Q: How to quiet the voice inside my head while meditating?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are several things you can do about it.
First is accepting it and not fighting with it. You fight with it and feel that you should not have this noise. The more you want to get rid of it, the more it will stick to you. The principle of consciousness or mind is such that resistance does not eliminate it but makes it grow. So first you have to let go and not resist it.
Second is the five different ways of getting into meditation. Breathing will help you get rid of the noise. Proper food can also make an impact on meditation. Exercise, posture and refined emotions, good understanding, all these will aid meditation.
Q: Dear Guruji, during meditation I was aware but had no sensation in my body. There was only ‘I am’ and then my body jerked and I was back. What happened?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is good, you had a glimpse of that inner state, the consciousness that you are. That is normal and good too. But now don’t try to have the same experience tomorrow. No. It is not going to repeat. Everyday there is a new treasure that will come to you. So, just take it and do not latch on to experiences. You are much bigger than these experiences.
Q: During meditation, my mind becomes silent but I haven’t been able to transcend or go beyond my mind. Am I trying too hard?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, you should not try to go beyond the mind. For your own sake don’t do anything, just let it be. Ok?
If you are on a massage table, what do you do? You just let the masseuse take care of you. The masseuse does the job. You do nothing. It is the same in meditation: you do nothing. Let nature take care of you. The spirit will take care of it.
Q: After meditating for a while I have become aware of my patterns of reactions, such as defensiveness and anger. How do I get myself to react differently?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Disown all that you think are your patterns, let them be.
If you start identifying that "I am always angry", "I am always defensive", then you are latching onto the past or some patterns. So disown them. They were there yesterday. It came in my space. So what?
Sometimes you see dark clouds in the sky, but the space does not own them. It just allows them to come and pass away. Similarly, these emotions come, sometimes pleasant, sometimes unpleasant. You should disown them. That is the first step. Let them come and go.
Q: I have heard that after years of meditation that one’s whole life becomes a constant meditation. Can you explain this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes! That inner calmness stays whatever you do.
You may be walking, talking, eating, chatting, watching news, and there is that certain serenity which continues. You get so used to it. It doesn’t leave you.
But again, don't keep thinking, ‘When will I get this sort of experience?’. 'It can happen anytime. Who cares?' That should be the attitude. That is the best thing to say, ‘Okay, let it be.’
There is a beautiful verse by Kabir. He was an Indian saint during the middle ages. He said that he went in search of God all the time, looking everywhere, 'Where is God? Where is God?'
He said, ‘When I went in search of God, I couldn’t find God. But when I dropped everything and relaxed, God was after me, calling me, ‘Kabir, Kabir, Kabir!’’
So when he stopped running after God, then God started running after him. This is very true!
Just know how to relax deeply. Without effort. Because whatever we gain through effort is material and is limited. Anything you want to gain on the spiritual plane, anything higher, effort is not the language. When all effort is dropped, you gain something bigger.
The material plane is just 1/10th of the entire existence and 9/10th is the spiritual plane.
See, you cannot cultivate love through effort, you cannot be compassionate through effort, can you? Can you say, ‘I try hard to be compassionate’? Your 'trying hard' is the impediment. Just relax and you will be compassionate. You try hard to be happy. That is the deterrent factor to happiness. So effort is the language of the material world.
Without effort you can’t make money, you can’t study or gain good marks. You can’t obtain a degree if you don’t put any effort. So everything in the material requires effort. Like building a home. It does not happen just by thinking about it. But to attain something spiritual just the reverse is needed – no effort! A few moments of sitting and making no effort at all whatsoever.
I know you may tell me it is difficult not to do anything. It is difficult to be quiet. But it just appears like that. A couple of days here and you will see how it is so simple, so easy!
Based on a series of talks entitled ‘Secrets of meditation’ given by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on April 20, 2012, California. These talks have been made into knowledge sheets.