The aim of Yoga is to know the Truth which is one’s Self. This knowledge alone can help us to get out of all turmoil and petty-mindedness. We divide man into thousands of names: “I am this, I am that. Oh, he is different from me.” We group people colorwise, countrywise, racewise, religionwise; we kill each other. All these happen because we fail to see, to know, that we are above all these things. Look at the sea, all kinds of pollution fall into it. Does the sea get polluted? Perhaps near the shore, where it is shallow, but if you go a little farther, deep into the middle of the sea, there is no pollution. Everything comes in, but the sea itself never changes; it just remains the same. It is contented. So it is with people. If you reach the depths of your Self, you will also find this contentment. By knowing your true nature, you will know the Truth in others also. In that Truth, we come together. It is this goal that is expounded, either directly or indirectly, in all the different religions and philosophies. To contemplate these points or to come to the realization within one’s Self, is what you call meditation. This realization is arrived at either directly or indirectly, according to the nature of the individual’s practice.
The technique of meditation is to keep the mind fully occupied on one thing. When the mind is fully occupied on one thing, it is kept away from many things and it becomes quiet. Then you find a kind of calmness, and in that stillness even that one thing will slip away after some time. It’s something like a man going to sleep; setting aside all his work, he lies down in bed, probably puts on his stereo and listens to some soft gentle music. He doesn’t think of anything else if he really wants to sleep, but just thinks of the music, and after some time even the music is forgotten. Meditation is similar, except we shouldn’t become unconscious as in sleep. So that sticking to one thing, concentrating on one thing, will slowly make you raise above that one thing also. From many things get into one thing, and that one thing will become nothing (nothing). Then you will realize everything, by realizing your Self. Concentration should culminate in meditation. Meditation should slowly make you slip into samadhi, which you can call the transcendental level. In samadhi, you transcend the mind and body and enjoy your true nature.
This is concentration upon the natural sound of the breath which continually repeats the mantram Soham. Relax your body. Sit comfortably so that you will not have to move for a while. Try to keep your spine erect, your chest a little spread out, and feel the weight of your body right on your seat. Find the center of gravity and just be relaxed. Close your eyes. Concentrate on your breath and begin to breathe deeply; exhale fully and inhale deeply a few times. Have slow and deep exhalations and inhalations. Let the mind follow the breath; forget the entire outside world and let the total awareness be on your breath now. Slowly, you will go into the very source of the individual personality. Do not put any effort into your breathing, but just allow the breath to flow normally. The breath may become very shallow but continue to follow it.
Listen to your breath. If you listen carefully, you will be able to hear the sound ‘Soham’ (‘a’ is pronounced as the ‘u’ as in up). ‘So’ when the breath flows in, ‘Ham’ when the breath flows out. It may be difficult in the beginning to hear it, but as the attention gets drawn inward you will hear the breath repeating it. You need not repeat it yourself–just listen to that and you will be able to hear that sound. After practicing this for some time, you may begin to hear a humming musical note within you. Constantly listen to this hum. This is part of the cosmic vibration. By concentrating on this inner vibration, you are in tune with the cosmic sound. That is why you are able to feel peace and bliss. Let there be a complete void except for this musical note. By remaining in this state, you are sending out powerful peace vibrations that travel all over the globe and influence other minds, even restless minds. In this very high state of silence we forgot all our differences; we feel that we are One. You will be feeling very light; you will have transcended your body, and you will feel that you have expanded and lost your individuality temporarily to be one with the cosmic mind.
After sitting for some time in silence, slowly direct your attention toward your breathing and gently make the breath a little deeper. Continue to deepen the breath for a few minutes and then close the meditation with chants:
Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityor Maamritam Gamaya
Lead us from unreal to Real
Lead us from darkness to Light
Lead us from the fear of death to the Knowledge of Immortality
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
Om Peace, Peace, Peace
Lokaah Samastaah Sukhino Bhavantu
May the entire universe be filled with peace and joy.
A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
During a discussion period one Sunday afternoon, a boy asked Swamiji about an experience he had had in meditation. “I have been practicing meditation by repeating my mantram and trying to feel that the Guru is seated on the crown of my head. One day last week I began to feel an unusual pressure on the top of my head while meditating. I became frightened and stopped. What should I do?” Swamiji answered, “If you want the Guru to sit on your head, you must be prepared to hold his weight. Gurus are heavy, you know. All these days you have been imagining him sitting on the top of your head. Now you feel his presence, why do you stop?” Understanding what had happened, the boy asked, “When I feel the presence, should I continue to repeat my mantra?” “When someone is standing in your doorway waiting to come in, you say, ‘Come in, please come in.’ Once that person has entered the room, will you continue to say, ‘Come in, come in?’ No, you will offer him a seat and listen to what he has to say. The mantra is like that–a calling or invocation. Once the presence is felt, there is no need to repeat the mantra. Just sit and listen to what it has to say to you.”
(Excerpted from the booklet, Meditation: Excerpts from Talks by Sri Swami Satchidananda, 1975 and reprinted in the IYTA Newsletter, November, 2010)