The texts in this article are all excerpts taken from the book Meditation by Sri Chinmoy
Becoming aware of your breath
Proper breathing is very important in meditation.
When breathing, try to breathe in as slowly and quietly as possible, so that if somebody placed a tiny thread in front of your nose, it would not move at all. And when you breathe out, try to breathe out even more slowly than when you breathed in. If possible, leave a short pause between the end of your first exhalation and the beginning of your second inhalation.
Breathing in peace and joy
The first thing that you have to think of when breathing is purity. When you breathe in, if you can feel that the breath is coming directly from God, from Purity itself, then your breath can easily be purified.
Then each time you breathe in, try to feel that you are bringing into your body peace, infinite peace. The opposite of peace is restlessness. When you breathe out, try to feel that you are expelling the restlessness within you and also the restlessness that you see all around you. When you breathe this way, you will find restlessness leaving you.
After practicing this for a few times, please try to feel that you are breathing in power from the universe. And when you exhale, feel that all your fear is coming out of your body. After doing this a few times, try to feel that what you are breathing in is joy, infinite joy, and what you are breathing out is sorrow, suffering and melancholy.
Feel that you are breathing in not air but cosmic energy. Feel that tremendous cosmic energy is entering into you with each breath and that you are going to use it to purify your body, vital, mind and heart. Feel that there is not a single place in your body that is not being occupied by the flow of cosmic energy. It is flowing like a river inside you, washing and purifying your whole being. Then, when you start to breathe out, feel that you are breathing out all the rubbish inside you—all your undivine thoughts, obscure ideas and impure actions. Anything inside your system that you call undivine, anything that you do not want to claim as your own, feel that you are exhaling.
CHANTING AND MANTRA
Excerpts from: Meditation by Sri Chinmoy
Purifying the Mind
The mind is almost always impure, and it almost always brings in unaspiring thoughts. Even when it is not doing this, the mind is still a victim to doubt, jealousy, hypocrisy, fear and other undivine qualities. All negative things first attack the mind. The mind may reject them for a minute, but again they knock at the mind’s door. This is the nature of the mind. The heart is much, much purer. Affection, love, devotion, surrender and other divine qualities are already there in the heart. That is why the heart is much purer than the mind. Even if you have fear or jealousy in the heart, the good qualities of the heart will still come forward.
Each time an undivine thought enters into your mind, throw it out of your mind. It is like a foreign element, a thief, that has entered your room. Why should you consciously allow a thief to remain in your room when you have the capacity to throw him out? When an undivine though enters into your mind, just capture the thought and throw it out.
Another way to calm a restless mind, to cleanse your mind of impurities, is to repeat Aum or a mantra.
A mantra is an incantation. It can be a syllable, a word, a few words or a sentence. A mantra represents a particular aspect of God, and each mantra has a special significance and inner power. As a beginner you may use qualities such as: peace, light, love, joy, etc. as your mantra.
Aum is the seed sound of the universe, for with this sound God set into motion the first vibration of His creation. It is the most powerful of all mantras.
Aum is a single Sanskrit character. The syllable Aum is indivisible, but each portion represents a different aspect of the Supreme. The ‘A’ represents and embodies the consciousness of God the Creator, the ‘U’ embodies the consciousness of God the Preserver and the ‘M’ embodies the consciousness of God the Transformer. Taken together, Aum is the spontaneous cosmic rhythm with which God embraces the universe.
There are many ways to chant Aum. When you chant it loudly, you feel the omnipotence of the Supreme. When you chant it softly, you feel the delight of the Supreme. When you chant it silently, you feel the peace of the Supreme.
It is best to chant Aum out loud, so its sound can vibrate even in your physical ears and permeate your entire body. This will convince your outer mind and give you a greater sense of joy and achievement. When chanting out loud, the ‘M’ sound should last at least three times as long as the ‘AU’ sound.
Concentrating from the heart
Very often aspirants say that they cannot concentrate for more than five minutes. After five minutes they get a headache or feel that their head is on fire. Why? It is because the power of their concentration is coming from the intellectual mind or, you can say, the disciplined mind. The mind knows that it must not wander; that much knowledge the mind has. But if the mind is to be utilized properly, in an illumined way, then the light of the soul has to come into it. When the light of the soul has entered into the mind, it is extremely easy to concentrate on something for hours. During this time there will be no thoughts or doubts or fears. No negative forces can enter into the mind if it is surcharged with the soul’s light.
When we concentrate we have to feel that our power of concentration is coming from the heart center and then going up to the third eye. The heart center is where the soul is located. When we think of the soul at this time, it is better not to form any specific idea of it or try to think of what it looks like. Only we will think of it as God’s representative or as boundless light and delight. When we concentrate, we try to feel that the soul’s light is coming from the heart and passing through the third eye. Then, with this light, we enter into the object of concentration and identify with it. The final stage of concentration is to discover the hidden, ultimate Truth in the object of concentration.
The inner flower
For this exercise you will need a flower. With your eyes half closed and half open, look at the entire flower for a few seconds. While you are concentrating, try to feel that you yourself are this flower. At the same time, try to feel that this flower is growing in the inmost recesses of your heart. Feel that you are the flower and you are growing inside your heart.
Then, gradually try to concentrate on one particular petal of the flower. Feel that this petal, which you have selected, is the seed-form of your reality-existence. After a few minutes, concentrate on the entire flower again, and feel that it is the Universal Reality. In this way go back and forth, concentrating first on the petal—the seed form of your reality—and then on the entire flower—the Universal Reality. While you are doing this, please try not to allow any thought to enter into your mind. Try to make your mind absolutely calm, quiet and tranquil.
After some time, please close your eyes and try to see the flower that you have been concentrating on inside your heart. Then, in the same way that you concentrated on the physical flower, kindly concentrate on the flower inside your heart, with your eyes closed.
Kindly imagine a flower inside your heart. Suppose you prefer a rose. Imagine that the rose is not fully blossomed; it is still a bud. After you have meditated for two or three minutes, please try to imagine that petal by petal the flower is blossoming. See and feel the flower blossoming petal by petal inside your heart. Then, after five minutes, try to feel that there is no heart at all; there is only a flower inside you called ‘heart’. You do not have a heart, but only a flower. The flower has become your heart and your heart has become a flower.
After seven or eight minutes, please feel that this flower-heart has covered your whole body. Your body is no longer here; from your head to your feet you can feel the fragrance of the rose. If you look at your feet, immediately you experience the fragrance of a rose. If you look at your knee, you experience the fragrance of a rose. If you look at your hand, you experience the fragrance of a rose. Everywhere the beauty, fragrance and purity of the rose have permeated your entire body. When you feel from your head to your feet that you have become only the beauty, fragrance, purity and delight of the rose, then you are ready to place yourself at the Feet of your Beloved Supreme.
Meditation on nature
The best way to appreciate nature’s beauty is to sit and meditate with nature. If you take a tree as nature, then sit at the foot of a tree and meditate. If you take the sun as an expression of nature, then look at the sun and meditate. If you feel the ocean or sea as nature, then sit in front of the water and meditate. While looking at the tree or the sun or the ocean, try to feel your oneness with it. Anything that you consider as nature or nature’s beauty, you should try to become one with.
Again, if you want a particular thing from nature, you have to go to that thing. If you want to have vastness, then just go out of the house and look at the sky and you will enter into vastness. If you want to have a very vast, pure consciousness, then stand in front of a river and meditate on the river. And if you want to get height in your life, then go to a mountain and meditate there. So whatever you want, you have to stand in front of that particular thing and invoke it. You have to invoke the spirit of nature or become one with the soul of nature. That is the best kind of identification.
In India seekers get up at the Hour of God, three in the morning, and start to meditate on the rising sun. The sun represents dynamism, inner beauty and inner light. The sun is a manifestation of God’s transcendence. As the flower is God’s outer manifestation of beauty and purity, the sun is the manifestation of the beauty and power of God.
A sea of tranquillity
Meditation is like going to the bottom of the sea, where everything is calm and tranquil. On the surface there may be a multitude of waves, but the sea is not affected below. In its deepest depths, the sea is all silence. When we start meditating, first we try to reach our own inner existence, our true existence—that is to say, the bottom of the sea. Then, when the waves come from the outside world, we are not affected. Fear, doubt, worry and all the earthly turmoil will just wash away, because inside us is solid peace. Thoughts cannot trouble us, because our mind is all peace, all silence, all oneness. Like fish in the sea, they jump and swim but leave no mark. So when we are in our highest meditation, we feel that we are the sea, and the animals in the sea cannot affect us. We feel that we are the sky, and all the birds flying past cannot affect us. Our mind is the sky and our heart is the infinite sea. This is meditation.
Identify with the vast sky
Keep your eyes half open and imagine the vast sky. In the beginning try to feel that the sky is in front of you; later try to feel that you are as vast as the sky, or that you are the vast sky itself.
After a few minutes, please close your eyes and try to see and feel the sky inside your heart. Please feel that you are the universal heart, and that inside you is the sky that you meditated upon and identified yourself with. Your spiritual heart is infinitely vaster that the sky, so you can easily house the sky within yourself.
Energy flowing like a river
When you meditate, please try to feel the river of meditation flowing through you without coercion or exertion. Let the divine Consciousness flow through you; that flow is the real meditation. Let this energy flow from the sole of your feet to the crown of your head like a river. Do not try to hold it. Let it not be accumulated at one particular place. Let it take the form of liquid energy. By consciously trying to help the energy flow from one place to another inside you, you will be able to enjoy that divine energy.