(please see previous article, ABC’s of meditation, ch1, part 3.)
Hopefully now you have tried one or more of the concentration exercises (in the previous excerpt), and you probably have your mind under control. That is, your thoughts won’t be flying through your head like wild bats.
So, the next step is to move from concentration in the mind area to focusing on the heart area. When I speak of the heart, I am referring to the area in the centre of your chest. This area deep inside you houses your Essence, your inner Self, the real Eternal You, that which isn’t going to die when your body does. This Centre or spiritual heart, as it often referred to, is the part meditation puts you in touch with. Try this: Spontaneously point to yourself and say ‘me’. You will instinctively touch the centre of your chest. This is your spiritual heart.
Why is it so hard to find, you’re probably asking yourself. You and thousands upon thousands of people have been asking this question since the beginning of time. We also ask, “Who am I?” and “Why am I here, and what am I supposed to be doing?” The only way you are going to find out is to meditate. The answers are already there waiting and anxious to be uncovered by you.
The ‘real’ reality is like a beautiful piece of coral lying at the bottom of the ocean. You can’t see it when the waters are rough, but when they are calm, all the beauty at the depths of the ocean is there for you to behold and experience. Your active mind is like the rough waters, and the coral is your Real You.
THE FIRST STEP
The first step in meditation is learning to CONTROL YOUR THOUGHTS. Ultimately, you want to STOP them, but believe me, that is no easy feat. It takes years of practice. However, it is very easy to control your wild thoughts. The first step is to evaluate them.
Stop for a minute and listen to what’s happening inside your head. How many thoughts were good, happy, productive? How many were useless, mundane or counter-productive? It’s up to you to encourage and enlarge on the positive thoughts and eliminate the negative ones.
When I first started to meditate, I had terrible problems with my mental activity, so I asked Sri Chinmoy what I could do. He gave me a very simple and practical solution. He said to imagine that my mind was like my house and that positive thoughts were like my good friends coming to my door. Of course, I would open the door and welcome them. Conversely, the negative thoughts, I should treat as my enemies and just slam the door on them, as I knew they only wanted to harm me.
When I first tried this technique, my mind reminded me of an old silent movie where everything was speeded up. All I could visualize was doors flying open and doors slamming. Soon my mind calmed down, and I benefitted greatly from this discrimination of the positive and negative.
I’m sure it’s becoming clearer to you now that you have to train the mind to cooperate just as you would train the muscles when you are preparing for a sports event. It is a matter of practice and perseverance. If you keep doing the exercises every day, you will see results quickly, as millions before you have.
Now, we will begin some meditation techniques that will help you see images that evoke certain feelings within you. We call these “visualization exercises”. After you have relaxed, are sitting comfortably and have done one or more of the above concentration exercises, you are ready to visualize.
VISUALIZATION EXERCISE # 1
Close your eyes and picture a beautiful blue sky. Make it the most beautiful blue that you can imagine. There is nothing in your sky, no clouds, only blue vastness spreading into eternity. You long to become one with this sky. You want to merge with
it and become one with its infinite, peaceful vastness.
Feel yourself floating upwards into the sky. Don’t evaluate or analyze how – just know that you can and are making it happen. Take as much time as you need to feel that you and the vast, blue, infinite sky are one. Enjoy the feeling, experience the sensation of vastness, of Infinity. If you have any thoughts, see them as birds that are flying by and away from you. You and the sky are not affected.
If you have any fears or worries or concerns, just let them dissolve into the infinite blue and leave them there. When you are ready, slowly come back into your body, but don’t leave the peace and expansiveness of the sky behind. Know that it has become part of you and you part of it. Your own inner self is as vast as the sky – it is only for you to discover and experience it.
If at any time during the day you are feeling stressed-out or unhappy, that experience is lodged deep inside you, ready to be relived at your request. Because the meditative experiences invoke a reality that is part of you, they cannot be lost. Each meditation is stored within your heart as a solid part of your existence.
(please see next article, ABC’s of meditation, ch2, part 2.)