yoga horizons

A Course in Meditation

Vijnanananda

Meditation is an all encompassing term for just about anything requiring deeper thought, feeling or reflection. In it’s most general sense, meditation may be spiritual or mundane. We can meditate on the meal we just ate or the meaning of life.

For our purposes, lets focus our definition a bit, and say meditation is reflecting on or observing our inner world.

It’s often described as taking our senses inward. That is our senses are generally focused on what’s going on around us, and in meditation we turn them in on our mind.

The first time I ran into this idea, I thought it was something magical, but it’s actually quite normal and we do it from time to time without even realising it already. For example we’ve all daydreamed where we could ‘see’ what we were imagining in our heads, hear the sounds, taste the tastes and so on.

So with meditation we are just using this same ability in a structured way.

To start generally it’s good to have a quite place to sit where you won’t be disturbed. It does not matter how you sit as long as you sit upright, on a chair, cross legged on the floor, whatever works best for you.

So first you’ll sit in a comfortable upright position, with a straight back. We do this because it naturally keeps the mind at the right level of alertness.

Now, take a couple of deep easy breaths. Inhale and just have the feeling that you are alive, exhale and feel some thankfulness for that fact.

There is no need to believe in a higher power to do this, it’s just a general sense of gratitude. Of course if you do believe in a higher power be thankful to that.

Then the meditation itself starts, and it’s simple, really really simple. We are going to focus on our sense of hearing and turning it inward, simply ‘listen’ for silence. That’s it, listen for the silence.

You may hear it or may not, it’s not that important.

You may hear it and then lose it, that’s very normal, and just fine.

All you need to do is listen for it.

To start do this for a fixed amount of time. You can even set an egg timer, or timer on your phone. (Just make sure the phone is set so no one can call you)

It is surprising how much effort it can take to do this, so for most people a good starting time is five minutes.

As your concentration improves, you can gradually up the time. First 5 minutes then 10, 15, 20. Don’t be in a hurry to up the time though. This is an exercise in quality. If you find you’re spending most of the time thinking about other things, you’ve probably gone too long.