This is a recent Chat that follows the one posted just before. I will continue to post the earlier Chats, too. Enjoy.
Good morning. Talking about the weather, I know... but, wow! I just love all of the seasons, and right now Autumn is such a delight. Funny... while each season is happening I find it my favorite. I am fickle like that, I guess. Now, let's take some time to focus on meditation. Are there any questions or comments to share?
Last week we started to discuss how combining meditation techniques might work to find just the thing that works best for you. We talked about using the breath combined with mantra, and two different ways to combine those.
One was to actually coordinate the mantra with the inhalation, pause, and exhalation. The other was just to keep focused on the flow of the breath while mentally repeating your mantra, without any effort to shape the breath to the flow of the segments of the mantra. Both work very well. Let's look at a few others combining today.
As we talk some about this, it is useful to remember why we are considering it. Our meditation is to bring us into a state of mind where there is a clarity and peace, and an awareness of our eternal Self. One main principal of a meditation practice is to to get the mind one-pointed, bringing it to a stillness that allows it to reflect our natural essence without any distortion.
We use a variety of techniques to engage and focus and quiet the mind. We do what we can to get the body set so that it is not distracting the mind, and then take on an object for the mind to focus upon. We hold to that focus by bringing the mind back to it until it settles into that one-pointed way.
It is useful to take on one particular technique and use it again and again so that the mind gets used to it, and can easily work with it to quiet the mind. Since the various techniques are usually described on their own, it seems that we ought to use one technique. And we are also warned against letting the mind shift from one thing to another - a useful awareness and precaution. But we might take that counsel to mean that we cannot use more than one technique at a time. This is the issue we are discussing here today. We can, and often should, make use of a combination of meditation techniques. They actually can beautifully complement one another. You just need to see what fits best for you.
As I mentioned last week, we went over using the breath and mantra together. They very easily complement one another and neither interrupts the attention you are giving to the other. Using them together actually makes it easier to keep your awareness clear and attentive. You easily do both - watch/feel the breath and hear/feel the mantra. The key is: it is not "both". You are not doing two things. You will find your mind relaxing as it focuses and observes the breath and mantra flowing. It becomes one technique, and even more easily holds your attention.
Last week I mentioned that I usually combine Tradak (gazing) along with breath awareness and repetition of the mantra I regularly repeat throughout each day. Here is how that usually takes shape and impacts me.
I get seated and find that taking time to note my posture and make some shifts until the body is soft and light helps to get the body so that it is a delight rather than a distraction, while at the same time drawing my awareness inward and aware of the present moment. I see that I am sitting to meditate.
I also often add a number of other things to remind we of what I am doing and to help me settle into it - light a candle and some incense, ring a bell and strike the singing bowl (helping to draw my attention inward and to focus the mind), and acknowledge my Guru and the Divine with some prayers and slokas. I do all of this before I start to focus on what I have chosen to focus upon.
I gaze at either the candle flame or the Integral Yoga Yantra which my Gurudev, Sri Swami Satchidananda, shared with us from his meditations. [You can see the Yantra below and CLICK HERE for an explanation of its meaning]. Until the candle burns down some, the flame is in front of the Yantra and, so, holds my attention when I gaze. Once it is lower I gaze at the Yantra. (Admittedly, I recommend placing the Yantra a little higher so that you can gaze at it regularly - which was my habit for many years. But I moved and now my alter does not have the wall space for me to raise the Yantra. But I find this arrangement, too, is working very nicely.) I begin gazing. Once again this helps focus my attention nicely. Once I have my attention settled upon the Yantra (or flame), I make the breathing a bit deeper to quiet the mind some more. I breath a little deeper for a few breaths, still gazing at the Yantra, which I find focuses my attention even more and keeps me at an inner awareness even though my eyes are open and gazing at the Yantra. Then I let the breath become more gentle and subtle. This draws my attention still deeper, while the gazing keeps my mind really one-pointed. Then I let my mantra flow mentally. This brings an experience of completeness and fullness. There is a sense of satisfaction and contentment that lets me just be with everything - no more sense of doing. They all blend into one practice, each of the elements complementing each other to serve the overall intention.
So, find what works for you. Be open to letting things take shape in ways you might not initially have in mind. Trust your inner Self to guide and assist you with this meditation effort you are making. The Divine supports you.