effortless manner.

No one should give the answer that it is impossible for a man occupied with worldly cares … to pray always. Everywhere, wherever you may find yourself, you can set up an altar to God in your mind by means of prayer. And so it is fitting to pray at your trade, on a journey, standing at the counter or sitting at your handicraft … By the power of the invocation of the Name of God … [one] would come to know from experience that frequency of prayer, this sole means of salvation, is a possibility for the will of man.
Saint John Chrysostom

To strengthen our simran practice, it is helpful to associate the words of our simran with the Master. These are the very words that the Master gave us at initiation, and our association with the Master and these words is, in fact, inseparable. When somebody mentions the name of someone we love, the image of that person comes to mind. In the same way, repetition of simran can be our cue to be mindful of our Master. If we then associate particular routine activities in our daily life with doing simran, we gradually help our mind become aware of the Master’s presence throughout the day.

Persons who repeat the holy names of God
Have angels around them.
Hazrat Muhammad

We can start by choosing one action that we do every day and decide to be entirely in the simran while doing that action, without any mental commentary. When practised in this way, we find that simran helps us to live in the moment and get more out of life. When we walk, we can try to associate walking with simran. Before we eat or drink, we can take a moment to acknowledge the Master’s presence and give thanks with our simran. This can be done with our eyes open. We don’t need to advertise our spirituality. When we are waiting in an office or a queue, we can practise our simran. During work, we can take a few moments to acknowledge his presence – even if it’s only for a second or two. Cooking, gardening and doing other manual labour offer excellent opportunities to get immersed in simran.

Simran can continue whether we are showering, dressing, making up a bed, opening a door or switching the computer on. We can turn all these activities into opportunities to trigger the remembrance of our Master by associating these activities regularly with simran. Whatever it is that we are doing, we can decide to be entirely in simran for that particular action. After some time, we can move to another action and then to another one, until most of our day our attention is kept in simran. This way we will become present to our life. We don’t walk a step ahead of ourselves, or a step behind, but fully present and living in the moment. After all, our life is made up of a continuous string of moments. Being present to each will improve the quality of our life and will strengthen us in living the spiritual way.

I keep myself in His presence by simple attentiveness and a loving gaze upon God, which I can call the actual presence of God or, to put it more clearly, an habitual, silent and secret conversation of the soul with God; which sometimes causes me interior, and often exterior, happiness and joy.
Brother Lawrence

Simran must be done mentally, and nobody outside should be able to hear what we are repeating. It is all a matter of creating the habit. Unceasing simran is the secret door to a life that is filled with devotion.

You do not need to speak out loud
For he is the Knower
Of all that is secret,
Of all that is hidden:
God – no God but He! –
To Him belong
The most beautiful names.

Constant simran will lead us to feel the divine in our life. This itself then becomes our practice. Loving repetition of the names will naturally make us aware of the constant presence of the Master. To be successful in this practice, the repetition of the words should be done at a comfortable pace: not so fast that we get anxious, nor so slow that we fill the gaps in between the words with thoughts. We will feel the Master’s presence like a warm comfort inside and around us. Our Master’s presence in our daily activities will change our relationship with him. He will cease being the Master who is far away from us in Dera and instead become our everyday companion and intimate friend. He will be the close friend who shares our laughter and sorrows, our joys and pains, our difficulties and successes. Through the deepening of our formal meditation practice, and through the habit of remembering him in our daily activities, our understanding of the path will grow stronger and we will know without doubt that he has always been with us. He is with us now, and he will always be with us. Paraphrasing Farid, one could say:

Sugar, buffalo milk and chocolates, all are sweet,
But incomparably sweeter
Is the repetition of the names of my Lord,
Like pure warm honey melting in my heart.


O Beloved! I have heard many a tale
About your wondrous beauty;
But now that I have beheld you within,
I see that you are really
A thousand times more wonderful
Than the tales depict you.

When the Master initiated us, he made it clear that the Radiant Form is always with us. This is not wishful thinking or a figment of our imagination, it is something that can be known once we have worked within ourselves to realize this truth. Layers upon layers of fears, attachments, passions, desires, cravings and illusions cover our inner eye and prevent us from realizing that this is so. Baba Ji says that seeing the Radiant Form is the natural result of concentrated simran. True dhyan is effortless; it is the grace of the Master.

Simran brings our attention to the eye centre and dhyan helps us to keep it there. If we are swimming in a river against the current, we need to grasp on to a rock to rest ourselves, so we have the strength to continue swimming against the current to our destination. In like manner, simran helps us to swim against the downward tendencies of the mind and dhyan is the rock that allows us to rest so that we can make further progress.

Even if we close our eyes and see only darkness, this can be an inner experience in itself that will begin to awaken the dhyan or ‘seeing faculty’ of the soul. In that darkness is where our meditation begins. As soon as our attention is fully in that darkness, we are at the threshold of the door to our home. This is the doorway to eternity. From then on, it is just a question of holding our attention in the darkness with simran, of developing progressively deeper concentration, until we are so absorbed in inner perception that we don’t feel our body at all. We will then experience, instead, a new level of awareness.

In dhyan, it is the attention that does the ‘seeing’. There is no need to focus on the eye centre with the eyes or to try to invert them inwards. The physical eyes have nothing whatsoever to do with the seeing faculty of the soul, just as the ears have nothing to do with the hearing faculty of the soul. In both cases, it is concentrated attention that awakens both faculties. Great Master says:

When your concentration is almost complete, then, in place of darkness in the eye centre, sparks and fleeting flashes of light will begin to appear, and then light will be steady and the soul automatically will leave the body and enter the tisra til [third eye].

The dark sky that we are aware of immediately upon closing our eyes is like a screen in a movie theatre. It is the very same sky in which the inner stars, sun, moon and Radiant Form will make their appearance when concentration deepens. So, there is great significance in that darkness and we shouldn’t be afraid of it; rather, it should be appreciated and loved. When we have gained more concentration in simran, the seeing faculty will naturally develop and the darkness will be replaced by light within.

On a dark night,
Inflamed by love and longing,
(O exquisite adventure!)
Undetected I slipped away,
My house, at last, grown still.
Secure in the darkness,
I climbed the secret ladder in disguise,
With no other light or guide
Than the one burning in my heart.
This light led the way
More clearly than the rising sun,
To where he was waiting for me,
The one I knew so intimately,
In a place where no one could find us.
O night that guided me!
O night sweeter than sunrise!
O night that joined lover with Beloved,
Lover transformed in Beloved!
Saint John of the Cross


Bhajan simply means attending to the Sound Current, which is also termed by the saints as the practice of Shabd Yoga. This is done by the soul, or by its attention. It is through surat or soul that the divine melody is heard. The practice awakens the soul that has been slumbering for ages and results in a state of bliss.
Maharaj Sawan Singh

Bhajan is the act of being receptive to the resonating power of Shabd. If we don’t hear anything, we should keep our attention on the silence, and be present in our longing to hear the Sound. With practice, the hearing faculty of the soul will be awakened and we will hear the Sound. Regardless of whether we hear anything or not, we must always sit for bhajan. Sound is always there, but we need to train the mind to be receptive to it. We need to acquire the habit of sitting for bhajan. This is the way we will become receptive to the subtlety of the Sound and nurture love for it.

Your attention may remain focused for no more than a minute or two, or five or ten, or it may barely hear the Sound, but even then the news of your effort will reach right into Sach Khand, that you are offering a prayer.
Baba Jaimal Singh

The reason we don’t hear the Shabd is because our soul is covered with layers of karmas and is consequently unable to make contact with the divine. The practice of meditation removes these coverings. Only the Shabd-dhun, the vibratory sound of the Shabd, with its power to purify all that come in contact with it, can dissolve these karmas. It is by being in touch with the Shabd that we become free so that we can return to our true home.

When you sit in bhajan, begin by attaching the mind and attention to the sound that you hear first – which is like that of a grain handmill, or a steam locomotive, or an oven going full blast – and keep the faculty of inner seeing and hearing directed upward to focus on where the sound is coming from. Then attach the mind and attention to the sound of the bell, and next to that of the conch. The soul will then gently savour the bliss, and one day it will surely reach Sach Khand. Please do not be in a hurry. When the soul becomes steadfast in its love for the Sound, a bond is then forged with the Shabd-dhun. Thus step by step, slowly, slowly, the mind is tamed. One day you will certainly reach Sach Khand.
Baba Jaimal Singh

Many of us only do simran and do not sit for bhajan. We must remember that simran, even if it has become sweet and satisfying, is nothing compared to contact with the divine melody within. Simran is only a means; the real spiritual practice is being receptive to the Shabd. Simran is like preparing food. Bhajan is like eating it. Who would go through all the trouble of preparing food to eat and then, when the food is ready, not eat it? And yet that is precisely what we are doing when we sit for meditation and attend only to our simran and neglect to do our bhajan.

Each time we sit, even if it is only for fifteen minutes, we should create the habit of becoming receptive to the Shabd-dhun by giving some time to bhajan. Even if we don’t hear a thing, we should develop the habit of being receptive to whatever is there. Even if what we hear is silence, we should pay attention to it. That silence will give rest to our mind, will settle the thought waves, and from that silence, the Sound, Shabd-dhun, will become audible. If we don’t practise being receptive, how will we ever listen to the Shabd? If we don’t become receptive, how will we ever obtain the full benefit of our meditation?

This is why it is important that in each sitting we must give time first to simran, and then to bhajan. When the prescribed time for bhajan arrives, we should switch from the simran position to the bhajan position, regardless of whether we achieved or didn’t achieve any concentration during the simran session.

The light and sound of Shabd are already within us. We might imagine covering a speaker or a bright light with many layers of cloth. In such a situation, we would not be able to hear the sound nor see the light, nor even be aware of their existence. However, once we begin removing the coverings, we will first hear or see a faint glimmer of sound or light. As we remove each covering, the sound and light will grow in intensity. Finally, if we can remove all the coverings, we will make contact with the source of the sound and light. Similarly, through meditation we remove the layers of karma from our soul and experience this sound and light, which are already present.

A bamboo flute makes sound because it is hollow and empty within. It is impossible to make any sound with a pipe that is filled, let alone play a tune. To give up our thoughts during meditation is to become an empty bamboo flute. In emptiness of self we become receptive to the divine melody that is constantly reverberating in every cell of our body. We then experience with full force the music of the Shabd within ourselves. The Shabd Masters tell us that nothing compares to living life consciously in the Sound Current.

Devotion to the Shabd consists in turning inward and listening one-pointedly to its melody. The Sound is subtle, and unless we ourselves become subtle, we cannot hear it … This Sound is resounding all the time. Why then do we not hear it? The reason is that waves are constantly arising in our minds and we are full of selfhood and pride.
Maharaj Sawan Singh

Inner experiences

The soul has penetrated into the peak, O friend,
And pierced, like a shaft, a hole in the sky.
Therein she beheld sights wondrous,
Beyond comprehension.
Even as the cannonball blasts the gate of a citadel,
So did the soul burst the tower gate of the fortress.
She got linked to the Lord as pearls to a thread.
She went zooming through the lane of the firmament,
O friend, with joy and bliss filling her heart.
She was bestowed the boon of realizing Him, O Tulsi,
In a realm without trees, seeds or creation.
Tulsi Sahib

During meditation we might experience inner visions. However, the object of meditation is not to enjoy inner visions but to transcend them. Usually the inner visions we have are impressions that the mind has accumulated over many lifetimes. If we pay attention to them or get absorbed by them they will keep us from our goal.

We must hold our attention at the eye centre, keep on doing our simran, or listening to the Sound, and slowly all these images will fade away and vanish. If we experience spiritual transport, we must always keep our attention fixed at the eye centre in simran, dhyan of the Master or hearing the inner Sound. Just as when we watch a film, we simply go on watching, fully knowing that it is only a movie, with nothing real about it, in the same manner we must remain indifferent to all that comes and goes before us on the inner planes until we reach the Master’s Radiant Form. From then on, the Radiant Form is there to give us directions and to lead us by the hand.

You are not imagining things, and in the course of time you will yourself feel and know that what you see inside is more real than that which you see outside.
Maharaj Charan Singh

If we have an inner experience, it is best not to get attached to it or to try to reproduce it when we sit again in meditation. We should only be concerned about keeping our attention on the words or the Sound. Whether inner experiences come or they don’t come, we shouldn’t be concerned. If we do our meditation practice with any other attitude, we run the risk of doing it with expectations, and if the results we expect do not come, we become frustrated. Then, after a while we might even stop meditating. That is one of the reasons why it is important to attach ourselves to the effort and leave the results in his hands.

We should not talk about our inner experiences to others regardless of how close the relationship. If we vomit the food we are given, how will we get spiritual nourishment? Talking of inner experiences is likely to distort them, and we run the risk of inflaming our egos, with the result that we lose the benefits of whatever progress we have made. By remaining silent and digesting our inner experience within, we will continue our progress on the inner path.